Managing JPOs

Best practices

Purpose: To reconcile expectations between the JPO and the unit/office where the JPO will be working.

During the next years you will be working closely together, and as a start to your professional relationship, we would like to share with you a few best practices on how to get the most out of the experience as a JPO and as a duty station receiving a JPO.

Professional Status of the JPOs

Under the supervision of a more senior staff member, JPOs work as international staff and are involved in the identification, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the programmes supported by UN organizations. Therefore, even though "Junior" in the organisation, JPOs are not interns nor free alternative labour staff. 

This said, it is also critical that JPOs receive well-structured supervision, coaching and training organized or provided by their immediate supervisors from the time of arrival, in order to ensure their full and timely integration, operational effectiveness as well as learning.

Keep Terms of Reference updated

A JPO is recruited against specific Terms of Reference (ToR)/Job Description. However, as the UN works in dynamic environments with changing priorities over time, there is a need for flexibility and the JPO's ToR might therefore change during the assignment.

JPOs should be ready to discuss and accept modifications in ToRs if such adjustments are within their range of qualifications.

ToRs should be kept up-to-date and reflect the actual work focus and needs of the unit and/or office. In case of major adjustments please send a copy of the revised ToR to the JPO Service Centre.

Utilize the skills, motivation and energy of a JPO: JPOs are highly qualified and motivated young professionals and usually holders of at least one master's degree in a development-related subject. The highest gains of the JPO Programme are achieved when the skills and competencies of the JPO are utilized to their fullest.

Most JPOs have Programme Officer or Programme Analyst as their title which refers to the type of tasks they perform. In this respect it is important to underline that JPOs are qualified to perform functions comparable to those of national and international programme officers. In addition to programme management duties, an increasing number of JPOs are designated as focal points for UNDP practice areas.

Supervise and guide a JPO

-JPO Annelie Rostedt. Photo: UNDP

In order to enable the JPO to make a substantive contribution to the work at the duty station, the JPO should receive supervision, guidance and coaching by his/her immediate supervisor from the very beginning of the assignment.

In addition to this some duty stations have also had great success with an informal fellow programme, where JPOs "pair up" with an experienced colleague for practical support and assistance.

Document goals in the PMD, JPOs are subject to performance assessment by UNDP’s Performance Management & Development (PMD) within the same timetable (from 1 Feb. to 31 Jan.) as all UNDP staff members. The PMD includes performance planning, monitoring, and evaluation.

If the JPO arrives in the middle of the PMD period we would still recommend that a PMD is completed and discussed. The shorter evaluation period should then be taken into consideration when establishing and evaluating goals.

Ensure that learning is part of the job

Since JPOs are young professionals with maximum three-four years of working experience, learning is an important part of their assignment.

Therefore JPOs have a duty-related partner country-funded travel and training allowance (DTTA) making it possible for them to participate in relevant seminars, workshops, courses, work-shadowing, etc. Priorities for use of the allowance are to be discussed and agreed with supervisors.

For most JPOs this assignment is the first contact with the UN system and a general introduction briefing by the country office/duty station will enable the JPO to contribute to the priorities of the office.

Such a briefing should include the office set-up, working structures, country programme and thematic priorities as well as the nature of partner and government cooperation in the country, including the national implementation structure, etc.

Use of the Duty-related Travel and Training Allowance (DTTA)

The duty-related travel and training allowance (DTTA) is provided by the sponsoring Government for work-related activities, such as participation in seminars, workshops, round-table discussions at national, regional, sub-regional and/or international level, etc.

The DTTA is an allocation made by JPO-sponsoring countries on an annual basis and is available only during the donor-funded period of the JPO assignment. The amount of the allocation per annum is partner country-specific and subject to change.

The DTTA is normally not used to cover the expenses of a) university courses or degrees, b) PPO Course (programme policy and operations induction course), c) language courses, d) IT courses, e) field trips to project sites. If in doubt, please consult with the relevant Human Resources Associate at the JPO Service Centre for more details.

Only those accounting entries, which have been communicated by the JPO Service Centre, would be accepted as valid charges to the respective JPOs' DTTA budget. Management of the DTTA account is decentralized to the country offices, including the monitoring of the amount available. It is incumbent, however, on the senior management of the country office to ensure that only those training/ learning activities, which are relevant to the JPO assignment, are authorized.