UN Resident Coordinator Issa Sanogo recognized the commitment of UN Volunteers in helping others during a Capacity Development Learning Facility workshop on developing skills for the Sustainable Development Goals in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
©UNV, Madagascar, 2021.
Enable UN Volunteer learning and development
Learning for everyone is critical to the success of UN host entities and personnel at all levels. UN Volunteers are well placed within host entities, communities and at the grassroots to find sustainable solutions and lead change. They are an integral part of your capacity to deliver services, and their success depends on the opportunities you provide to learn, apply and refine skills and competencies to achieve positive outcomes for all stakeholders.
Spark a lifelong curiosity for learning. Set an example by talking about your own development and remind UN Volunteers they have responsibility for their own development. Empower them to work, learn and innovate. A commitment and culture of continuous learning should be modelled and encouraged.
Here are some best practices to transform your UN Volunteer into a more confident, productive, satisfied, high performing and creative local leader.
Several documents provide guiding principles on roles and responsibilities in managing UN Volunteers and their learning and training. These include the duty of care for the UN Affiliated workforce, MOU between the UN host entity and UNV, UNV Conditions of Service, and also, ILO’s document on “Lifelong Learning and the Future of Work”.
Explain their assignment, responsibilities and duties clearly. Pre-empt your UN Volunteer’s fear of trying new ideas and taking on challenges by outlining opportunity and accountability.
Provide UN Volunteers with access to host entity resources and tools to effectively carry out their role and responsibilities. Be responsive to their requests for support and guidance by removing obstacles to enable daily progress.
Download tips from the Harvard Business Review bestseller the “Progress Principle Tips” by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.
Introduce your contacts (leaders, stakeholders, peers) to UN Volunteers. Motivate them to put in extra effort by explaining your organization’s goals and the part they’ll play in your success. This will help volunteers feel connected to your organization.
Networking helps UN Volunteers develop world and work perspectives. Provide opportunities for formal and informal interactions, so that they can collaborate and access outside resources to co-create knowledge and innovate for you.
Connect UN Volunteers to the right people. Find your volunteer someone to shadow or learn new ideas and skills from. Connect them with a mentor or knowledge group. It’s about having a useful network, not the widest. Encourage lots of energy and questions.
Enable UN Volunteer learning and development
Create a positive environment that fosters continuous learning.
A safe and supportive environment nurtures learning and motivates UN Volunteers to effectively engage to achieve results. Take inspiration from these best practices to help them reach their full potential.
Assist UN Volunteers to understand themselves (strengths, gaps in knowledge and experience) and align learning with business objectives and future aspirations. Explain to UN Volunteers how their work contributes to organizational objectives and team success. Of all performance management activities, setting clear expectations on achieving goals has the greatest impact on engagement. 1
Empower UN Volunteers to expand their knowledge and skills. Delegate and see them develop critical thinking and decision-making skills. Trust them to spark new ideas and offer you a new perspective. Enable UN Volunteers, who are also experienced professionals, to use their skills in new situations for a more capable and creative team.
Offer fair and balanced feedback regularly. Praise in public, criticize in private. Prepare your comments and be clear and specific. This helps everyone understand expectations, acknowledge achievements, learn from mistakes and gain confidence. You can improve performance by up to 36 per cent by formally reinforcing performance-enhancing behaviour.1
Take a moment each day to recognize progress. Acknowledge and document the ways UN Volunteers contributed to the team and local community. Recognizing achievements and new skills makes them feel valued. It paves the way for self-realization and transfer of skills in current and future workplaces
Use the well known GROW model to guide UN Volunteers. Let UN Volunteers evaluate their own performance and decide, while talking with you, how to better themselves. Support them in making better decisions, overcoming challenges, learning new skills, and progressing in their role.
Ensure a seamless transition at the end of contract. Recognizing and documenting UN Volunteers’ commitment and contributions speak well to your success as a supervisor and as a favourable host entity culture. Meanwhile, a smooth end of assignment is morale-boosting for staff and volunteers in maintaining a positive and productive workplace.