Below is a piece by Zed Tarar, a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service currently serving in London. This was published on Medium with the following Disclaimer: “Zed Tarar is a career U.S. diplomat. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of his employer or the U.S. government.”
Excerpt below from Analysis | A third of U.S. diplomats are eyeing the exits:
….While the headaches of finding fulfilling postings with progressively greater responsibility are well understood and documented, the knock-on effects are less discussed. When employees feel that rewards are unlinked to performance and recognition processes lack fairness and transparency, they leave, according to research. Here again the Viewpoint Survey paints a striking picture, stretching back to at least 2010 and remaining consistent: only two in five State employees believe promotions are based on merit. Such a staggering loss of confidence in the most basic talent management principle should give senior leaders pause. Yet, the diplomatic service maintains the same promotion and assignment system designed in the early 1980s, save for a few cosmetic changes and a move to managing paperwork on the cloud. Career diplomats will be quick to clarify that the issue is fairness and transparency. Knowing a better-suited colleague is headed to the job you wanted in Senegal is welcome; what “crushes morale” is the apparent randomness of postings and seeing poor performers given increasing responsibility and high-profile assignments.
If the 2,800 survey respondents in the retention study are to be believed, we may finally have a measurable negative consequence. Should up to a third of serving diplomats leave public service in the next few years, it may finally spur senior leadership within State to implement the organizational reforms needed. As it stands, the study’s findings seems to be attracting little attention from the top echelons of the department: a recent piece in Politico notes, “a senior State Department official responded that frustrations about promotions notwithstanding, only about 3 percent of these officials actually end up leaving the department annually.” In other words: how bad can it really be if people are choosing to stay?
Read more below:
Organizational change isn't easy, but it's impossible to ignore in an increasingly interconnected 21st century. And yet the very nature of bureaucracy is to cement the status quo, however untenable.
— Zed Tarar (@zedtarar) July 30, 2021