The Foreign Service Journal, April 2020

32 APRIL 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Martha Lappin is a USAID personnel psychologist. She previously spent 15 years as a research psychologist for the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, returning to the federal government in 2016 to lead the Foreign Service Performance Manage- ment Redesign Initiative at USAID. She holds a doctorate in industrial/ organizational psychology fromMichigan State University. USAID took the first bold step to modernize its performance management and promotion systems in 2014, asking FSOs to report honestly and in detail what they thought of these processes. BY MARTHA LAPP I N Performance &Promotion Redesigning ForeignService at USAID I n 2014 USAID took the first bold step on a journey to modernize its performance management prac- tices and increase the transparency and fairness of its promotion process. The Office of Human Capital and Talent Management asked Foreign Service officers to tell us honestly, and in great detail, what they really thought of the agency’s performance management and promotion pro- cesses (USAID FSOs number 1,850, compared to FOCUS ON CAREER AND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT 7,905 at State). The results, published in 2015 in “Current State Report: Evaluation of the USAID Foreign Service Performance Management Program,” were not a surprise; they reflected the complaints, frustrations and growing cynicism about processes FSOs had been sharing with each other and their leadership for years. What was new, and also exciting, was the agency’s com- mitment to do something about it. All we knew at the time was that Band-Aids and quick fixes wouldn’t suffice, and that FSOs themselves would have to play a leading role in overhauling an outdated and inefficient system. Here are the changes USAID has implemented to date, as well as some of the lessons learned in the process. Identifying the Problem Federal mandates established by the Foreign Service Act of 1980 provide the foundation for FSO performance management JEFFMOORES