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COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the functioning of all businesses, entrepreneurs and industries the world over. Leaders and managers, whether from the business sector, the education system, or the development sector, had to modify their leadership styles to meet the demands and sustain their businesses in these unprecedented times.

Under its Capacity Enhancement Programme, Community World Service Asia (CWSA) developed a strategy to equip Pakistan’s current and future humanitarian leaders with the leadership skills necessary to run their organisations in turbulent times such as COVID-19. CWSA has conducted virtual trainings in the first quarter of the year on quality and accountability, but with decline in COVID-19 in April and introduction of vaccines, the organization resumed in-person trainings, following strict SOPs with COVID 19 guidelines in place. The guidelines wereshared along with the invitation, and reiterated every day of the training in addition to placing santizers and masks in all common areas.  

As part of implementing the strategy, CWSA organised an open-call training on Leading in Complexity and Uncertainty in which 17 participants representing 14 NGOs and INGOs participated and exchanged new experiences and learnings. 

Arif Jabbar[1], a renowned leadership coach with two decades of experience in the local and global humanitarian and development sector lead the training and applied the ‘Authentic Leader’ approach in most of the sessions, providing equal opportunities to participants to reflect on their leadership style and its relevance and effectiveness in the context of Covid-19. This enabled the participants to learn about new and existing leadership competencies based on research with contemporary leaders. During the training participants also practiced and sharpened their personal leadership skills and competencies through practical exercises.

Adopting a participatory approach through most of the training, Arif engaged participants in group exercises to promote peer learning. In one exercise, participants were divided in four groups, namely Norms Committee, Feedback Committee, Games Committee, and the Complaints Committee. Tasks were assigned to each group with the purpose of completing the tasks with giving the least instructions in twenty minutes. After performing the tasks successfully, the participants shared that they panicked for a while due to the time constraint and absence of detailed instructions but they were ultimately able to reach the goal. In response, Arif Jabbar shared that the real-world does not give us parameters or instructions and that the real leaders and successful organisations are the ones who can survive in situations like these.”

Rabel Sadozai, National Marketing Manager at Fatima Fertilizers, was invited as a guest speaker through a virtual online session. As the National Marketing Manager, Rabel leads the brands, channel and exports businesses at Fatima Fertilizers and has a rich corporate sector experience. In her discussion with participants, Rabel shared the need of exceedingly focused individuals in the development sector with the ability to consistently accomplish humanitarian objectives through attention to detail and being able to thrive in high-pressure, deadline-driven environments. “The challenges faced amid COVID-19, especially during remote management, built a gap between the managers and their teams. It was essential for regular communication in these times as physical contact was minimal. We prompt up our online communication and encouraged teams to provide updates as frequently as possible. This allowed us to overcome the communication gap that arose due to remote working. it was also important to keep teams motivated and let them know that we as managers are here for them even in times of difficulties. We also held casual meetings to maintain staff well-being and be supporting models, as everyone was going through tough times.”

A video of Martin Luther king was screened during the trianing to show participants his vision and communication style. The session on Vision and Communication shared various visions of companies including Tesla and Google to give participants a clear understanding on the conceot of vision. Participants learned the essential steps that need to be taken in developing a clear vision for themselves and their organisation. “It is key to know the right communication medium to inspire people thorugh your vision. Storytelling is one of the most effective tools used to impact audiences,” said Arif. Participants then worked on developing a personal and organisational vision in an exercise.

Participant Takeaways:

  • “Effective and continuous communication in key in creating a sustainable working environment during unprecedented times.”Javaid Ahmad, Aga Khan Agency for Habitat
  • “Conveying the organisational vision is key to build trust with communities we work with. It is important that the organisation’s vision is understood and enforced in its true meaning.” Saima Noreen, Sojhla Welfare Foundation
  • “Staff at any position can implement interactive activities to promote efficient communication while working remotely. These interactive exercises help staff to overcome challenges and work towards solutions as a team.” Nabia Farrah, Secours Islamique France

[1] He was the Chief of Party of USAID Ambassador’s Fund Grant Programme and has served in Oxfam International as the Global Head of Humanitarian Campaigns, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Southern Africa and East Asia and Country Director in Pakistan and South Africa.

“The smiles we bring to the faces of the individuals we work for inspires me to keep going and serve as many people as possible.”

