The Foreign Service Journal, April 2020

24 APRIL 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL andThose of Our People T he goal of any human resources team is twofold: to support employees and to strengthen the institution they serve. It seems simple enough. Just two things. But when they have to be done simultaneously, the balance can be difficult to strike. Lean too far on either side, and you risk undermining the institution or eroding the morale of the people who make it work. This can be particularly challenging for the Department of State’s Bureau of Global Talent Management, formerly known as the Bureau of Human Resources. GTM supports nearly 14,000 Foreign Service specialists and generalists, as well as the depart- ment’s more than 10,000 Civil Service employees, eligible family members and more than 50,000 locally employed staff. The bureau plays a role in every step of a Foreign Service employee’s career—from their entrance exam to their retirement out-brief- ing, and is involved in all of the relocations, trainings, bidding and assignments, and promotions in between. Philip W. Kaplan joined the Foreign Service in 1994. He has served in Santo Domingo, Panama, Ankara, Vienna and Lima, as well as in Washington, D.C., where he is currently acting director for gen- eralists in the State Department Bureau of Global Talent Manage- ment’s Office of Career Development and Assignments. The newly named Bureau of Global Talent Management is taking steps to better recruit, retain and empower a high-performing, diverse 21st-century workforce. BY PH I L I P W. KAPLAN FOCUS ON CAREER AND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT TheNewHR Each year, roughly 37 percent of the Foreign Service relo- cates. Representing the United States overseas is an exciting and rewarding vocation, but not always an easy one. The bureau took on a number of significant reforms in 2019 to provide greater support and enhanced flexibility for employees. These changes, in turn, contribute to the bureau’s broader mission to recruit, retain and empower a high-performing, diverse 21st-century workforce equipped to advance U.S. foreign policy goals. Fair Share: Eliminating an Ineffective Policy Last July, Director General Carol Z. Perez announced the elimination of the Fair Share bidding requirements, start- ing with the Summer 2020 assignments cycle. Fair Share was originally designed to ensure equitable burden sharing of service at high-differential posts (the posts with the highest levels of hardship and/or danger), but an analysis of bidding and assignments data revealed that the policy was slowing the assignments process without achieving its desired outcome. The policy required that employees bid on high-differential posts, but not actually serve in them. In practice, departmentwide surveys from 2017 and 2018 on service at high-threat posts revealed, most employees were motivated to bid based on financial incentives, career progres- sion and the desire to serve our nation in the toughest places, not because of the Fair Share policy. Of all high-differential positions on the 2018 assignment cycle, only 5 percent of pan- Needs of the Service