Posted: 11:15 am PDT
Updated: July 8, 5:28 pm PDT
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Every spring, our Foreign Service folks get a stressful season added to their lives. It’s called the EER Season. It’s when most people in the Foreign Service must do their Employee Evaluation Review, their annual report cards. It’s like doing your own tax return. It’s painful. People hate doing it. But it must be done, and done well, if folks want that promotion.
One FSO once quipped about the wisdom of “scheduling EER due dates at the same time as your tax returns; at least you’re combining as much pain and suffering into as short a time as possible.” Another describes it as “a period of several weeks during which the entire service withdraws to semi-hibernation in their offices to produce and push around the mountain of paper that is the annual Employee Evaluation Review.” The Daily Demarche calls it the Creative Writing Season at the State Department, writing, “It is only with slight exaggeration [they] I say some reports use phrases like “when Dick is not walking on water he is busy turning it into wine.”
There are tips and tricks online on EER preparation, see this and this, both written by FS-bloggers, who by the way, are no longer blogging. Also read this old post from Life After Jerusalem, it’ll crack you up.
An old adage is repeated in the Foreign Service Journal: “The EER system doesn’t work, so all we can do is gossip to keep bad people from getting good jobs.”
We’ve heard it said often enough that the EER gets you the promotion, but your corridor reputation gets you your next job. Is that still true?
In a perfect world, the performance evaluation report should be the most useful tool in getting an individual, as they say, on the right bus. But that’s not the case in the Foreign Service. The Foreign Service where the entrance requirement is proudly based on merit, actually bases its assignment process on who you know, and what’s often called “corridor reputation,” instead of ability and talent.
So it was only a matter of time… and bang! This happened.
We received the following note:
As I have worked as an FSO for the better part of a decade, I have experienced a lot of different types of employees. Like many others, I have often wondered how certain people got promoted and why certain others did not. I have pondered the ridiculousness of the current EER system and its unnatural obsession with style over substance. How many times do I really need to roll it back to step 4 to make a comma edit and should that really sink my chance at a promotion? I have wished that I would have known going in that my new boss would be horrible, and I have wished I could tell the world by boss was awesome.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that Department needs a place to discuss the performance of people. It has to be outside official channels and done in a way so others feel like they can comment without reprisal. After this realization, a long period of denial, and more than a few sleepless nights, the site http://www.corridorrep.com was born. It is limited only to people with a state.gov email address and does not pretend to be any type of official or statistically valid tool. It is just a forum for openly discussing the performance of others. The hope is that by providing visible access to one’s corridor reputation, the good performers get publically recognized and the not so good ones know where they can improve. Is this risky? Yes. Will people be offended? Probably. Will I get sued? Maybe. Is it needed? I think so.
Regular folks who get frustrated long enough with the process long acknowledged to be broken will occasionally roll the dice.
The site’s stated goal is to rate 5,000 employees. It has 26 ratings right now. We are unable to read the full reports but one of those “Recently Liked” under “Poor Performer” starts with “It was the longest tour of my life…” Another one under “Officer Bob” starts with “It was a dark and stormy…”
In order to use the site, users “must provide” their state.gov email address. “This is only used to ensure that Department employees can access the site. Your confirmation email will be sent to this address and once you confirm your account none of your activity will be traceable to it.” The site says that registration is limited to U.S. Department of State employees at this time, but may be extended to include other agencies as determined by the site administrator.
Note: Thanks for all your tips. Since the owner of the LLC who operates this new site has not self-identify as site administrator of CorridorRep.com, we will not identify that individual in this blog at this time. We have reached out to the site administrator and will update when we hear more.