The Joint Agriculture Secretariat (JAS) team engages in a field work team building activity. Photo credit: Africa Lead / Victor Oloo
The Joint Agriculture Secretariat (JAS) is the operational secretariat that supports the Joint Agriculture Sector Consultation and Cooperation Mechanism (JASCCOM), the organ that facilitates sector coordination by following up on resolutions made by the Sector Intergovernmental Forum (IGF) in Kenya. Africa Lead facilitated a four-day team building workshop for the JAS from 14-17 May 2018 in Sagana, Kenya. The purpose of the workshop was for the JAS team to bond and motivate them to undertake collective action. Fifteen members of JAS and Africa Lead staff attended the four day retreat.
Improved coordination of actors in the Kenya agriculture sector policy has been recognized as critical to implementing the new sector strategy. Better coordination is necessary given the devolution of agriculture functions and separation of roles at the national and county government level. Africa Lead co-designed the retreat with JAS staff with the objectives of enhanced skills and participatory action planning for improved team relations for the effective delivery of the JAS mandate.
Additionally, JAS staff are deployed from different national and county government departments. Though only a few staff members have worked on the same team before, JAS colleagues have to work together despite being deployed and answerable to different institutions.
The main thematic topics covered during the workshop included the following: organizational health, re-visiting the JAS mandate, leadership for performance, strategic communication, gender at the workplace, and action-planning to improve team work. “For the first time in the two years of JAS existence, the staff showed professionalism, diligence and serious commitment to build and maintain personal and institutional team spirit and collaboration for positive change,” said a JAS member at the end of the workshop.
Overall, the workshop enabled JAS to self-reflect on organizational wellness and health and address three main priority challenges: lack of adherence to the agreed work plan, lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities, and gaps in JAS capacity to deliver on its mandate. At the end of the workshop, the JAS team set action plans to improve communication and enhance performance in line with its mandate as a secretary and implement approaches for team work.
Participants also developed individual and organizational work plans to be implemented once they return to the office. Feedback from the meeting shows an improved sense of communication, dialogue, clear and open discussion, and clarity of roles among the JAS team.