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Human resources... or human beings

A story of Local Response by Luc Barrière-Constantin
Luc Barriere-Constantin
As UN officer in 2007, I was posted as Head of Country in Tanzania where I had 10 staff under my responsibility. During the past years, this team was led in an authoritarian and somewhat unclear manner. The staff was not motivated by their day-to-day work as they did not see many results and, in particular, the whole office was not well considered by our other partners. 
As always, when we are taking on the role of lead of a team, we have first to review and to discuss terms of reference, job-description and work plan with each staff member individually. Instead of doing that, I postponed this part of the work and decided to have a conversation with each member of staff. I asked them what they were proud of, where they were coming from  and what they would like to do and to achieve, both in terms of work and personally. These conversations were very surprising for staff and somewhat uncomfortable at the beginning. 
But gradually, I realised that the mood of the team had changed dramatically in a very positive way as they had the feeling that they were considered as a person first and that their personal concerns were, at the very least, listened to. 
After a few weeks, team members came to see me and mentioned their appreciation of the way I was looking at them. On the long run, this has largely improved the relationships within the team, and with all partners as all staff were much more committed to their work and therefore more effective. 

When we take the time to treat our staff as human beings, they will respond.