Page 52 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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A
n AFSA member recently asked me whether the U.S.
Agency for International Development might reform its performance evalua-
tion process. This person felt that an extraordinary amount of time was wast-
ed preparing employee evaluations instead of carrying out our work.
My familiarity with USAID’s evaluation system goes back to the time when it was
called theEmployeeEvaluationReport, whichultimatelybecame theAnnual Evaluation
Form we have today. Since then, I have seen evaluation forms take many different
shapes, sizes andmedia (paper vs. electronic). Some forms consistedofmainly checked
boxes, while others required a thermometer-style graph. Vast written narratives were
in vogue for a while, only to be replaced by short missives.
It didn’t stop there. The review process has also gone through its own permuta-
tions, with some systems requiring “360 degree” input fromcolleagues or substantive
involvement by theAppraisal Committee. Thiswas followedby theACbeing respon-
siblemerely for checking to see if the rules
had been followed: written recommen-
dations forpromotions, thenprohibitions
against recommending promotion; a
requirement to list areas for improvement,
then no such requirement; etc. You get
my point. Regardless of the evaluation
system in place, it has always taken time
to evaluate anemployee; for some, itmay
require the entiremonthofApril to com-
plete the process.
Personally, I have come tobelieve that
the AEF process is as developed as it can
be, although I believe therewill always be roomfor improvement. I think the real prob-
lem lies in the fact that many employees do not pay attention to instructions. Instead
of developing work objectives and performance measures early in the cycle, the rater
and ratee wait too long and fail to draft solid documents, even though instructions are
readily available.
Manyworkobjectives andperformancemeasures are deficient because they are not:
specific; easilymeasurable, significant or challenging; related tomissionor agency goals;
attributable to the employee’s work; or timely. Performance boards look for all these
elements in the AEF and, above all, concentrate on the “so what?” of the employee’s
work. Any AEF that just repeats the continuing responsibility of the employee will
not lead to that employee being ranked for promotion.
This bringsmeback to theofficerwhowrote tome about improving theAEFprocess.
My answer is that we must continue to look for better ways to streamline the evalua-
tion process. But until we come up with something new, evaluations will be easier to
draft if meaningful and measurable work objectives and performance measurements
have been established and raters meet the established benchmarks, thereby avoiding
the rush to complete evaluations by the deadline.
AEF preparation help is available at
www.afsa.org/usaid un
der Information for
Members.
V.P. VOICE:
USAID
BY FRANCISCO ZAMORA
Reinventing the Annual
Evaluation FormWheel
aration from their family.
Therewas a consensus that the agency
candomore toensure that families arewell
cared for—financially andemotionally—
while officers are serving in CPCs. That
includes access to counseling, information
on support resources, adequate separate
maintenance allowance, keeping families
at current post and ensuring fair assign-
ment procedures. The recently established
USAID Staff Care Unit in Washington,
D.C., can play a big role inmeeting those
needs.
What FSOs Consider Important:
Sixty-three percent of USAID FSOs
value their retirement package (Question
16) abovemany other factors, and 85 per-
cent want AFSA to actively lobby Con-
gress to protect it (Question 17). Close
behind is concern about maintaining
Overseas Comparability Pay. FSOs are
keenly aware of the recent national fed-
eral budget discussions in Congress that
have put at risk federal salaries and retire-
ment benefits. We have expanded our
legislative outreach staff and increased
funding for efforts to protect FS benefits.
AFSA has redoubled its efforts to coor-
dinate with other federal unions to
counter such threats.
LaborManagement Issues:
Question
18 elicited the strongest response, with 83
percent of USAID FSOs expressing con-
cernover discrepancies inbenefits between
State and USAID, including: access to
spousal language training at the Foreign
Service Institute; lowerWashington, D.C.,
52
F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L / A P R I L 2 0 1 2
A
F
S
A
N
E
W
S
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA USAID VP.
Survey • Continued from page 49
Any AEF that just repeats
the continuing responsibility
of the employee will not
be ranked for promotion.
Continued on page 55
FSOs are keenly aware of the
recent national federal budget
discussions in Congress that have
put at risk federal salaries and
retirement benefits. We have
expanded our legislative outreach
staff and increased funding for
efforts to protect FS benefits.