Page 28 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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28
OCTOBER 2012
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
G
en Y FSOs (born from the mid- to late-1980s
through the early 1990s) have a strong focus on
technology. They are more at ease using e-mail
as a medium of communication than State
cables. This has caused information gaps as these ofcers
do not realize how many diferent parts of the U.S. govern-
ment still rely on cable trafc for coverage of fast-moving
events.
Moreover, most e-mail messages sent over the depart-
ment’s system are not saved for historical records. The
Ofce of the Historian will be hard-pressed to document
how specifc policy decisions were actually made due to
these gaps in cable trafc.
Gen Yers have a strong focus on quality of life: both
their own and that of their spouse and children. They also
have high expectations as to the quality of education
available at post and are more resistant to sending their
children to live and study at boarding schools. State has
had to invest in the establishment of new schools at many
hardship posts in order to attract a sufcient pool of bid-
ders on these jobs.
Spousal employment is a major consideration for Gen Y
bidders. They have been vocal in their complaints about the
quality of jobs available to their highly educated spouses
and partners during tours of duty overseas. Their focus on
quality of life has resulted in pressure on the department to
extend Internet service to U.S. government residences at
hardship posts.
Gen Yers want to be treated as equals by their supervi-
sors, even when they have far less experience in the sub-
ject matter. They expect much more one-on-one interac-
tion with their supervisors and with embassy leadership.
They do not hesitate to express dissent, both inside the
embassy and also on social media.
Senior ofcers, mostly baby boomers, need to adjust
the quantity and format of interactions with Gen Y ofcers
to meet their needs and help them understand appropriate
boundaries when placing material on social media sites.
Failure to do so creates negative morale at embassies and
can lead to curtailments and lower productivity.
The Next Cohort
Gen Z individuals (born from the early 1990s on) are
only just starting to enter the work force or serving as
interns at the department. Gen Zers have a strong focus on
the Internet but, unlike Gen Xers, they use text messages or
instant messaging more than e-mail. For a baby boomer or
a Gen Xer, “snail mail”means letter mail handled by the U.S.
Postal Service. For a Gen Zer, “snail mail” refers to e-mail.
One implication of this is that their ability to draft
lengthier e-mails or cables may be constrained by their
lack of experience in the art of drafting. Some will also
need to learn to distinguish between information related to
their work that is suitable for posting on social media sites,
and that which must be protected to safeguard national
security. Frequently, Gen Zers lack a long-term strategy for
managing their professional image on social media sites.
Members of Gen Z have learned to operate in a highly
sophisticated media world; but as a norm, they seem less
able to digest information from various sources and to
produce their own unique views.
Gen Zers have no memories of a time when diversity was
not the norm. This should make them much more open to
practicing equal employment opportunity at work and in
their personal lives.
Finally, Gen Zers have worked, and some are still work-
ing, their way through college in a time of economic reces-
sion. Most of them will be burdened by student debt and
worried about their personal fnancial security. This will
likely mean that they will need to see a strong student loan
repayment program as part of recruitment to the State,
Department. It also means that once they join State they
may be more likely to stay on its payroll for an extended
time frame than their Gen Y colleagues.
FOCUS
THE NEW FS GENERATION
Ambassador Eileen Malloy retired from the Foreign Service in 2008
after a 30-year career and continues to work as an inspection team
leader for the Ofce of the Inspector General. In this capacity, she
has visited numerous posts and has enjoyed meeting hundreds of
new hires serving around the world.
Te views expressed in this article are hers alone and do not
represent the views or conclusions of the OIG.
Gen Y, and On to Z
BY E I L EEN MAL LOY