The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

50 MARCH 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL reading a particular book. Not all learning happens in a classroom; accordingly, dedicated learning hours are not limited to classroom coursework. To determine how best to spend learning hours, the new Learning Policy encourages employees to create their own IDP. Working with their supervisor, employees identify and establish learning goals that will help them achieve their mission and professional development goals. Civil Service employees are already familiar with creating an IDP. It is logical to expand this beneficial planning document to Foreign Service personnel, EFMs on FMAs, and limited non-career appointments—including consular fellows and LE staff. The IDP is different than the counseling sessions that are currently part of the Foreign Service performance evaluation and management system. The IDP is designed to take a longer-term look at the employee’s professional aspirations and goals. For some bureaus, asking employees to set aside special time to focus on learning is not a new concept. The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) has been particularly innovative, holding annual Consular Leadership Days since 2001. CA designates an annual theme for these leadership days based on one of the Consular Leadership and Management Tenets. Teams close the consular section to routine appointments for a day and focus on team- and skill-building. Consular sections are expected to hold monthly training and development days so that all staff are working to develop needed skills. CA’s dedication to continuous learning is a model for workforce development. The Learning Policy provides the framework to create lasting change in our workforce. Employees and supervisors alike play an important role in implementing this policy for meaningful results. It will take collaborative commitment to see an institutional shift to a learning culture. As Alexis Ludwig, retired FSO and former director of the Core Skills for Mid-Career Professionals pilot, said: “You have to take the initiative with your own career. It is the responsibility of each of us to think deeply about what we need to do in the coming year to improve.” Given the ever-growing amount of information available, the Learning Policy explicitly promotes greater collaboration between employees and supervisors on identifying learning goals and how to achieve them. Both employees and supervisors can consult not only the FSI catalog but also look at what other industry leaders are reading, watching, and listening to. Staying on top of emerging trends, from China to artificial intelligence (AI), will require engaging more with quickly evolving media, such as expert-written blogs, podcasts, and videos. C ongressional Relations Data Literacy for Managers Fundamentals of Supervision I nternational Negotiation: Art & Skills Leading at State L eading with Influence M anaging Foreign Assistance Awards P resentation Skills S ucceeding at State: Core Skills for Mid-Career Professionals W orking in an Embassy B etter Feedback for Better Writing: A How-to Course for Supervisors and Leaders N avigating the Interagency* R efresher Supervisory Training* S trategic Thinking/Planning* Program and Budget Management* P ublic Communications 101* *Courses are under development/coming soon. two other key components: dedicated learning hours and the expansion of IDPs. Industry experts found that planning and dedicating time to learn are the most important components in building a learning organization, one that remains at the forefront of their industry and continues to attract and retain top talent. Dedicated Learning and the IDP Dedicated learning hours allow employees to take advantage of the myriad ways that people consume information in the modern age—such as taking an online course, watching videos, listening to a podcast, attending a conference, or even Core Curriculum Courses