ESCAP has five interlinked strategies in the area of learning with the objective to strengthen the role of training in supporting the organisation’s programme of work. The common thread of these strategies is to provide a more tailored approach to staff development, which would achieve a higher impact of training programmes, both in terms of productivity and staff motivation.
The five strategies are briefly discussed in turn.
1. Creation of a strategic focus for staff development activities
Based on consultation with staff at all levels, we have identified three priority areas of staff development and learning, i.e. (1) managerial and leadership development, (2) organizational effectiveness and (3) upgrading of technical and substantive skills. These areas were perceived as the most important and urgent to support the Executive Secretary’s reform initiative at ESCAP.
2. Focus of staff development activities on key staff within the organisation
Similar to the prioritization of learning programmes, it was decided to target specific staff members for various types of trainings. The Executive Secretary, in consultation with senior managers, are identifying certain key staff, or groups of staff, to participate in a number of priority development activities, which will are elaborated in the ESCAP training plan for the year. Such policy ensured that most staff development programmes reached the actual target audience, thus ensuring high impact.
3. Establishment of adequate internal management and quality assurance tools and procedures
Internal management tools are a major factor in ensuring the success of a more strategic approach to learning, demonstrated for example by the need to keep accurate participant statistics as well as financial information. Furthermore, enhanced communication tools for interacting with staff members are used so as to ensure higher client service and transparency. Last but not least, internal management tools are a crucial tool to capture and assess the impact of staff development activities, and to make decisions on such basis.
4. Work towards further decentralization of staff development activities
Two areas fall under this strategy. First, there is a clear need to train and certify more local trainers, which can be contracted independently from Headquarters, thus improving the flexibility and speed of implementation. Second, there is a need to increase the level of services provided to ESCAP Regional Institutes that are located in the Asia and Pacific Region, which are largely funded by extra-budgetary resources.
5. Promotion of staff development within ESCAP
This strategy refers to the need for greater awareness and motivation to participate in staff development activities, based on the United Nations core competency of continuous learning.
However, it also refers to the need for a stronger commitment to staff members’ own continuous development and in honouring such commitment by participation in development activities, and to the need for supervisors to encourage their staff more proactively to participate in these activities.