Tuesday, May 04, 2010

From the Sounding Board: ePerformance

A friend pointed out this comment on the Sounding Board about ePerformance to me yesterday and I think it is brilliant. I got the author's permission to reprint it for you (I have removed the author's name).

"As I read the comments from my colleagues, I confess that I too used to be despondent about ePerformance. Last December, I worked with two PDAS’s for a week to try to enter my interim EER into the system, and finally just gave up because other issues were more pressing. At the time, I assumed that once Management realized the magnitude of the train wreck the Department was going to experience during the regular EER cycle, they would abandon ePerformance and go back to the less crappy form flow filler.

It was with a mixture of surprise and dismay that I witnessed HR stick to its guns. Not only was management going to use ePerformance, but it was actually doubling down its bet by spending money and time on classroom training, training tutorials, FSI Distance Learning Courses, Learning Labs and even ePerformance town hall meetings. Why, I wondered, would anyone is his right mind spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to install a computer program that not only doesn’t save time, but instead sucks up tens of thousands of additional man-hours across the Department? I could understand, perhaps, if it allowed us to hyperlink samples of memos we’d written, or family photos into our EER’s. If ePerformance actually wrote our EER’s, or at least had a hyperbole-checker, maybe it would be worth all this effort. But a software program to simply fill out a form? I simply couldn’t understand how smart people could persist in pushing such a stupid piece of software down our throats.

As my thoughts turned to locating a nice retirement community, I had an epiphany, of sorts, one that has cleared away this negative thinking. As one peels back the ePerformance onion, it’s obvious that it is not just designed to fill out our performance evaluations, but to actually improve our performance. As we all know, in a foreign service career, officers will often have to beat their heads against intractable problems (like Middle East peace), deal with mulish bureaucracies at home and abroad, and show flexibility in working across cultures. Over the years, HR has instituted all sorts of training regimes to help us do just that. I suddenly realized that ePerformance is like that exercise in A-100 where we all stood blindfolded in the woods, holding a rope and shouting at each other. It didn’t make any sense at the time, but we all learned from the experience.

HR has cleverly recreated that learning experience and team building exercise through ePerformance. For example, our team in Embassy London, faced with the ePerformance challenge, figured out a clever work-around, which apparently allows us to ignore most of the software’s features. Another team, stimulated by ePerformance and similar software, has actually formed an eHell working group (I’m not making this up) to try to bring some reason to the system. Both efforts are examples of team-building in the face of adversity – in the finest traditions of the foreign service – and neither would have taken place without ePerformance. Once I understood the real reason we’re using this system, I stopped cursing HR and began to think about how I, too, could use this adversity as a team building exercise for my office.

Unfortunately, the software itself still looks unfathomable, but maybe with enough blindfolds and beer, we’ll be able to conquer it. "

5 comments:

NoDoubleStandards said...

awesome

Consul-At-Arms said...

It is my firm and considered opinion that the reason this atrocity is being foisted upon us is so that someone can claim credit in their own EER for having fielded and implemented ePerformance during their rated year.

That is all.

Consul-At-Arms said...

It is my firm and considered opinion that the reason this atrocity is being foisted upon us is so that someone can claim credit in their own EER for having fielded and implemented ePerformance during their rated year.

That is all.

Digger said...

I am certain you are right!

Dana Murray said...

Dude, I am laughing so hard right now I can't stop. After beating my head against a wall over various other bureaucratic crap, I really needed a good laugh. Bless the person who wrote this and you for reposting it!