Muhammad Waseem has been actively working as a humanitarian practitioner in Pakistan’s development sector since the past seven years. As Manager Quality Assurance in Association for Gender Awareness & Human Empowerment (AGAHE), I am responsible to develop, review and implement a robust Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning framework and tools. The objective is to facilitate measurement of progress and enhance compliance of programmes and projects with AGAHE standards, policy framework and best practices. AGAHE is working on various thematic areas, including Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH), Food Security & Livelihoods, Health & Nutrition, Disaster Risk Reduction & Resilience, and Governance.”

“Managing teams was the most challenging responsibility after being promoted to Manager Quality Assurance. Since the promotion took place during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the projects became extremely time-sensitive, and workload was at an all-time high. I always believed that working in a group was more efficient than working alone. But it did not take me long to realise that it’s only easier when done right. Team chemistry, capabilities, and challenges faced are the most essential factors to consider while dealing with teams in times of crisis. After hearing about the training workshop on ‘Leading in Complexity and Uncertainty’ in April from a friend, I immediately applied,” shared Waseem.

Seventeen participants representing 14 national and international non-governmental organisations took part in the training. Waseem, along with other humanitarian workers, explored various leadership styles and skills during the training and analysed their own leadership styles based on self-assessments. Participants learned new methodologies and tool to improve their leadership skills and devised strategies for peer assistance exercises and technical mentorship. “The training material was prepared with the participants’ consent. This was a motivating aspect since it allowed us, as participants, to suggest essential subjects for inclusion in the training agenda, making the training more relevant and effective in terms of learning. Arif Jabbar, the lead facilitator, adopted a participatory approach throughout the five-day workshop which enabled an effective sharing and learning process among all us participants.”

Waseem was new to the MBTI and Emotional Intelligence models of self-awareness that were introduced in the training. “It’s hardly news that people leave organisations because of poor management. Tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) can be extremely helpful here. The MBTI and Emotional Intelligence workshop was an excellent method for us to develop our own self-awareness, and it also served as a strong foundation for learning what would potentially frustrates or upsets others. This session’s group activity targeted at self-assessment in times of complexity and uncertainty, allowing us to discover important qualities to work more successfully with others and manage our team in a more emotionally intelligent manner.”

Waseem initiated regular meetings with his team members after taking the training. “The ‘Leader as a Coach’ session improved my communication skills and helped me understand my team’s dynamics more. I started scheduling twice-monthly meetings with my team members to give them an opportunity to share their challenges and work together to find solutions. Keeping the mechanism of accountability in place without compromising teams’ trust and confidence was a big challenge. Meetings with teams that worked remotely helped to bridge the communication gap and accelerate project delivery. This initiative has increased our team’s productivity and motivation to work in unprecedented times.”

Constant communication with his teams has been a game changer for Waseem. “My staff has more faith in me and the work we are doing now. Overcoming my negative leadership qualities and improving team communication has increased my team’s trust in me, and we are now working more collectively than ever before.”

When: 24-26 August 2021
Where: Murree Punjab
Language: Urdu
Interested Applicants: Click here to register
Last Date to Apply: 5th August 2021

Rationale:

Since the 1950s the development agenda has been characterized by projects and programmes aimed at improving the quality of life of beneficiary communities, be it in physical or qualitative terms. Despite significant inputs of human and financial resources, many fell short of expectations. Projects failed to meet the priority needs of communities; stated outputs were not achieved or, if achieved, not sustained; target groups did not benefit in the manner intended; project costs escalated and implementation dates slipped, and adverse outcomes were not anticipated.

These failures were attributed in part to poor project management, such as inadequate opportunities for potential beneficiaries to participate in project identification, weak financial management, inadequate monitoring during implementation, poor linkages between project activities and project purpose, and insufficient attention to the external environment during project design. It was also recognised that projects were more likely to succeed when account was taken of the socio-economic context in which they operated.

The rationale for imparting training of NGOs in project cycle management is the wish to achieve sustainable development. Projects should identify and understand the different roles and entitlements between various beneficiaries in focused communities, and the special challenges faced by disadvantaged groups. During recent decades, many tools have been developed to strengthen the management of projects, such as project cycle management, the logical framework and rapid appraisal techniques. Similarly, technological revolution has also contributed significantly to plan, design, implement and keep track of the activities by all team members while geographically spread and/or different locations.

Participants of the training will go through all critical phases of project cycle management both theoretically and practically and there will be ample room through group exercises to benefit from the rich knowledge of participants that they will be bringing from their respective fields and focus areas.

