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On Oct. 12, AFSA invited Dr.

Beth Fisher-Yoshida to lead a

discussion about 360-degree

feedback in the Foreign

Service context as part of the

association’s effort to identify

examples of industry best

practices and bring them into

Foreign Service processes.

Dr. Fisher-Yoshida is a

faculty member and direc-

tor of the Negotiation and

Conflict Resolution Program

at Columbia University.

“There is nothing like the

360 process for professional

development,” AFSA Presi-

dent Ambassador Barbara

Stephenson said in welcom-

ing participants to the event.

But she questioned whether

360-degree feedback is as

useful when it is part of the

bidding process.

Amb. Stephenson also

noted that during a series of

“structured conversations”

she has been conducting

with AFSA members, bidding

has consistently been among

the top concerns for all levels

of FSOs.

Beginning the session, Dr.

Fisher-Yoshida reviewed the

uses of 360-degree feedback

in the Foreign Service (e.g.,

professional development,

bidding and promotions)

noting that 360 degree feed-

back is appropriately used

for professional develpment

and leadership training.

She also discussed how

360-degree feedback data is

collected, how it is used for

different processes within

the Foreign Service, who

can see the data and, more

importantly, who owns it.

Following the presenta-

tion, attendees formed

discussion groups to con-

sider the challenges of the

current system and what

could be done to improve the

experience with 360-degree

feedback. Each group con-

sisted of entry- and mid-level

members of the Foreign

Service, as well as AFSA staff


State Vice President

Angie Bryan and FCS Vice

President Steve

Morrison also

attended the

session, and



Sharon Wayne

joined one of

the discussion

groups to pro-

vide the USAID


Most par-

ticipants agreed

that, while


feedback can be

a very useful tool

for professional


there should be

a better system

for the bidding

and assignments


When consid-

ering 360-degree

feedback in terms of bidding

and assignments, a number of

issues were raised, including

a lack of transparency within

the system; potential bias

of raters for or against the

candidate; appropriate train-

ing for the person reviewing

the feedback and excessive

subjectivity of the questions


The discussion was lively

and benefited greatly from

the differing perspectives

of all participants. For a

recording of the event, visit


—Gemma Dvorak,

Associate Editor

360-Degree Feedback in the Foreign Service


From left: State Representative Jason Donovan, State Vice President Angie Bryan, Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida, AFSA President

Ambassador Barbara Stephenson and FCS Vice President Steve Morrison at the 360 Feedback event at AFSA headquarters.