Page 48 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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which they want to share. Younger employees should recognize
this and seek to tap into the knowledge and tradecraft of the
older generation. Whether or not they apply such tips, making
the efort can facilitate intergenerational collaboration.
Desire to be emulated.
While not all “old school” habits
make sense, some do. Newer ofcers should use common sense
and tact when eliciting insights into why some seemingly archaic
styles or procedures are still relevant in 2012.
As they say in Vegas, what goes on in the embassy
has to stay in the embassy. An embassy or consulate is just too
small a pond to engage in public square gossip via social media
platforms. Airing internal issues, whether professional or per-
sonal, is a fast way to gain a reputation for loose lips. Self-cen-
sorship and good judgment can maintain peace in the Foreign
Service family.
The Value of Mentors
Strengthening mentoring programs can go far to bridge the
generational gap. Mentors articulate the unwritten rules of the
Foreign Service to the newer employees—rules that reorient
younger employees’ expectations. In return, newer employees
ofer their mentors valuable perspectives on the views and atti-
tudes of the newest members of the work force, in the context of
a non-supervisory relationship.
True, mentor match-ups sometimes don’t work out; but
having a department ofce vigorously track mentorship pairs
could help identify more appropriate partners. Such an ofce
could also encourage mentoring in the fragile frst months of an
assignment, and explore ways to devise better pairings (perhaps
through common geographic and topical interests).
Deputy chiefs of mission and principal ofcers should also
look for ways to retool existing programs for mentoring unten-
ured employees to make themmore efective. In addition,
promotion precepts could underscore active mentoring
as a key leadership trait.
Tapping Other Generations’ Strengths
Te Foreign Service has adapted well over the decades,
refecting changing work-force needs and wants. (Many of us
recall a former Deputy Secretary of State’s legendary “wire-
brushing” of a bitter Senior FSO who had nothing good to say to
a whole A-100 class during orientation.)
For new entrants, the Foreign Service Institute should
redouble eforts to teach generational awareness, starting with
the A-100 curriculum. (FSI has consistently done a good job of
educating the Foreign Service on personality diferences and