The training will specifically focus on:

  • Comprehend concepts and terminologies of Project, Project Management
  • Recognize various phases of Project Cycle Management and its importance
  • Understand and sharpen their skills to use various analytical tools for Project Identification
  • Use Project structure, Logical Framework Analysis, External Environment, OVI and sustainability and work plans based on activity analysis during projects’ design phase and preparation phase
  • Learn to undertake use of technology for documentation, communication, quality assessments at each phase of PCM

Number of Participants

  • A maximum of 20 participants will be selected for the training. Women applications, differently abled persons and staff belonging to ethnic/religious minorities are encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to participants representing organizations working in remote and under-served areas.

Selection Criteria

  • Primary responsibility for program/project management.
  • Mid or senior level manager in a civil society organization, preferably field staff of large CSOs or CSOs with main office in small towns and cities
  • Participants from women led organisations, different abled persons, religious/ethnic minorities will be given priority
  • This 3-day training session is suitable for CSO and NGO workers of all levels particularly from locally-based organizations with a small staff size
  • Willing to pay fee PKR 10,000 for the training. Exemptions may be applied to CSOs with limited funding and those belonging to marginalised groups. Discount of 10% on early registration by 1st August 2021 and 20% discount will be awarded to women participants
  • Commitment to apply learning in their work, including dissemination of learning within their organisation Commitment to apply learning in their work, including dissemination of learning within their organisation

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is a humanitarian and development organization, registered in Pakistan, head-quartered in Karachi and implementing initiatives throughout Asia. CWSA is member of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) Alliance, a member of Sphere and their regional partner in Asia and also manages the ADRRN Quality & Accountability Hub in Asia.
Facilitator/Lead Trainer:

Ms. Sofia Noreen is an ambitious professional with over 28 years’ eventful career studded with brilliance predominantly in the area of research, program/ project designing and execution, monitoring, international development, and liaison & coordination. Her areas of focus include Gender and Women Empowerment, Climate Change/ Food Security within rural communities, and Governance issues both at policy and implementation levels.

She is a dependable professional with a comprehensive understanding of Pakistani politics, the parliamentary setup, and electoral reform agenda and familiar with election management systems both for general and local bodies elections.

Ms. Sofia has delivered multi-day training programs on train-the-trainer, team building, and other related topics. She is an articulate communicator who is highly well versed in Log Frame Analysis, Risk Analysis, and management for Result Based Management, budgeting, staff recruitment, capacity development, NGO management, stakeholder engagement, evaluation of program and projects, report writing, and manuals. Throughout her career, she has been committed to following the principles set forth with the UDHR, ICCPR, CEDAW, and other international conventions and standards.

Scholarship Details: Special Scholarships are available for those organization that send two or more females to attend the training.

Additional Details: The final deadline for applications is August 5th, 2021. Please be assured that incomplete applications will not be entertained.

Training Date: June 8 – 10, 2021
Last date of Registration: 28th April 2021
Link for the Registration: https://tinyurl.com/u8b5mtbs
Location: Murree

Covid-19 has challenged traditional leadership styles and forced leaders to adapt their leadership approaches in dealing with the uncertainties brought about by the virus and its widespread impact. NGO leaders have also been faced with dilemmas and ambiguities that they have never been exposed to.

This training on Leading in Complexity and Uncertainty will use the ‘Authentic Leader’ approach and will provide opportunities to participants to reflect on their leadership style and its relevance and effectiveness in the context of Covid-19. It will give them knowledge on leadership competencies based on research with contemporary leaders. They will also have opportunities for practicing and sharpening their personal leadership skills and competencies.

The methodology of this training includes self-reflection and analysis, working with friends and colleagues, and a range of practical exercises (but considering social distancing).
These will be interspersed with presentations by the external trainer and experience sharing sessions by prominent leaders from the development and corporate sectors.
Coaching and mentoring support will be provided to 30% of participating organizations to help them effectively apply their learning.

Objectives

At the end of the training, participants will:

  • Understand the different leadership styles and competencies.
  • Reflect on their leadership style based on their self- assessment and others’ perceptions/feedback.
  • Sharpen/strengthen their leadership competencies.
  • Develop action plans for peer support and coaching/mentoring.

Methodology

The approach used in this training is the ‘Blended Learning’ approach developed by CWSA in its previous phases. The approach is participatory and needs based in nature. It consists of a selection of participants from diverse organizations at different levels, content, and methodology designed with and based on the needs of the training participants, use of experienced and knowledgeable trainers, flexible content and methodology during the training, development of action plans and follow up refreshers and coaching and mentoring support.

