By John Berry
This past July, the Department of State celebrated its 230th anniversary. As employees reflected upon the Department’s rich history, they also looked forward by rededicating themselves to their work, to their oaths to the Constitution, to protecting and serving the American people and to their commitments to each other as one team.
An important element of this rededication took place when the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) launched the first “One Team” course pilot, Aug. 26. The course was designed specifically to give new direct-hire American employees a better sense of the Department’s mission, culture, ethos and history; to create more cohesion across all employee categories; and to help employees see how each contributes to the success of the Department. Eighty-five new colleagues, representing a multitude of offices and experiences within the Department, learned and worked side-by-side for four days. The class included 29 civil service employees, 21 Foreign Service generalists, 19 Foreign Service specialists, 10 limited non-career appointments and six political appointees.
One Team is a non-traditional course with few lectures but plenty of hands-on activities, simulations and discussions intended to build on what new employees learned in their respective orientation courses. The course structure, as well as the content of the lessons, emerged from an intensive needs assessment process conducted by FSI in the spring, which included interviews with dozens of Department principals and stakeholders, focus groups with Foreign Service and civil service employees and survey responses from more than 100 recently hired employees.
FSI’s instructors and specialists are now analyzing the feedback from this first pilot and will use it to refine the One Team course over additional trial runs scheduled for this fall and in early 2020. Once the course content is finalized, FSI’s goal is to expand course offerings significantly to accommodate the 1,600-1,800 new employees who join the Department each year. FSI is also looking for ways to adapt the course to reach a broader audience, including the locally employed staff overseas.
The next pilot course, which will take place Nov. 4-7, will bring to the classroom employees who have served for less than one year in the Department. Employees interested in further information regarding the course can contact the One Team coordinators at OneTeam@state.gov.
John Berry is an administrative assistant for the School of Professional and Area Studies, Orientation Division and the course assistant for the One Team course at the Foreign Service Institute.