Developing a vision and a strategy
You will be called upon at times to envision a future direction for a programme of work, or for a division, office or department. The strategic view – including the larger outcomes, potential risks, measures of success, and elements of change – is essential for the leadership to guide the work of the entire entity.
> Open Strategic Planning Basics for Managers to review the steps in the strategic planning process
The work-plan is the basis for setting and monitoring the achievement of the objectives that your team is accountable for. Departments and Offices may have formats for structuring the work-plan document, but the process of developing it is guided by the team leader.
> Open Work-planning Guidelines for Managers to review the basics of work-planning
Manager’s role in project management
Use inspira to access an e-learning programme about project management for managers.
> Visit inspira.un.org and log in. Then go to Self-Service>Learning>My Learning and search for Project Management or LMS-1617.
Manager’s role in programme evaluation
> Open the page for guidance on evaluating programmes and services
You will often be in the position of recommending a course of action, or making a decision, based on a proposal developed by team members who have researched the options and put forward the best one, in their view. You can benefit from research that has been done about factors that can distort reasoning and perhaps lead to dismissing important evidence or other problems of analysis.
> Read the article from the Harvard Business Review, “The Big Idea: Before You Make That Big Decision …” (June 2011).
The authors (Daniel Kahneman, who won a Nobel Prize in economics for his work on cognitive biases; Dan Lovallo of the University of Sydney; and Olivier Sibony of McKinsey) offer “ … a 12-question checklist intended to unearth and neutralize defects in teams’ thinking. These questions help leaders examine whether a team has explored alternatives appropriately, gathered all the right information, and used well-grounded numbers to support its case. They also highlight considerations such as whether the team might be unduly influenced by self-interest, overconfidence, or attachment to past decisions.”
> Another article from the HBR, “How to Tell if You’ve Made a Good Decision,” by Justin Fox (21 Nov 2104) can help you check your decisions against best practice in decision making.
Learning from mistakes
The ability to learn from mistakes with humility and then be guided in a new direction is what many great leaders and innovators are known for. In a video, Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School professor, describes strategies for analyzing workplace mistakes and producing more intelligent ones. She is the author of the HBR article Strategies for Learning from Failure.
> Learn From Failure video (15 Mar 2011)
In the book “Brilliant Mistakes,” author and Wharton professor Paul J.H. Schoemaker shares examples of inventions that were judged to be mistakes by the conventional wisdom of their time, but which later proved to be game-changing.
> Learn more in this video interview with the author
Mutual support between you and your manager means that you can trust and rely on one other. The relationship has to be intentionally built and nurtured to go the distance. Below are some articles that can give you perspectives and strategies for managing this important relationship.
> Managing Your Boss
This is a classic HBR article, first published in 1980 and again in 2005, by John Gabarro and John Kotter, giving advice about what senior managers need from you and the mutual dependence on cooperation, reliability, and honesty.
> What Everyone Should Know About Managing Up
In this article from the 23 January 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review, the author Dana Rousmaniere explains the need for different strategies depending on the person you report to.
Manager’s role in knowledge management
The knowledge resources of the UN are vast -- databases, documents, policies, procedures, and the expertise and experience of the staff members. The challenge for managers is to make sure the knowledge generated by a team is captured efficiently and shared effectively.
> Technology resources
Many managers, like staff at large, typically store documents on their computers and on local shared drives. This practice may suffice for basic purposes of safeguarding and sharing information among a small group of colleagues. As a manager, however, it is important to know about the more robust and flexible resources available through the Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT). Click here to find out about the latest services and products available to help you store, share and manage knowledge and information most effectively.
> After-action reviews
An after-action review is a discussion of an action, activity or project that allows a team to reflect on what happened, why it happened, what was learned, what follow-up action should be taken and how it can be done better next time. Ideally, reviews should be a routine part of any action, activity or project with a view towards making recommendations for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Organization.
Visit the Peacekeeping department’s policy and practice website to access after-action review templates in English and French (within UN network).
> Handover notes
When you leave a job it is crucial to leave a full description of your responsibilities and the status of the projects that you are working on. This will help facilitate the effectiveness of the person who takes your place and the work of your team. Handover notes are usually factual in nature and do not contain analysis or assessment information.
Visit the Peacekeeping department’s policy and practice website to access handover note templates in English and French (within UN network).
> End-of-assignment notes for senior peacekeeping staff
End of assignment reports are personal accounts by senior mission staff of lessons learned in the implementation of missions’ mandates and on DPKO/DFS’ institutional capacity to carry out mandated tasks.
End of assignment reports are distinct from Handover Notes, which are strictly factual and do not contain analysis, assessment or evaluation.
Visit the Peacekeeping department’s policy and practice website to access end of assignment templates in English and French (within UN network).
Managing the writing of others
In order to manage the writing of others a person needs to be a skilful and experienced writer and know how to give constructive feedback. The UN has resources that can help you improve your writing and that of your team members.
> Open the resource page on managing the writing of others