Number of Participants

18-20 participants will be selected for the training. Women staff and those persons with disabilities and from ethnic/religious minorities are encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to participants from organisations based in underserved areas.

Selection Criteria

  • No previous exposure/participation in leadership training.
  • Mid or senior-level manager in a civil society organisation, preferably field staff of large CSOs or CSOs with the main office in small towns and cities.
  • Participants from women-led organisations, persons with disabilities, religious/ethnic minorities will be preferred.
  • Willingness to contribute PKR 20,000 for the training. Exemptions may be applied for by CSOs with limited funding and those from marginalized groups. Discount of 10% on early Registration by 20th April 2021 and 20% discount will be awarded to women participants.
  • Commitment to apply learning in their work, including dissemination of learning within their organisation.

Download Brochure

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National level organizations are considered agents of change as they amplify community voices through awareness raising and networking. Consequently, they play an instrumental role in education and changing public opinion and often collaborate on initiatives to ensure that social development concerns of communities at local, provincial and national level are addressed.

To achieve effective sustainable change, NGOs must have the ability to plan and facilitate efficient communication processes that mobilize efforts at both the organizational and programmatic levels. Consciousness, relationship building and networking is key to enabling positive policy change in favor of marginalized communities.

Community World Service Asia conducted a five-day training on “Influencing for positive change” in Murree. Twenty-one humanitarian and development practitioners from local organizations across Pakistan, participated in the five-day residential training in December 2019. The lead trainer of the training, Aftab Ahmed Awan, is a development professional and Human Rights and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights expert with 15 years of experience in the field of development and Human Rights Programs Management, working with government, national and international developmental organizations. Currently he is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Society for Sustainable Development (SSD) in Islamabad.

The agenda of the training enabled participants to understand tools and approaches for influencing and making decisions towards sustainable change. The sessions enhanced knowledge on developing strategic approaches for the policy engagement. Participants were equipped with strategic communication plans to design campaigns for social change through policy reforms on local and national level. The training sessions applied a participatory approach, that included role plays, group exercises and discussions and kept participants engaged throughout the workshop.

The session on ‘Understanding and Contextualizing Influencing’ helped participants identify relevant stakeholders, set goals and define strategies to achieve their objectives. Influencing messages were the key highlight that tailored to specific target audiences in order to frame the issue and persuade others to support the network’s position. In group assignments, participants developed key messages for their relevant target audiences. The participants were asked to keep two key elements in mind while developing the messages, namely language and content. The content refers to the central idea of the message while language consists of the words, we choose for communicating our message.

Stakeholder’s analysis is important to build a consensus to support a network’s Influencing issue. The larger the support base, the greater are the chances of success. Group activities aided in strengthening networks to build alliances. These alliances aim to work together to achieve common goals.

Participants’ Voices:

 “The training on Influencing Positive Change was a great learning experience. Aftab, our lead trainer, an energetic and motivational person kept us engaged throughout the sessions. The participatory approach allowed us to engage, interact and learn from each other’s’ experiences.” Sardar Shahzeb Hanif, Read Foundation

“The resource person, Aftab, had a good grip on the sessions he conducted. The training was very engaging and interactive. The sessions on development of effective messages, risk analysis and mitigation strategies provided knowledge and ways to involve communities in the humanitarian actions.”  Ambreen Kanwal, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO)

“The training was really thoughtful, and according to the needs and expectations as mentioned in the baseline and Training Needs Assessment. The activities during the training has advanced my knowledge on stakeholder analysis, behavior change communications, political analysis and monitoring and evaluation in the process of influencing for positive change.  The contents delivered during the sessions were well planned and informative.”  Dr. Muhammad Shafi, Brook Pakistan

The sessions provided ample information on policy analysis, developing effective communications skills and designing influential key messages to deliver during campaigns. The diverse group present at the training allowed experience sharing and productive networking.”  Zafar Malik. Aaghaz Foundation

“I am grateful to get this opportunity to learn and enhance my experience. The training materials were easy to understand and accessible. I am more confident now to plan a campaign for influencing and delivering positive messages for change. The sessions on power analysis, risk assessment and communication strategies have enabled me to plan campaigns on interesting topics and convey the right message. The action plans developed on the last day will help us utilize our learning and implement the tools we have learnt for effective campaigns.”  Zunaira Cheema, Youth Development Center, Punjab House

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For any new employee, it takes time to learn and adjust to their new working environment. Through leadership training with Community World Service Asia, Samsam Haider—a new Agriculture Development Officer for the Farmers Friend Organization (FFO) Support Program—is starting his career in development with important skills to excel in his challenging and multifaceted role.

