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 What is a Programme Manager?

As a programme manager you are accountable to your head of department or office for ensuring the delivery of mandated activities by efficiently and effectively managing staff and resources placed under your supervision (ST/SGB/2015/3). In doing so, you will participate in staffing processes, in particular, for positions in the organizational unit that you are currently heading.

 What is different now?

The new staff selection and managed mobility (ST/AI/2016/1) system brings changes to how staffing processes in the UN Secretariat are conducted. The overall objective of these changes is to enable better planning, more consistency and alignment with organizational priorities. Another goal is to ensure the periodic movement of staff so as to offer them development opportunities while ensuring that our workforce is global, adaptable and mobile.

Main changes are:

  • Semi-annual staffing

    • Replacing ad-hoc advertisements
  • A lateral movement opportunity for eligible staff (managed mobility)
    • Enhancing movement opportunities for staff
  • Position occupancy limits
    • Ensuring periodic rotation
  • Standardized assessments under vacancies
    • More consistency and equitable treatment of applicants
  • Centre-led staffing based on job networks
    • Balancing the needs of the staff member, programme manager, department/office, job network and the Organization
  • Delineation of substantive and administrative hiring functions
    • Lifting the administrative burden from programme managers

 What does that mean for me as a programme manager?

Under the “old” staff selection system programme managers acted as hiring managers and would undertake most of the recruitment related functions. Under the new staffing system, programme managers will remain essential to the substantive parts of the staffing process but be less involved with the administrative and HR related parts of the process.

There is also a shift in the way recommendations and selection decisions are made. Whereas under the old system recommendations would be made by the head of department for selections; under the new system recommendations for selection or placement will be made by the Senior Review Board or the Job Network Boards to the Secretary-General or the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, as appropriate, for final decisions taking into account organizational priorities.

 So, what is my responsibility in the staffing process?

As a programme manager you will work closely with your head of department/office and the Network Staffing Team (NST) in OHRM to provide critical substantive input:

For vacancies: For managed mobility:
  • Provide input to the NST on Job Openings based on classified functions of the position.
  • Provide evaluation criteria.
  • Participate in assessment panels (take part in preparing and marking assessments, sit on interview panels).
  • Review of suitable candidates; provide written input and preferences.
  • Provide input to NST for position announcements based on classified functions of the position.
  • Provide suitability criteria.
  • Provide written input and preferences, in ranking order.

Administrative support in the process will be carried out by the Network Staffing Team including:

  • All non-substantive functions such as building Job Openings and position announcements for managed mobility.
  • Screening for eligibility and suitability.
  • Organizing assessments and interviews, drafting assessment reports.
  • Communication with applicants/candidates.

 What are the new staffing bodies and entities?

  • Job Network Board (JNB)
    The Job Network Boards will review and provide recommendations to the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management for selection decisions to fill vacant positions and for placement of staff members in the Professional category up to and including the P-5 level and in the Field Service category under managed mobility. There will be one JNB per job network and it will be comprised of representatives from the respective departments, nominated by the head of department/office. Human Resources Officers will support the board in an ex-officio capacity. Staff representatives will serve in an observer capacity and one of the board members will be nominated as a gender focal point.
  • Senior Review Board (SRB)
    The Senior Review Board is a standing advisory body constituted to review and provide recommendations to the Secretary-General for selection to fill vacant positions and for placement under managed mobility of staff members at the D-1 and D-2 levels in the Secretariat.
  • Global Central Review Body (GRCB)
    The Global Central Review Body is established to review and endorse suitable candidates under consideration to fill vacant positions in the Professional category up to and including the P-5 level and in the Field Service category in the Secretariat.
  • Network Staffing Teams (NSTs)
    In collaboration with departments and offices, the Office of Human Resources Management, through Network Staffing Teams (composed of human resources practitioners and subject matter experts from relevant departments and offices) provide assistance in the filling of vacant positions and the placement of staff members under managed mobility.

Some tips and pointers for programme managers

Here are some pointers to assist programme managers with transitioning into the staffing system:

  • Arising vacancies in your organizational unit will be included in the semi-annual staffing exercises once the job network goes live under the new staffing system. The timeline will be published in an Information Circular at the beginning of the year.
  • Depending on the composition of your unit, there may be staff from different job networks. This means that until all job networks are transitioned in to the new system, the two systems will run in parallel.
  • Under the new system, the filling of vacancies will follow a set timeline. It will take about 170 days from posting to selection decision.
  • In-between the semi-annual exercises you will be able to meet temporary needs by using Temporary Job Openings (TJOs). TJOs continue to be administered directly by the department/offices.
  • Transitional measures are in place to accommodate urgent needs arising for surge, start-up and humanitarian situations. Heads of departments/offices will retain their authority to laterally reassign staff members in situations listed above.
  • Based on position occupancy limits, staff on your team who have reached their maximum position occupancy limit will move to a new position through a managed mobility exercise. It might be good for you to understand how many staff in your unit are close to reaching the maximum.
  • Other staff on your team may choose to opt into an exercise once they meet the minimum position occupancy limit. Staff do not require permission from their supervisors to participate in a managed mobility exercise but are encouraged to let you know if they plan to do so. Once participation of a position in a managed mobility exercise is confirmed, the programme manager will be notified. The NST will then be in touch with you and provide you a list of suitable candidates who have expressed interest in the particular position in your department or office.
  • Both, for vacancies and managed mobility, programme managers will be able to provide input on candidates for positions in their organizational unit and only suitable candidates that match the position criteria will go forward. The final recommendations are made by Senior Review Board or Job Network Boards composed of departmental representatives and are sent to the Secretary-General or the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, as appropriate, for final decision.
  • Staff members who are placed under managed mobility will not retain a lien on their position. Liens may only be granted by a programme manager in situations of temporary assignment or secondment/loan.
  • Keep in mind that also you may be subject to periodic movement.