January 2009 From the Editor’s Desk Happy New Year! May 2009 be a year of greater heights for all of us! In this edition we share an experience on the performance review process. Perhaps some of us went through the same or can identify with certain aspects of the experience. Whatever the case may be, may the next review be more pleasant for all of us. The staff changes that were announced last year have taken effect. We hope that those who have assumed new positions and or offices have fitted in and are coping. The Monthly Pointer continues to provide space for profiling and sharing our work amongst ourselves. Seeing that we work in different areas of the country, it also attempts to be a meeting place for, especially those that we might never get the time to meet. You are all encouraged to take advantage of this space so that your contribution to bettering the lives of Uganda’s children can be recognized. As usual The Monthly Pointer is packaged in a very friendly manner that communicates to every reader. So without spending too much time on this editorial I encourage you to read on! Esther Banyenzaki Editor
Let 2009 be a year of visibility
By Thomas Cole, Director of Programmes
Dear Colleagues, 2009 has just begun and already it looks like we have a lot to accomplish in the next 12 months. A good number of us are engaged in developing concepts for new projects or phases, writing reports for recently wrapped-up projects or the Annual Report and, of course, carrying out on-going activities. All this keeps us busy and on our toes. I want to emphasize the need to share progress or challenges we are facing in our different programme implementation activities. A considerable amount is happening out in the field and it is known only by a handful of people. So many exciting things are going on with our partners, the communities, the children. But these things are often not shared even amongst ourselves. We have what it takes to share these happenings. The Monthly Pointer is one such instrument that can go a long way in developing and shaping our programmes. I implore you all, especially field based implementers and technical managers, to make time to write about these activities in our newsletters. We need to be more visible- to feel proud about what we are doing. Let us use our newsletters to our advantage, to profile our work. Let 2009 be a year of visibility. As we plunge ourselves into programme implementation, let us set our priorities right and respond to the need to share and profile what it is that is keeping us so busy. This is the last year of implementing the strategic plan 2007 – 2009 and the beginning of planning for the next 5 years. As we keep the children high on our agenda let our energies be recognized through sharing.
I am tomorrow
I first heard about performance reviews in the Monday morning meeting, I did not give it much attention. Then it was repeated and followed by an e-mail. That is when it started sinking in that this thing was serious. I had never been through one before so I did not have a clue of what would happen. So, like any wise person, I asked colleagues about it. What I gathered was that it could go bad or it could be an opportunity to do things better. Anyway I started getting myself ready for the review. My supervisor had not mentioned a thing to us. We kept asking ourselves who would take the initiative to request for time for the review. Being the newest on the team I gathered courage and sent her an e-mail requesting for time to do the review. Now, I had not read the attachments sent from the HR section so when I got a response from my supervisor to first send the filled performance review form I was in shock. I quickly retrieved the form which I definitely could not fill within one hour. Actually even one day was not enough time for me to fill the form! I played it safe by not replying that e-mail.
the review yet I am the one who had requested for it. Things were tight. The section on the workplan for the next 6 months was a nightmare. I remembered that we had had a discussion some time in September and our supervisor had promised to formulate a workplan for 2009 for our team. I could not trace any e-mail that had that attachment and neither could my colleagues. To make matters worse, none of us was ready to talk to our supervisor. We were just a bunch of cowards. But again unless something practical was done, this performance review was going to be disastrous. My colleagues were better off because, at least they had their workplans. I did not even have that. The time I was requesting for to do the review was the following day. And I had not yet submitted my filled form. Could things get any worse?
