Tuesday, August 01, 2006

EERs and Barber Shop Poles

Innovation for the sake of innovation is not progress; it's like a barber shop pole, merely offering the illusion of upward movement. The EER-driven nature of the FS (EERs being our yearly work evaluations) encourages project building and sweeping change, without any regard for the possible merit of maintaining the status quo. A lot of half-baked things in the Service appear to be traceable back to a blip on some aspiring officer's EER. I can understand the reasons -- the FS is full of people in lackluster jobs who want a creative outlet to offset their boredom, and a way to 'sparkle' and set themselves apart. It's hard to shine when your job is the consular equivalent of the DMV. If I didn't have side projects to occupy my brain space, I'd be rubbing myself raw against the 'bars' of my visa window like some 1950s zoo animal.

I worry, though, that the things I want to do won't really be beneficial in the end -- or if they are, that they won't be carried on by the people who follow me. I've uncovered enough hints of the lengths to which my predecessor went to improve things to know that the majority of his work fell into a blackhole the minute he left; and I'm experiencing the painful aftermath of a number of well-intentioned projects begun idly by other officers who departed long before seeing the infeasibility of their plans. I've concluded that a good deal of consultation and input is necessary before implementing any of the many projects I've conceived of. This isn't natural for me, and it's anathema to an EER culture which by its nature asks you to stand out among your peers. I really think the EERs need to change. Maybe we could start an evaluation category rewarding teamwork and future planning... Or maybe that's just me imposing my own desires on the system in a discussion vacuum.

But wouldn't piloting an EER reform project look good on my EER..?

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