Quality of the humanitarian response



People Management in Humanitarian Action is not an accessory skillset, but an elementary factor of success

André-PicotAndré PICOT has been alternating between operations and training at ICRC for the past 30 years. He is one of the seasoned coordinators of this CERAH course and will help us understand the key advantages of the Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) People Management in Humanitarian Settings


André, why is CERAH offering a certificate (CAS) on People Management?

A. Picot: If you ask experienced humanitarian workers to comment on their “best” and “worst” missions, 8 out of 10 will mention “their excellent head of delegation”, “the fabulous teamwork” or their “manager’s leadership”.
At CERAH we acknowledge that People Management has a tremendous impact not only on staff morale but also on the overall quality of the humanitarian response. It is not an accessory skillset but an elementary factor of success and this is why we consider People Management as one of our key courses.


There are hundreds of courses on people management and leadership out there,
why adding a specific one for humanitarian settings?

A. Picot: CERAH’s educational offer on People Management is need-based and was initially developed following a request of MSF. Since then these courses have seen participants from various organizations and different professional backgrounds who learn about tools and methods for effective team management strategies in a humanitarian context.
In addition, people management in a humanitarian context can be a question of life or death either for your staff or the beneficiaries you are supposed to assist, so there is a specificity of the humanitarian sector we want and need to address


More concretely, which elements of the programme will make a difference for a humanitarian worker
compared to any other management training?

A. Picot: The entire course is organized in six thematics with People Management as the leitmotiv. From week 1 to 6
a case study with a fictional NGO in a real-world context will be built into the programme and serves to present and test concepts.

Let me present the different thematics and link them to humanitarian action.
By the way, students can decide to follow either the whole certificate or only certain weeks
depending on their topics of interest (Thematic Short Courses TSC highlighted with a *).

Week 1 Organizational structures and dynamics: impact on Human Resources and People Management

We will analyse and link the organizational structure to different contexts: workforce (international or local staff, volunteers)
and its impact on the organization; the influence of bottom-up and top-down decision taking on the organizational structure;
the role of experts and generalist; etc.

Week 2 Team Management in Humanitarian Settings (link to TSC*)

From institutional issues we move to team issues. How to build a conducive environment especially with very diverse teams?
We will focus on participative decision building techniques, a self-test on conflict resolution, different ways of learning
and how to implement them in a humanitarian setting.

Week 3 Management, Leadership, Coaching (link to TSC*)

After having looked at institutional and team issues we move to the role of the manager.
During this week we study several postures of the manager and analyse in detail different coaching attitudes and
their impact on staff.

Week 4 Crisis Management (link toTSC*)

We will test and implement what we have learned so far in three different types of crisis: epidemics, abduction, natural disaster.
From a managerial point of view (not operational), what can be done before, during and after the crisis?
We will explore moral and legal obligations as well as stress management.

Week 5 Resilience and chronicity

Paradoxically it can be easier to lead a team through an acute humanitarian crisis than through a situation of chronicity.
By chronicity we mean situations when either the crisis has become chronical
or staff keeps doing the same activities starts losing their motivation. How to cope individually and as a team?

Week 6 Remote management

More and more often the management loses physical access to the team and alternative ways have to be put in place to continue to run the operations.
How can we maintain feedback mechanisms, take decisions and maintain a conducive environment over distance?
To make the programme and its case study more real, the entire week is run as distance learning course.

Week 7 Individual assignment

At the end of the Certificate of Advanced Studies our students submit a personal paper related to the studied topics.
This paper is written remotely at distance.

 CAS People Management - week after week


André, what would you recommend interested students to do?

A. Picot: We do have a lot of information on our Website www.cerahgeneva.ch.

However I believe that personal contact is often more appropriate. I would recommend people who are interested in the topic to
reach out to either our course administrators, who know our programmes by heart, or directly to me.
And as course coordinator I will be happy to respond to any questions by phone or Skype.

Mail to cerahgeneve@unige.ch or call us at +41 (0)22 908 44 53