…to begin with, I could not find my workplan for the review period…
decided to just face my supervisor and ask her for my workplan, then also ask her for the 2009 plan for the team. Surely I wasn’t the first person to lose a document. I knew I had been doing my work and I had achieved a lot. Maybe I did not hit the target… “It is good you have come. I think I missed your performance review form…” She was actually talking to me. I had been so engrossed in convincing myself that I had performed well that I did not notice that I had entered her office. “No, you haven’t missed it” I said, trying to sound as apologetic as I really was. “I actually haven’t sent it yet. Er…excuse me but … could you please help me with a copy of my workplan…” As told to Esther Banyenzaki
So I started filling in the form. That is when it really dawned on me that this thing could go bad. To begin with, I could not find my workplan for the review period. Somehow I could rightly guess the activities but whether I had delivered on time remained a question. I searched my entire computer but could not find the workplan. All the paperwork on my desk and in my drawers did not include the workplan. A friend advised me to fill in the rest and leave the date specifications. Well that meant not being able to address any gaps. I toiled with the idea of asking my supervisor for my workplan. I knew that she had a copy. But again asking her would show how unprepared I was for
I am tomorrow
Muhindo Libbuma, Project Coordinator, HIV/AIDS (Kasese) takes time off to dance with ALP students
Peter Okaje, Grants Manager (Country Office) receives a pleasant e-mail that funds have been released
James Sebaana, Driver (Kasese): “in hard-to-reach areas, this is nothing”
Betty Opejo and Sarah Nasabu, Office Assistants (Country Office). Indeed we just cannot do without their assistance
I am tomorrow
Esther Alum, Administrative Assistant OD, PDD (Country Office): “Yes, the visitors have confirmed”
Elizabeth Maraka, Finance Assistant (Country Office): happy that her books are balanced
Endre Kristianten, Chief Controller (Country Office). The Budget gurru
(L-R): Moses Alfred Alongu, Driver (Moroto); Dez Byamukama, Food Security/Livelihood Technical Manager (Country Office); Francis Obita, Project Coordinator, Livelihoods (Moroto): the real feel of livelihoods work
I am tomorrow
As you may be aware there are some staff changes that were effected this month. Some have shared their thoughts about these changes. Hopefully, this will encourage others to do the same in our subsequent editions.
It was a fulfillment of an earlier promise that I had made to myself… it was timely and I look at it as an inspiration to my career track. I am enjoying my new job with its challenges... which I feel are opportunities for my future career development. A lot of kuddos to Management for that decision that entirely worked towards my planned aspirations; having worked for four years in hard to reach and hostile, insecure environments like Bundibugyo and Karamoja region respectively. I will live to this change and look forward to achieving more for the children with my technical support to all field offices.
I was initially mostly surprised – but now I look forward to working with the SCiUG teams all over Uganda – to meet upcoming challenges head on (Yes we can…) - in order to reach more children in a better way. Of course, having lived in Gulu for more than a year, a part of my heart will always remain there - with the waraffected children of the north (no more munu, munu – bye! on a daily basis…). And of course: I miss my booo!
The transfers have amused me so much up to this hour. We received individual calls from Esther Alum in Kampala asking us to travel to country office for a meeting with HR. The details of the meeting were not given. While travelling we kept asking ourselves why we had been called. We discovered that managers had a meeting that same day and their meeting was in progress so we had to wait. Not knowing what to expect, we were like people waiting to be interviewed. At some point I think the managers had a short break. It was during the break that we were told that we had been transferred. I was transferred from Kasese as Administrative Assistant to Kampala as Human Resource Assistant 2009. I was just speechless! Thumbs up for the HR team for the confidentiality they showed in the whole exercise. Am grateful to be part of this team
I am tomorrow
With Henry Nono Once there is a power cut, the UPS should continue supplying power to your PC. Usually you will hear a continuous beep when draining power from your UPS battery. This is a warning for you to save your work and properly shutdown your PC. A good UPS should go on for at least 10 minutes. Some powerful batteries will take you for over 30 minutes but please do not take chances. Save all your work as soon as you hear the beep. In case your mouse has the habit of hiding under a pile of documents on your table just press Ctrl S on your key board. Most of us simply do not shut down our PCs when we are done with the day’s work. We just walk away leaving the UPS on till the next morning, subjecting it to destructive power fluctuations from our very own unreliable umeme current. This weakens the battery. UPSs have batteries just like your mobile phones. Imagine what would happen to your mobile phone battery if you left it on charge indefinitely (day and night). It is recommended that when you shut down your PC turn off the UPS as well to avoid battery damage. Turning off your UPS also conserves energy. For those who watch Setanta TV, you know what I mean. Thanks for reading and catch you on the next issue
This column is intended to provide tips on how to use your I.T equipment effectively so that performance levels are optimized and durability is realized. In this first issue, we shall talk about the UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) Whenever there is a power cut most of us face irritating interruptions while making final touches on our very important reports. The computer simply goes off disregarding the fact that you were reading off the screen, in the middle of a sentence or that your fingers kept typing automatically for a second after the screen had gone blank. Changes are lost, thought patterns disrupted, and you have half the mind to turn your screen into a punching bag. As soon as the power switches off, the UPS and computer follow suit. This problem is caused by a weak UPS battery. Our first tip will show you how to make your UPS work better and supply sufficient power to your PC for longer periods so that you get the chance to finish your work and properly shut down your computer.
All recipients of The Monthly Pointer are encouraged to send in articles or photos for sharing with others. Send articles, photos and opinions to email@example.com The Monthly Pointer is issued every last Friday of the month and reflects some of the activities that have taken place, plus inspiring articles from staff of SCiUG that may not necessarily be tagged to activities.
I am tomorrow