Abuja, 25 May, 2021 – World Health Organization in Nigeria has concluded a retreat to improve the alignment of staff around the goal of becoming an agile organization that is engaged for transformation and cultural change.
Since 2015, the Transformation Agenda of the WHO Secretariat in the African Region, has sought to transform WHO/AFRO into a more responsive, results-driven, efficient, transparent and accountable Organization. Dr Kizito Nsarhaza, Special Advisor on Change Management at the WHO Africa Regional Office (AFRO) noted, “Events like these are important for building understanding and engagement on the regional and global Transformation Agenda for WHO. It is essential that we focus our efforts on supporting country offices to continue to drive improvements through change and consolidate achievements and lessons learnt from the Transformation into results and impacts at the country level.”
Representatives of staff from the WHO Nigeria country and zonal offices converged for a three-day change management retreat from 19-21 May 2021 in Abuja.
While providing his opening remarks, the WHO Country Representative, said “I hope the retreat will reinvigorate us to recommit to the key tenets i.e. professionals committed to excellence in health, always trusted to serve public health and persons of integrity.
He tasked participants to ensure that, “We challenge the status quo and efficiently produce results within the new WHO operating model in which we have a high-performing and capacitated country office”.
Facilitator’s and participants perspectives
There were 42 particpants drawn from the Country and Field offices who all have individual perspectives of the retreat but were generally agree that it was timely and unprecedented for effective management of resources.
The Lead Facilitator at the retreat, Ms Nicole Kelm, a consultant with Transformation and Innovation initiatives at AFRO said, “This workshop is built on the work that has been done as part of the Transformation Agenda and building capacity for change management at the WCO level. WCO Nigeria is undergoing significant transition and events like this help teams to continue to innovate and produce continuous improvements for the organization’s culture and performance.”
In his contribution, Mr Paul Lawrence Carlson, Security Coordinator & Compliance Team Leader,WHO, Emergency Operation Centre said, “The retreat for me was an opportunity to discuss WHO Culture and Change Management in an open and friendly forum and listen to the views of other staff members on this subject.” “The workshop/retreat was professionally facilitated encouraging us all to think laterally in the interests of WHO.Well done to the retreat committee and organizational team.”
On his part, Dr Rex Mpazanje, Cluster Lead, Emergency Preparedness and Response Programme posited that, “The workshop focused on teams building within the context the ongoing WHO reforms change management process. The workshop was organized by the WHO/Nigeria change agents network of the WHO African Region implementation of the transformation agenda.”
To him, “it focused on how to build change coalition, manage change and strengthen diverse effective teams.. Among the training tools used were the ‘out of a box’ and the spaghetti-marshmallow tower challenges that helped to reinforce the change management and team building themes of the training.”
The attendees are expected to cascade trainings for other staff members who were not in the initial cohort with the aim of improving performance as well as change in people behaviors and attitude towards work (discipline, efficiency, quality, results-oriented).
Speaking further on the retreat, Dr Rosemary Onyibe, the WHO South West Zonal Coordinator, “The retreat was quite revealing, interesting and at the same time motivating. I believe, it will help me better in human resource management personally and in the course of work. It has widened my prism through which I evaluate people and their actions.”
For Mrs Ikeonu Caroline Obianuju a data Manager at the country office, “The change Management retreat was both enlightening and thought provoking; a unique experience that offered room for networking and interactive hands-on sessions with Management and colleagues, thereby enhancing team bonding and inadvertently encouraging better job output. From the facilitation to the robust content, the retreat provided an educative and strategically engaging platform that was both timely and invaluable.
The general expectations form the retreat was that going forward, WHO Nigeria staff will translate the insights and ideas from this retreat into concrete action plans for cultural change initaitves within the country office and continue to build skills across the organization for more effective change management and collaboration to slign with and achieve the overall WCO’s objectives according to the Third Generation of Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS III).
“We hope that participants now feel more confident, equipped and engaged to produce positive change at their level. The event exceeded expectations as the team was positive and enthusiastic throughout and worked hard to develop solutions to leverage opportunities and face the challenges ahead.”, said Nicole, the lead consultant
Ultimately, just as the WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus was quoted in his address to the Executive Board, January 2018, “Our goal is clear – to make WHO a modern organization that works seamlessly to make a measurable difference in people’s health at country level.”
Dr Kofi Boateng; Email: boatengko [at] who.int; Tel: +234 706 449 1772
Mr Geoffrey Namara; Email: namarag [at] who.int; Tel: +234 703 178 1773