Enhancing AfDB’s Operational Delivery by Improving Workplace Conflict Resolution Capacity

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Over the past years, the Bank Group has made efforts and provided means with a view to internally and externally engaging in outreach services and sensitizing Bank staff on the importance of using the services of the Ombudsman.

The recent 2009 Annual Report issued to all staff by the Office on “Building a Conflict Competency Workplace at the Bank” outlines key areas of the office’s main activities in 2009. These areas are necessary for the overall understanding of the Bank’s work and to also stress the role that the Ombudsman’s office will continue to play to create increased group cohesion in the institution.

Conscious of this, the AfDB management has empowered the Ombudsman’s office, whose role is seen as critical in terms of the social development of Bank staff to closely work with the institution’s Ethics Office, the Staff Council, the Corporate Services Vice-presidency and the Human Resources Department to manage conflicts and promote a civil and respectful workplace for all given that staff constitute the AfDB’s precious asset.

During the period under review, the office has dealt with a great number of cases submitted to it at staff initiative. For the past year, the Bank has grown tremendously in terms of sub-generation groups, sometimes leading to frictions in the institution.

For the Bank’s Ombudsperson, Amabel Orraca-Ndiaye, 2009 has been a successful year, given the institution’s current context of growth in diversity. She commended Bank staff who have understood the need to come over to her office to share views with her collaborators. This has enabled the office to explore ways and options to deal with their concerns. It has also enabled the office to provide feedback to senior management and to find timely preventive measures to deal with escalating conflicts, minimizing therefore the cost of conflicts to the Bank. “When staff take the pain to visit us, it is a sign of confidence in the informal recourse system and that has really helped us to prevent a number of conflicts,” Mrs. Ndiaye said.

The Ombudsman’s job is directly linked with staff motivation and productivity. Talking about the need for staff motivation to ensure operational delivery within the context of the Bank’s general capital increase, she recalled new challenges ahead, as well as the appeal by Bank Group President, Donald Kaberuka, to staff to work fairly and firmly with mutual respect in order to meet deadlines. “Use the services of the OMBU and also share positive things happening in the Bank to encourage and motivate ourselves … We are also interested in knowing what is going on right in the Bank, not always what is going wrong,” she stressed.

The Ombudsman’s office was created in 1992 with the objective of helping Bank staff cope with issues arising from the 1987-1988 major reorganization of the Bank’s structures, including a positive culture, commitment to ethical behavior, and shareholders’ demands for better governance. Since the creation of this office,it was manned by Messrs. Deusdedit Bishota, Alfred Smith, James Nabina - the first woman Ombudsman - and Mrs. Amabel Orraca-Ndiaye. Ombudsmen are people with long service experience who master staff issues at all levels. In 2009, for example, the office handled 100 cases Bank-wide from a total number of 105 visitors. During the period under review, the office has evolved more than ever before, consolidating and building on established initiatives and activities.

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