Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Springtime Allergies

Spring is starts warming up (I hate hate hate cold Estonia, but really winter sucks), birds start singing, flowers start blooming. And since I don't really suffer from allergies, there is just no downside to spring.


Two things are bad about spring.

Taxes, which I wrote about yesterday.

And this.


For those not in the State Department, this means Employee Evaluation Report. It covers the period from April 16-April 15 and is due May 15. It is the time when you write about how you single handedly saved the world and your supervisor says that you are the most awesome officer ever (except for every other officer who is also the most awesome officer ever). Everyone walks on water in EERs. As I have said before, you not only have to walk on water while turning it into wine in order to stand out. 

The people who are best at it, and therefore more likely to get promoted, are the ones who are best at taking credit for everything and for general self-aggrandizement. Those who like to give credit to the team, who also tend to be the kind of folks who you would want to work with and for, tend not to be as good at it.

I hate EERs. I feel dirty writing them.

I would almost like to go back to the old way of doing them, which you can check out from the form below and the post I wrote about it four years ago:

From February 2010:

I wish I could take credit for finding this gem. Actually my wife found it (though really, if I can't take credit for what she does, whose efforts can I take credit for?!)

At any rate, it seems particularly timely given our (me and No Double Standard) recent discussion of EERs and the like. What my wife found was Form FS 316, the Performance Report for Foreign Service Officers, Revised June 1949 (and then according to a stamp on the page, again revised in June of 1958).

Now by Foreign Service Officers, the form means male FSOs...there are no feminine pronouns on the form.

Also missing from the form are the big blank boxes you have to fill in (there is only one for a summary and recommendations). Not even a "suicide box." No, instead, it is a bunch of multiple choice descriptors and the rater is to underline the one which is most descriptive of the officer and his job performance and to x out the letter of the one least descriptive.

So an example is:
A. He will probably not go much further in the service
B. He demands a high degree of efficiency from those associated with him
C. He is not active in seeking desirable contacts
D. He is imaginative
E. He is probably one of our future career ministers.

You get the idea. As I said, SHE is not an option. But at least I couldn't find the part where they graded an officer on his wife's ability to host social functions.

So with that in mind, I thought I'd share some of the funnier descriptors:

*He shows little taste in his clothes. (Maybe this is why Secretary Powell had to put out the memo saying no flip flops or sparkly tank tops)

*He is inclined to be pompous (I wonder if they consider this a good thing or a bad thing?)

*He is careless in his personal habits (this is the guy who got dust on his pants and the dust stayed there for the whole season...he wore them EVERY DAY).

* He becomes emotionally upset at times. (What, screaming is bad?)

* He gives little promise of development (And yet still gets promoted)

* He is a clock watcher in slack periods (How is this a bad thing?)

* He is petty in minor matters (and in major ones, he melts down completely)

* He is slow (How often have you asked how someone passed the FSOT?)

* He does not wear well as one knows him better (He seemed nice for the first 5 seconds I knew him)

* He bores intelligent people (this is my personal favorite)

* He has an exaggerated idea of his own importance. (I am pretty sure I worked with that guy).

* He has a tendency towards hair splitting (is this a comment on his appearance?)

* He is of limited intellectual attainments (no doubt the guy who bores intelligent people)

* His personal appearance is an asset (well thank god for that)

* He is overbearing (In the Foreign Service? Shocking!)

* He impresses you as not being fully alive to the problem you are discussing
(or maybe just not fully alive?)

You know, as I read this through, maybe we should bring it back. Of course, there'd be tons of lawsuits ("You can't call me stupid! Everyone is special!"), but there'd also be some honesty in the EER. Really all you need to do is add a feminine pronoun.

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