March 12, 2020 (ARTA, Djibouti): A group of intelligent and committed individuals does not automatically make an effective team. The performance of any program or a division depends not only on the quality of individual staff members and managers, but especially on how they, as a group, interact, collaborate, and challenge on another and contribute to shared objectives.
Under the leadership of the new Executive Secretary, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD embarked on the development of a “100-days Action Plan” to strengthen individual and institutional performance and capacity to deliver on a mandate that is of critical importance to the IGAD region. As part of this internal capacity stocktaking exercise, IGAD’s Agriculture and Environment Division (AED) held a two-day offsite teambuilding retreat with the overall purpose of finding ways for better coordination, collaboration and synergy in the Division’s implementation of IGAD programs and projects.
From 11-12 March 2020, some 17 colleagues of AED plus associated staff from e.g. support units (e.g. Accounting), worked together in the mountain-area of Arta, to learn about the most common root causes of dysfunctions on teams, and the keys and tools for overcoming them. Based on the widely used model “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team”, participants discussed and committed to context-specific and culturally appropriate strategies they can put to use immediately and apply on an ongoing basis to become more productive and effective as a Division.
The retreat was facilitated by Marco Noordeloos, an executive coach and international management consultant with 20 years’ of experience in leadership and organization development, particularly in the development sector and public sector in Africa, with financial support from the Embassy of Sweden in Addis Ababa.
Mr. Noordeloos said “all participants took a personal assessment which allowed us, as a group, to develop a more intimate understanding of personalities in the group, and behavioural guidelines for effective collaboration and communication based on individual participants’ work-style profiles.”
Other specific outcomes from the retreat included a clear plan for regular thematic and operational meetings at Division-level to facilitate synergy and cross-fertilization of ideas and resources, and the establishment of an internal M&E task force that will leverage currently available expertise to provide more efficient and effective planning, tracking and reporting of activities across the Division.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Moussa, Director of AED stated: “The team that started the retreat yesterday, is not the same team that is going back to the IGAD office today. We are going to make important changes in how we work together. All of us will need to practice the skills we’ve learned and stick with the commitments we’ve made here. And that applies to me as well.”