After completing his M.Phil. degree in Agricultural Extension eight months ago, Samsam started working in the FFO Support System Program’s Operations Department. Samsam is responsible for developing and organizing Farmers Field Schools (FFS) and providing assistance to agriculture projects. He also organizes capacity development initiatives and performs departmental tasks involving data collection and management and monthly reporting.

According to Samsam, the FFO Support Program’s projects involve many different components, such as Human and Institutional Development, Health and Nutrition, Youth Development, Women’s Empowerment and more. Each component requires strong leadership skills, high confidence and effective team building skills to generate positive and productive outcomes.

Samsam says he participated in the Leadership Development for Managers (LDM) training workshop organized by Community World Service Asia in April 2019 because

The workshop was the essential platform for me to excel in my skills.

He added that the training taught him more than its name implied and was helpful both in his role at work and in his personal interactions. He commented,

The workshop was not limited to leadership content, as it also covered management styles, communication skills and motivation and team building. The training provided the opportunity to learn how to incorporate leadership strategies in our practical and professional lives.

For example, following the training, Samsam said he was able to apply the Conflict Management Style right away with his colleagues to understand their behavior and management traits. He explained,

A person’s behavior varies in different situations of conflict management. It can be difficult for me to judge the situation. To combat this, I developed a 15-statement form for various colleagues to rate their views on different situations occurring in the workplace. It was an interesting exercise, as I got to know how different individuals perform in various situations. Moreover, it helped me understand the working environment and the nature of my colleagues,

Samsam said.

Now, he says, he feels much more prepared for many different challenges and scenarios that will inevitably occur as he grows in his career. He said,

The learning I gained from the LDM Workshop has been fruitful, as it helped me to know my colleagues better. I learnt basic leadership skills and explored the latest trends and techniques of leadership to incorporate in my professional life. I will seek more learning opportunities focused on building capacities in communication skills, managerial leadership, time management and team building.

In addition to his own growth, he is also sharing what he learned with others at the monthly meeting of the FFO Support Program’s Operations Management Focus Group. Though Samsam is one of the newer faces at work, he—like a true leader—is already working to improve the culture of his organization through learning and collaboration.

A group photo of participants with Uma and Community World Service Asia Staff.

Organizations want to be strongly committed to international quality and accountability initiatives when responding to humanitarian crises for a more sustainable impact on the lives of affected populations and towards its implementing partners and staff. For this reason, the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) on Quality and Accountability (Q&A) guides organizations and individuals how to ensure they deliver quality, effective and accountable humanitarian responses. The nine commitments of the CHS, supported by guidance notes and indicators, provide a detailed information for organizations demonstrating how humanitarians can deliver high-quality programmes consistently and be accountable to those they assist.  The people affected by crisis are put at the center of humanitarian action and the respect of their fundamental human rights is promoted through the CHS.

To work consistently to improve the quality and accountability in humanitarian responses, Community World Service Asia organized a 3-Day Workshop on Quality and Accountability for Project Management for the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) staff and its partners. Twenty-five participants from 16 organizations gathered in Murree from 22nd till 24th of July, 2019 to mainstream CHS and its nine commitments for better quality and greater accountability in all aspects of engagement with communities and people affected by crisis.

The training introduced the Humanitarian Principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, that offered a common basis to underpin all humanitarian action. Participants were divided in groups of 4 each, where they discussed each principle and what it meant to them. The session reaffirmed the importance of promoting and respecting these principles within the framework of humanitarian assistance.  The training elaborated each commitment of the CHS to assess and ensure the quality of our work, to reduce the risk of mistakes, abuse and corruption, and continuously improve our work – for the benefit of the participants’ organizations and the people they work for.

In the session on Core Commitment 1, participants were divided in four groups where two groups discussed projects which took people-centered approach and the other two discussed projects that did not consider people-centered approach. The group discussions unfolded the importance of relevancy and appropriateness of humanitarian response to cater the needs of the affected communities. In another group activity under Core Commitment 2, two groups of men participants debated against the two women participants’ groups. Two groups were for and the other two were against the statement: “Communities and affected people have access to the assistance they need at the right time”. Through this session, participants were trained to design programmes that address constraints for proposed actions to be realistic and safe for communities. In addition, the debate highlighted the significance of delivering humanitarian response in a timely manner, making decisions and acting without unnecessary delay.

