FAO's HR chief: Making unpopular decisions is part of the job

By Elena L. Pasquini 19 May 2015

Denis Aitken, assistant director-general at the Food and Agriculture Organization. Photo by: Giulio Napolitano / FAO

Being able to take criticism is part of any manager’s job, as Denis Aitken, assistant director-general at the Food and Agriculture Organization, knows too well.

In March, Aitken was faced with a four-day strike by FAO’s general service staff, who protested the newly announced policy to cap short-term contract renewability at 55 months, as well as the implementation of a new system for performance evaluation. The mobilization was a reaction to a “lack of real dialogue with management, its autocratic approach and lack of respect for the staff,” according to a post published on the general service staff's Facebook page at the time.

READ: FAO staff, management struggle to reach compromise on reforms

Negotiations between unions and management are ongoing, and several positive steps have already been taken since the staff unrest earlier this spring, according to a Facebook post published by the general service staff’s union. But Atiken’s job is far from finished.

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About the author

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Elena L. Pasquini@elenapasquini

Elena Pasquini covers the development work of the European Union as well as various U.N. food and agricultural agencies for Devex News. Based in Rome, she also reports on Italy's aid reforms and attends the European Development Days and other events across Europe. She has interviewed top international development officials, including European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs. Elena has contributed to Italian and international magazines, newspapers and news portals since 1995.


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