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Competencies for the Future

United Nations

“It is my hope that competencies will provide us with shared language for talking , in concrete terms, about high performance and managerial excellence. I believe that a shared view of the standards we are striving to achieve will assist us in our continuing efforts to prepare the Organization to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
KofiAnnan Secretary-General

Introduction to Competencies
In “Building the Future”, the Secretary-General has indicated that the Organization’s greatest strength—and the key to our success—is the quality of our staff and managers. He has stressed that, to capitalize on this strength, we need to create an organizational culture and environment that enables staff to contribute to their maximumpotential. Experience in other organizations has shown that when seeking to create a new culture and build human resources capacity for the future, it is important to define organizational core competencies—the combination of skills, attributes and behaviours which are essential for all staff—as well as the additional managerial competencies required by all those who manage others. Once organizationalcompetencies have been defined, they can be used as a base on which to build and strengthen other human resources systems such as recruitment, placement, development and performance appraisal.

Accordingly, a participatory process, involving staff and managers throughout the Secretariat, was undertaken to define core and managerial competencies for the United Nations Secretariat. This booklet hasbeen prepared to inform staff of the United Nations competencies for the future, to describe how these competencies were arrived at, to provide examples of how the competencies look in action and to indicate how they will be applied in the Secretariat.

What are competencies?
The term “competency” refers to a combination of skills, attributes and behaviours that are directly related tosuccessful performance on the job. Core competencies are the skills, attributes and behaviours which are considered important for all staff of the Organization, regardless of their function or level. Managerial competencies are the skills, attributes and behaviours which are considered essential for staff with managerial or supervisory responsibilities.

Core and managerial competencies are notspecific to any occupation. One could demonstrate the competency of “teamwork” or “client orientation”, for example, in performing any job. Specific technical competencies are not included in the model of United Nations competencies for the future. To complement the core competencies, individual departments may choose to define functional competencies related to their respective areas of work.

Whyare competencies important ?
Defining competencies is important both for the Organization and for staff. Competencies are forward-looking. They describe the skills and attributes staff and managers will need in order to build a new organizational culture and meet future challenges. They help organizations clarify expectations, define future development needs, and do more focused recruitment anddevelopment planning. Competencies provide a sound basis for consistent and objective performance standards by creating shared language about what is needed and expected in an Organization.

How were the United Nations competencies decided?
Core and managerial competencies for the United Nations Secretariat have been developed through a participatory process taking into account the diversity oflevels, functions, cultures and geographic locations of the Organization.

As part of the process, interviews were conducted with the Deputy Secretary-General and twenty-four Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General who head Departments and Offices throughout the Secretariat. They were asked about the Organization's environment, stakeholders, work outputs and...
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