15 APRIL 2010


We were told there were very serious discussions at very senior levels of the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) to create two new mascots to inspire the staff. One is a blue cat named -- what else? "Bluey," and the other is a talking tree called "Olivia."

Everyone agrees that staff morale is at its lowest. Part of the problem is obviously the dispersal of colleagues who used to work and connect for decades within the same building. Displacement is always irritating. Uncertainty breeds nervous apprehension. The role of OHRM leadership during this sensitive period has been clearly incompetent. No sense of understanding; no serious effort to connect with staff; no display of responsibility.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is not well-served by an office that is toying with gimmicks rather than focus on handling of the most difficult personnel situation in U.N. history. The Secretary General is the leader of the staff. He certainly has a leadership role play. But with the best of intentions he cannot do it without effective, understanding, and professional support by the office directly concerned.

Staff morale will certainly not be soothed by "Bluey" the Cat talking to "Olivia" the tree -- unless, of course, Tickle Me Elmo is designated as the new Under Secretary-General for Reform.