Formal mechanisms for complaints and redress are an essential component of an agency’s accountability and give affected communities some element of control over their lives. Participants shared some constraints people face that prevent them from lodging complaints. Some challenges included fear, job insecurity, cultural barriers, no response from concerned departments and sympathy. On day 3 of the training, the fish bowl activity was conducted where the partners of NCA formed a circle to share their relationship with NCA. Uma Naraynan, the training facilitator said, “The purpose of the exercise is to share opinions equally to maintain accountability.” Partners shared that NCA provides technical support when required and frequent visits are planned with timely feedback. Moreover, NCA respects their organizational mandate. Some recommendations were also shared including policy and SOPs orientation, guidelines for improved and consistent reporting and provision of field level training in relation to reporting and mobilization. The NCA representatives formed a circle in response to share their feedback with partner organizations. Some of the feedback was focused on building understanding of grant agreements and developing clarity of deliverables and reporting. In addition, NCA requested partner representative to share capacities and exposure of staff in order to enhance skills.

At the end of the training, participants prepared action plans on how they aim to implement the learnings of the CHS training and incorporate the nine commitments and the four humanitarian principles in their organizational systems and programs. The training concluded with a ceremony of certificate distribution.

Participants Voices:

“We have been implementing the Core Humanitarian Standards in our organization but were not aware of the CHS structure of nines commitments. In the training, we learnt to review and ensure our programs’ quality and accountability in accordance to the nine commitments and the humanitarian principles.”

Pirbu Satyani, Regional Coordinator, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO)

“Bargad is involved in a range of projects. We have been implementing the nine commitments of CHS throughout our projects. However, this training provided us with clarity regarding the CHS structure and the humanitarian principles to improve our organizational systems and practices in accordance to the Core Humanitarian Standard and promote quality and accountability in humanitarian response.”

Usman Yunus, Program Coordinator, Bargad

“The key learnings from the 3-day Q&A workshop were, firstly, the importance of identifying the needs of the communities we are working in. If we are working in communities without knowing the needs, our efforts are not productive and effective. Secondly, the significance of stakeholders as we are working in collaboration with them on various projects. Lastly, it is essential for projects to be relevant and appropriate to meet the needs of the communities and affected people by crisis.”

Zara, Manager Human & Institutional Development, Civil Society Support Program

Group photo of participants with Uma and Community World Service Asia staff.

Humanitarian and development organizations exist to support vulnerable and marginalized communities with the most high-quality, accountable and effective responses possible. This requires humanitarian and development staff who possess the right skills to achieve goals and overcome challenges inherent to humanitarian work. Supporting this aim, Community World Service Asia organized a four-day training course on competency-based human resources (HR) for 19 professionals from humanitarian and corporate organizations in Pakistan in July 2019.

Competency-based HR supports efficient and productive recruiting, training and management and is accelerating the professionalization of the humanitarian sector. The training—titled “Competency-based HR Practices Using the Core Humanitarian Competency Framework” (CHCF)—was based on the proven CHCF tool, developed in 2011.[1] The CHCF identifies a set of core competencies—including specific behaviors that support program quality or minimizing risk, for example—that serve as a reference and resource for humanitarian workers to guide the processes for both day-to-day and long-term decision making and management.

The trainer, Uma Narayanan, started the course by defining the notion of competency and showing how the results of a competency analysis can inform and improve the HR processes of performance management, recruitment and selection, employee development and employee compensation. She then divided participants into six groups of three each to practice applying the CHCF to strengthen their humanitarian response initiatives. Using questions based on the CHCF, two people in each group interviewed a candidate (the third participant in the group) for an HR position. Participants found the exercise to be helpful in decision-making, finding the right person for the right job and bringing more transparency into recruiting processes.

Uma explained, “Although the HR personnel does not have the technical knowledge of the hiring position, he or she can bring in observation skills during the interviewing sessions.” In facilitating the training, she leveraged her experience as a specialist in HR, quality management and organizational development in the humanitarian and development sector. With a background in International Organizational and Systems Development, she has worked as an Organization Development and HR practitioner mostly in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Europe, for more than a decade.

