Changing NAOF: A competent and motivated staff is the key to societal impact

The National Audit Office of Finland has overhauled its strategy and management system. The goal of the changes is a wider impact on society. To achieve this, we need diversified competence development. Our new competence centres support this aim. In this blog series, we discuss the changes taking place in audit work and our operating environment from the perspective of our new strategy.

Besides impact areas, we at the NAOF have organised ourselves into four competence centres: Financial and Economic Governance, Digitalization, Methods, and Customer-Centric Approach. Each NAOF employee is a member of one of the competence centres, and each person’s immediate manager is the manager of their competence centre. The responsibility for the supervision of work duties has, in turn, been allocated to different project managers.

With this organisational structure, which makes room for leadership and competence development, we intend to strengthen the impact of the NAOF. I personally believe that this new strategy and management system presents great opportunities for both the NAOF as an organisation and each employee of the agency, as well as for our stakeholder groups. I want to be actively involved in ensuring and supporting the success of these changes.

Our staff plays a key role, as we set out to achieve a wider impact. The foundation of the NAOF’s operations continues to be our competence in auditing and in central government finances and their management. However, in the future, we will also need new types of skills and competences, such as customer insight, teamwork skills, project management skills, and coaching abilities.

The role of the new competence centres is to create development plans that support people’s individual goals, while at the same time serving our shared competence needs. We are all different personalities with different strengths. Identifying these strengths will give us new energy to our operations.

Developmental paths that take individual needs into account represent an opportunity for long-term, strategy-based development, where the focus is more farsighted and not limited to current day-to-day projects. I think that this investment in individual development will allow our staff to feel more motivated than before and more able to respond to future challenges. The sense of remaining competitive and competent when faced with the winds of change is among the best sources of work engagement.

Our competence centres will emphasise diversified competence development. We want the NAOF to function uniformly and to provide knowledge that supports the development of public administration. Through a project-based organisation, we hope to put our staff’s strengths to more efficient use and to make one another more aware of these strengths.

We want to increase the amount of collaboration and sharing of knowledge, both within the organisation and outside its walls. When we operated in separate departments, we did not necessarily know one another, or one another’s strengths, well enough. Now that we are working as one unified NAOF on multiple projects and in different assembled teams, we can better learn about what our co-workers are engaged in, and what their capabilities are. Together, we add up to more.

Diversified competence development also allows us to reinforce our competence through outside expert networks and associations. Such networks can provide us with ideas for developing our own operations. Engaging in networking does not endanger our independence – instead, it allows us to broaden our view of central government finances and their management. Networking also promotes our aim of serving as a real voice in the discussion of a given matter, when it is still possible to make a difference.

Our operating guidelines are based on the international ISSAI auditing standards and methods. We also want to be an active part of the international family of audit agencies, helping to develop the standards and methods that guide our operations, particularly insofar as they support our aim of having a wider impact.

I look forward to seeing what kinds of learning paths will develop around the Financial and Economic Governance theme, which I will be managing. To my delight, I have noticed the same enthusiasm in the other members of the competence centre as well, when the newly-assembled team has had its first few discussions. This office has a great deal of expertise, which we will now hopefully be able to harness more broadly than before. This way, more and more people will have an opportunity to broaden their competence and expertise in the long term, utilising the offering of all the competence centres.