The Foreign Service Journal, April 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2020 27 A pril is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote. For Foreign Service person- nel who dread employee evaluation season, that poem fragment may have special relevance. In any orga- nization, performance appraisals are a difficult subject; neither asses- sors nor employees relish them for obvious reasons. No matter how Alex Karagiannis retired from the Foreign Service in November 2017 with the rank of Minister Counselor. His last assignment was as senior adviser to the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources. The 2015 EER reforms are the building blocks from which State intends to establish a fully modernized performance management system. BY AL EX KARAG I ANN I S FOCUS ON CAREER AND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT AWork in Progress EvaluationReformat State well done, an evaluation touches not just on performance but also on the person’s sense of self and identity. For the Foreign Service, with its up-or-out system, employee evaluation reports (EERs) are invariably sensitive. Raters, reviewers and employees all feel pressure. Little wonder that reactions are often defensive and emotionally charged, even when reviews are done well; when done poorly, anxiety levels shoot up. Over the past decade, considerable work in the private sec- tor by industrial psychologists and human capital experts has produced a revolution in designing performance appraisals that better meet both organizational and employee needs to fuel performance and engagement and also build future leadership capacity. Major firms such as Google, General Electric, Micro- soft, Accenture, Cisco and others have revamped their systems to better identify and reward those who merit recognition and/or JEFFMOORES