A competency-based framework also supports the performance development process by identifying what is critical for success; then, support and feedback can be focused accordingly. In the Competency-Based Performance Assessment session, participants carried out a self-assessment of their competencies using their job profile to help identify key areas of focus. Participants were directed to rate themselves on a scale of 0 to 3 under each competency, where 0 means the stated competencies are not required for current role, 1 is Not met/Partially met, 2 is Met and 3 is Exceeds/Advanced proficiency.

Sadia Usman, Vice President of HR for Shakarganj Food Products Limited, found the self-assessment to be very eye-opening.

As I am heading the HR department in my organization, I believed that I must exceed in most competencies. However, assessing myself with evidence made the rating process difficult. This was a healthy exercise to know how we are working in our field. While rating myself, I found out that I was partially meeting the competencies instead of exceeding them.

Finally, participants were presented with a set of motivating factors in the Learning and Development session, consisting of 10 features that encourage staff to perform better. The features included working conditions, salary and benefits, job status, management recognitions and others. Each participant was asked to arrange the motivating factors according to priority—what motivated them the most and the least. Participants learnt that the competency framework, in conjunction with the job description and the self-assessment tool, can be used to get to know their team’s current performance. Taken together, these helped the participants learn to make judgments on future potential, identify the areas for growth and recognize how these relate to aspiration, ability and engagement.

The attendees were excited to take these skills and tools back to their organizations. Isma Amin, Head of HR for Secours Islamique France-SIF, said,

The training was very interesting in terms of learning the CHCF. The group activities kept us engaged throughout the training, and each exercise complemented the session and built a clear understanding of the CHCF. Uma developed a friendly and open-sharing environment where all of us felt comfortable while sharing opinions.

Another participant, Samra Rehman, HR Manager for the International Federation of Red Cross, shared,

Being an HR professional, I believe I can improve some HR practices in my organization on my return. I plan to give an orientation session on the CHCF with the staff of IRC. Moreover, the competency framework for talent management can be exercised in our field of work which will transparently assess performance and potential of employees.


[1] Developed by representatives from a cross-section of humanitarian organizations under the auspices of the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (now the Start Network).

In Pakistan, national organizations are playing a vital role in pushing for social development agendas by actively complementing the work of the government, media and other stakeholders towards achieving the ultimate goal of creating a progressive society. To do this and to effectively contribute to the country’s social and economic progress, it is necessary for civil society organizations (CSOs) to be equipped with the required knowledge and strong influencing skills.

As a key activity of Community World Service Asia’s Capacity Enhancement Project, a training on “Influencing for positive change” for local and national level organizations was organized to strengthen the skills and technical ability of CSO staff to implement advocacy and awareness raising projects and engage communities in the process more effectively.

The training was a five-day course and took place in Murree with a daily attendance of twenty-four participants representing five different national non-profit organizations.

Aftab Ahmed Awan, is a humanitarian professional with more than 15 years’ of experience in strategic direction, development and implementation of organizational policies and frameworks and resource mobilization, facilitated the sessions. Natasha Sajjad, Policy Advocacy & Influencing Specialist, co-facilitated along with Aftab.

Along the five-day course, participants learnt to differentiate between influencing and networking and were introduced to new and most effective tools and approaches applied to tasks and activities linked to influence.

To enhance participants’ knowledge on developing a strategic approach towards policy engagement and its communication, participants were engaged in designing real campaigns for social change through policy reforms. Through this exercise, they practically learnt new skills and approaches applied to “influencing” for successful campaigns.

Some of the participating organizations wanted to develop new skills to effectively implement their projects that involved activities that required influencing policymakers and overcome challenges of communication and monitoring campaigns through this training. Most of these participants were well satisfied with what they learnt as the trainer shared different tactics to utilize and overcome challenges faced during campaigns. Action plans for future campaigns were developed by participants and were to be further refined with their teams in their respective offices. As a follow up of the training, participants were offered technical support post-training to ensure finalization of action plans.

Participants’ Voices:

Ali Anwar, Program Officer MEAL, LASOONA

“Having the experience of a number of trainings, this training came out to be different and significant in terms of content, methodology and management. The topics were linked to our work and provided a good experience. The training was quite interactive and allowed an open platform for transparent learning from all participants’ experiences.”

Ishrat, Team Leader, Peace & Development organization

“Working directly with community becomes challenging at times. This training provided technical solutions to overcome the challenges and influence the people through effective campaigns. It provided in-depth knowledge on different aspects such as design, power analysis of stakeholders, setting goals and objectives, developing key messages and choosing the right medium for communication. The participatory approach adopted in the workshop allowed equal engagement of participants.”

