People are not your most important asset. The right people are.
Jim Collins, American Author and Consultant
One of the most important things that sets organisations up for sustainable success is hiring the right people with the right talents. You need to find the right man for the right job. And this question often boils down to a 2 choices –
A Generalist or a Specialist?
Generalists are people with multiple competencies, people who exhibit multiple skills and can be good at more than one work. Specialists on the other hand, have deep domain knowledge about specific subjects. They usually tend to be aiming for the “most renowned expert” title, and focus all their attention on one subject only.
In short. Generalists tend to know a little about a lot of things; specialists tend to know as much as possible about just a few things.
However, as business needs change, and technological, social and operational roles at work change, we believe the key hires to make are Full Stack Employees!
Fullstack employees are the way to go!
A Full Stack Employee is someone with multiple competencies in multiple verticals. Fullstack Employees are digital natives, connected beings, who can easily shift between technical and managerial roles. They are inherently creative, and have an insatiable appetite for new ideas. They’re curious about the world, what makes it work, and how to make their mark on it.
They have an affinity for learning and staying productive and are curious about the world and how it works. They usually have 3 attributes – they are high on problem-solving, high on communication skills and high on learnability.
Full Stack Employees are like Swiss Knives – utilising them is less about their capabilities and more about the right motivation and direction. A lot innovation can be unlocked from Full stack employees if their skills are honed and applied in the right direction. This becomes important as full stack employees are agile and can hold their own ground when faced with a plethora of business challenges. Their ability to learn and agility are their strengths.
Now, you may be thinking, Full Stack Employees sound a lot like generalists. The key differentiating factor here however, is that Full Stack employees, also known as T-Shaped Professionals, have some sort of expertise in at least one vertical in their arsenal. A T-shaped person is a “Jack of many trades, master of (at least) one.
Why should you hire a Fullstack Employee?
While Full Stack Employees generally give the most bang for buck offer in an organisation. They help out in different fields and make communication in the organization a lot easier.
Also, they stand out for their ability to collaborate, stay agile and learn on the go, effectively take up tasks from specialists and free up their time to do deep working, and most importantly, a high sense of empathy that makes them valuable in group setups.
For example a full stack marketer will know how to play with numbers and data, but will also understand the pain points of sales employees, and understand how to form camaraderie and help the sales staff reach their goals.
Full stack employees also stand out for their ability to bring in multiple approaches to problem solving instead of having a specific lens like specialists. They can see the big picture and tend to move in unique ways than a specialist. They are also able to identify and play on the strengths of all team members and take actions considering other departments and the effects of their decisions on the organisation.
How to hire and develop Fullstack employees?
Once we know we want to go for Full Stack team players, comes the question, how do we hire and nurture them?
Creating T-shaped people is not instantaneous. It needs finding people who have the right mix of curiosity, energy, basic knowledge and intrinsic motivation.
When interviewing, identify these skills in the prospect and consider asking the prospect questions that relate to not only the field they specialise in but also other fields they keep an interest in. Also try to recognise if the prospect has an affinity for learning, they have high communication skills and are good at problem solving.
Once you locate these people, cross functional training plays the lead role in turning employees with potential into Full Stack Employees.
Start with relevant skills. It’s easier to learn skills and technologies that are similar to the ones we already know. Pairing them with experts in the field you want them to learn will also solve the problem of the Bus Factor – the risk that a project might come to a standstill because key people holding the knowledge and capabilities got hit by a bus!
Having some high energy full stack employees in such teams as shadows is very helpful. In the world of automation, learning and unlearning new skills quickly is immensely important. Your T shaped employees will ensure they also build the learning culture of your company, through questions and cross-pollination of ideas.
Full Stack employees also make for excellent managers. They are really good at communicating with different teams, managing employees and embracing adaptability in the organisation and reducing bottlenecks in performance of tasks.
Pay close attention to employees who have a varied amount of skills, experience and problem solving abilities. Finding employees who have an interest in increasing their skills and an interest in different areas of study. HR teams must drive reskilling initiatives that focus on preparing employees for different verticals and widens their skill gaps. This has become an unbelievably difficult task at times of remote work.
BHyve can help you!
We at BHyve attempt to make this job a breeze by using our Skills Passport feature and figuring out what your employees are up to while increasing the tacit knowledge flow in the organisation. Through effective skill mapping and recommendations, BHyve finds and nurtures your Fullstack Employees to keep them engaged, skilled and connected to the organisation.
Connect with our team of organisational psychologists to discover how to tap into your Fullstack Employee potential with BHyve.