The Foreign Service Journal - April 2017
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As all American taxpay-

ers know, April 15 is rapidly

approaching. In addition to

being an important date for

the IRS, it is also an impor-

tant date for Foreign Service

employees—it’s the first date

on which you may submit

nominations under the new

Meritorious Service Increase

award program. (Nomina-

tions will be accepted until

June 15.)

The most important thing

for you to know, understand

and embrace is that anyone

can nominate a colleague—

you do not have to be the

nominee’s supervisor. The

nomination form is stream-

lined and easy to complete,

taking much less time than a

full evaluation form.

Unlike an evaluation, the

MSI nomination focuses only

on recent performance and/

or service. There is no need

to demonstrate ability to

perform at a higher level than

the current grade, and there

is no need to tie the nomina-

tion to the employee’s work


Unlike other award nomi-

nations, MSI nominations

do not have to go through

the Post Awards Committee

before being sent to Wash-

ington, D.C. Instead, they will

be submitted directly to the

relevant bureau’s MSI Awards


The lengthy “open sea-

son” for MSI nominations

was designed to make it easy

and convenient for people

to draft and submit nomina-

Open Season for NewMSI Award Program



Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA State VP.


| (202) 647-8160

tions. Some people prefer to

think about and draft award

nominations during evalu-

ation season so that they

can copy and paste relevant

language; others prefer to

do it later, once they’ve had

a chance to recover from all

the evaluation drafting.

Whatever your preference,

the new nomination season

makes it easy to participate

and help recognize and

reward exceptional perfor-

mance and/or service.

I’ve heard a few colleagues

grumbling about what they

perceive as the added burden

of “having” to nominate col-

leagues for MSIs. If you’re

in that camp, I encourage

you to try to reframe your

thinking; look at it more as

something you “get” to do.

I’m not saying that to

sound cheesy, but because I

genuinely believe it. Annual

evaluations are some-

thing you “have” to do, and

(although extremely impor-

tant) they can be unpleasant.

You’re required to write one

for every single individual you

supervise; you’re required

to list an area which needs

development; and, in the

case of suboptimal perfor-

mance, you’re required to

document how and why

the employee underper-

formed. You’re required to

do all of this year after year,

even when the employee in

question is not eligible for


In contrast, awards nomi-

nations (whether for MSIs,

Superior Honor Awards,

departmentwide awards,

AFSA awards or other

awards) practically write

themselves. If you have an

employee or a colleague who

has gone above and beyond

and whose performance

or service has been truly

exceptional, it can actually

be fun and rewarding to help

recognize and reward that

person by writing an awards


You don’t have to worry

about making sure you

cover a specific checklist of

areas, you don’t have to say

anything negative, and you

don’t even have to spend

that much time writing—you

simply describe why that

employee’s performance

and/or service was so excep-

tional and why they should

be rewarded.

A few well-written para-

graphs that describe the

true impact of both substan-

tive accomplishments and

meaningful service are all

you need.

If you need a refresher

on the details of the new

program, check out

16 STATE 129334 (dated December 5, 2016) as well as the Human


Evaluation website. If you’re

new to drafting awards nomi-

nations or feel like you’re not

a strong writer, fear not!—

HR/PE has resources to

help you understand what a

strong, well-written nomina-

tion looks like.

Reach out to colleagues

known for their drafting

skills, and ask them to review

your nomination before you

submit it. Even better, reach

out to a friend or colleague

known for making sure his or

her employees receive appro-

priate awards, and ask that

individual to help you craft a

strong nomination.

If you can tell the story of

why an employee should be

rewarded, then someone out

there can help you put that

story into a compelling writ-

ten version without having

to spend a great deal of time

on it.

So go forth and nomi-

nate—the success of the new

MSI program depends on




APRIL 2017



The most important thing for you to know,

understand and embrace is that anyone

can nominate a colleague—you do not

have to be the nominee’s supervisor.