Hassan Jamil, Monitoring Officer, The Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF)

“Attending the workshop was a very interesting experience.  I had a mixed opinion of the development sector, prior to this workshop. This workshop developed an optimistic view of humanitarian work and refined my knowledge for bringing a positive change in the society we live in. The interaction with experienced humanitarian professionals helps me build a clear understanding of running successful campaigns and influencing people to work for the progress of underprivileged societies.”

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A group photo of training participants with the resource person, Syed Ali Moazzam and the team of Community World Service Asia.

What is social mobilization? Social mobilization is the primary step of community development for recovery from conflicts and disasters. It allows people to think and understand their situation and to organize and initiate action for their recovery with their own initiative and creativity[1]. Through mobilization, people can organize themselves to take action collectively by developing their own plan and strategy for recovery rather than being imposed from outside. It is essential to understand the basic idea of social mobilization and its uses before practically implementing it.

Advocating the mobilization and participation of communities at all levels of project interventions, Community World Service Asia recognizes that project and field staff in the humanitarian and development sector must be equipped with adequate skills and expertise on how to interact with communities and build relations of long-lasting trust with them. To further this cause, Community World Service Asia, held and conducted a four-day training on “Essentials of Social Mobilization” for local level organizations in Murree, Pakistan, in early August. Twenty-seven participants from ten organizations participated in this training.

The training introduced the various social mobilization skills required to motivate communities to bring about positive and sustainable changes in their society by building opinion on social issues. The opportunities and challenges faced by development workers were outlined and skills were enhanced on communication, conflict resolution, decision-making and problem solving to work more effectively with communities.  The training elaborated on organizational policies to ensure inclusion of the marginalized segment of society especially to promote women participation in all processes of social mobilization. Participants developed skills to devise organizational strategies by engaging people to take ownership of their issues and resolve them by using local resources.

The prime focus of the training was to strengthen the capacity of local level organizations directly engaged in community mobilization and on-ground development initiatives. In the needs assessment, most of the participants showed interest in learning how to draft social mobilization strategies, using Participatory Rapid Assessment (PRA) tools, practicing effective communication skills, conflict resolution and how to identify local issues to advocate for social change. They also expressed an interest in enhancing their leadership skills to ensure effective social mobilization and women participation in the development process.

Once the participants for the training were finalized, they were included in all processes of the training design; from conceptualization to designing and activity planning. A training baseline survey was also conducted to learn about participating organizations’ policies, strategies and programs related to social mobilization and understand their organizational limitations and priorities.

Practicing the blended learning approach, the participants were divided in groups and given assignments. This exercise gave them the opportunity to learn by sharing experiences. A panel discussion was also held in which specialists selected from among the groups, with relevant experience, highlighted issues pertaining to lack of women empowerment. The purpose of this activity was to promote peer learning and sharing of contextualized best practices through open discussions, one-on-one talks and formal presentations among various organizations.

Key Learnings

The session on Participatory Rapid Assessment (PRA) allowed knowledge building on PRA tools including Focus Group Discussion, Key Informant Interview (KII), Social Mapping, Seasonal Calendar and transect walk. In a group activity, participants were divided in two teams. Both teams were assigned to work on different PRA tools. Team A worked on the transect walk, social mapping and KII, while team B’s task was to work on drafting a seasonal calendar by interviewing local people and conducting FGDs with a selected group of people. The teams performed actively and presented their work. The resource person identified some gaps and explained the tools for further clarity.

Another major need highlighted by the social mobilizers was to learn about the strategies and skills to overcome conflicts, communicate effectively in the community, enhance skills for effective conflict resolution, and trust building among communities.

Through adopting  various interactive learning methodologies, participants identified the many challenges faced regarding power dynamics, balanced inclusion and participation while working in the community and learnt how to overcome those through conflict management, conflict resolution, effective communication strategies and different styles of leadership according to situations and people needs.

Muhammad Taj, with 25 years of extensive experience working with Sungi Development Foundation on social mobilization, shared his practical experiences and strategies to motivate people and communities to realize challenges and try to resolve their issues collaboratively with the support of local organizations. The training facilitator further encouraged participants to work on devising policies and strategies on social mobilization and provide guidelines to field workers on how to mobilize people to speak about their issues and work together with them on realizing their basic fundamental rights.

Steps ahead

Participants developed organizational action plans, chalking out the roadmap for implementing the learnings of the training. They plan to share their respective action plans with their organizations.

[1] UN Habitat

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