157. Briefing Memorandum From the Director General of the Foreign Service (Laise) to the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt)1

Job Analysis in the Department of State

As part of our continuing efforts to strengthen our ability to select the best officers rising through our Service and to develop effective leadership, we have recently initiated promotion reforms and are undertaking a fresh approach to executive development. I want to acquaint you with some work we are doing or planning in order to gain a better sense of what talent we need and to build better instruments for finding and developing that talent. An early step in our process is to identify and analyze the differing demands of senior and middle level jobs, and to discern with the maximum precision possible those qualities and skills which distinguish exceptional performance in various positions at those levels.

No one can define and weigh the qualities needed for effective performance in the Department of State better than those officers now in the Service. Our task is to tap the reservoir of collective knowledge and judgments of able and respected career State Department officials, and synthesize it by proven methods of analysis which will meet established standards of reliability and job relatedness. To accomplish a thorough, objective, and reliable study we plan to engage the services of professionals to work with our own officials on this project. This survey, to be conducted over the next several months, will involve meetings of panels of officers and in depth interviews with carefully selected individuals to identify and attempt to verify with methodological rigor the qualities needed for superior performance, especially at the senior level. The conclusions of the survey will provide a basis for our efforts to improve the evaluation, selection, training and assignments process.

I would be happy to discuss the results with you when the study is completed. Meanwhile, I will be available to provide further information on the project if you are interested.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor—Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Entry 5339, Box 3, HS Chron—Official, Oct–Dec 1976—Jan 1977. No classification marking. Drafted by N. Shaw Smith (DGPC/PC) on October 21 and concurred in by Richard B. Moon (PER/PE).