Game Shifter: Igniting General Service (GS) staff potential (leadership programme for GS staff)

Centre for Learning and Multilingualism adopts UN values
The new CLM “normal” is embracing integrity, humanity, humility and inclusion in the courses it offers
1 Apr 2023

Throughout and since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear to staff at the Centre for Learning and Multilingualism (CLM) that training from now on will be different. Flexible Working Arrangements (FWA) are now default across the organization. This has had a big impact on time available for learning and delivery modes. However, changes to a tried and tested model require a careful and consultative approach. To help, the Language Training Programme launched a comprehensive survey last year. It collected and analyzed stakeholder requirements in terms of objectives, content and course format for the six UN official languages. The results showed course participants’ overall satisfaction with the objectives of the programme. However, format-wise, a strong desire to maintain online language training and to reopen the face-to-face courses to a lesser extent was also expressed. A third option also emerged: a hybrid offer. The Language Training Programme will continue to study this in the coming months, whilst continuing to develop content and align its training offer with the United Nations Language Framework.

Management and Communication (M&C)

At M&C, similar preferences related to delivery modes were observed for similar reasons. It is in terms of content that change is particularly apparent and a distinct new “normal” has emerged. The UN Values of humility, humanity, integrity and inclusion have been the guiding principles of many recent events and courses, a sample of which are described below.

Leading without authority: the importance of soft power

In November 2022, UN Geneva hosted an in-person event with Professor John Antonakis, a scientist from the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Lausanne. His insightful talk focused on the important role that “soft” power plays in motivating individuals and getting them to commit without resorting to authority, legal means or coercion. Participants reflected on how leaders can use verbal and non-verbal cues to demonstrate charisma and influence followers in a quiet but impactful way. Leading without authority requires those who lead to take the initiative and invest energy in building relationships, while embracing the unique talents of each individual.

Leveraging in-house talent in the General Service category

In December 2022, unique talents and strengths were the focus of the inaugural session of the “Game Shifter Programme”, which really lived up to its name! General Service staff were accompanied through the mindset shift necessary to free them from traditional notions of top-down leadership. UN Geneva is prioritizing inclusion in the workplace and sending a message that anyone can make a leading impact to develop a more effective workforce.

In addition, a special event for GS colleagues on “Getting into the international professional category – G to P/YPP exam”, part of the Career Tips Thursday series, was held globally at the end of February 2023. The session provided information about the G to P/YPP exam and the support available for GS colleagues to prepare for it as well as the testimony of successful G to P colleagues.

Supporting managers to a higher level of efficiency

In our search to continuously improve our offer and support colleagues with managerial responsibilities, both at the P and G levels, new courses have been designed to equip managers with tools to better lead their teams and make them more inclusive.

Some courses such as “Effective coaching conversations with supervisees” and “Feedback and difficult conversations” focus on communication techniques to help managers encourage a growth culture within their teams. Others such as “Managing Diverse Teams Inclusively” and “Core People Management Skills for UN Supervisors”, enhance how managers create a more equitable workplace.

Leveling the playing field

Inclusion was also the theme of two workshops facilitated by Professor John Antonakis and Researcher Caryn Block of Columbia University. The two sessions shared a common objective: to provide an understanding of how implicit bias and stereotype threat can create obstacles and challenges within the workplace and equip attendees with key strategies to reduce them.

Helping staff to plan their careers

Last but not least, CLM’s has been actively supporting staff in career development. In addition to the successful “Career Tips Thursday” series, which since this year has become an inter-agency initiative jointly organized by UNOG, UNV and IAEA, a new course “Developing your own career path” is in the CLM pipeline. It will give UN colleagues the possibility to take the initiative in planning their own professional path.

All of these events showcase CLM’s commitment to the UN Values and adherence to the UN Geneva objective of making sure that everyone is given the same opportunity for success, regardless of their category, grade or level, gender, race, or identity.

At the Centre for Learning and Multilingualism, “new normal” or “next normal” is now quite simply “normal.” 

* The UNOG Centre for Learning and Multilingualism (CLM) provides diverse clients with high quality and effective learning opportunities.
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