USAID Institutional Support: How Appreciative Performance Management Leads to Exceptional Service and Quality

Written by: Beeta Tahmassebi, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives,

Since 2021, EnCompass has been honored to support USAID’s Technical, Operational, and Program Support (TOPS) contract, helping the Agency quickly identify and mobilize the support it needs to accomplish its 2022 Climate Strategy goals. In partnership with our subcontractor, Environmental Incentives, the TOPS team works to ensure that USAID has a best-in-class institutional support mechanism, providing the right experts with the right skills to support climate and natural environment programming and rapidly respond to Agency needs.  

Our approach is grounded in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and Appreciative Performance Management, which encourages pause-and-reflect sessions focused on identifying and valuing contributions and identifying opportunities for growth and development that build on staff strengths and exceptional performance. Our goal is to provide an inclusive work environment that engages our embedded staff and creates opportunities for professional advancement. 

As an institutional support contractor, we are privileged to be finding great talent to support USAID. We also know that to do their best work, our Institutional Support Contracts (ISCs) need ongoing support. While we are not privy to all the details of our ISCs’ USAID assignments, there are many ways we can offer our services, including: administrative support, knowledge sharing, coaching around growth and development, and even simple camaraderie.  

Recently, some of our TOPS Specialists shared feedback regarding our approach to performance management: 

  • I have appreciated the supervision and the strong focus on people and process that are such clear components of the EnCompass Team culture. I have been impressed by the extent that EnCompass embodies its ideals through the emphasis on staff and ways of working that are guided by company values.  
  • Working with my supervisor feels like having a personal coach, and it’s been a pleasure to have her as a sounding board during my adjustment to working with government. Having the opportunity to check in or attend an EnCompass Team training/event frequently provides an occasion to take a step back from [the] everyday of my work with USAID and reflect on the big picture.  
  • I love the travel support I receive from TOPS! I also appreciate that support is readily available, and that the team always responds quickly to emails. Overall, I appreciate the consideration for our work and time with USAID. 
  • The TOPS team has been a great resource when it comes to administrative work, travel authorizations, and answering questions about protocol and expectations. Our project manager has made herself available whenever I have expressed a need for assistance, and she’s been great about following up and closing the loop on things.  
  • I love the people! I feel so lucky to work with the TOPS team, I feel very supported and very lucky. I feel they believe in and support my success. 

When we launched TOPS at EnCompass, we had a vision for what an exceptional ISC mechanism could look like. Many of our Specialists are more than a year into their service with USAID, and we are gratified to see that the Appreciative Performance Management systems and processes we worked so hard to embed in the mechanism have been a success and are appreciated by our amazing TOPS experts. 

We take this vision and commitment to ISC support with us as we embark on new and equally exciting ISC programs, including the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance Support Contract (BHASC). We are thrilled to have already onboarded more than thirty BHA ISCs so far, and we look forward to providing them with the support they need to serve USAID’s international disaster response and humanitarian assistance initiatives.  

If you are interested in learning more about positions available through TOPS or BHASC, please take a look at our job openings. If you are interested in serving as an ISC, it would be our honor to partner with you on the journey. 

Beeta Tahmassebi

Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

Beeta Shadman Tahmassebi, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, oversees EnCompass' knowledge management and communications teams, manages enterprise risk management, and is Executive Director for the EnCompass Learning Center (ELC). From 2017 to 2020, Ms. Tahmassebi was also Director of Operations for The Evaluators' Institute. She has managed evaluation and development programs for a range of clients, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health, USAID, Save the Children, Lutheran World Relief, IREX, American Library Association, Institute for Museum and Library Services, U.S. Department of Labor, World Food Programme, International Fund for Agricultural Development, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Marriot International, and Daimler AG. With many years of experience designing, managing, and evaluating capacity strengthening and learning programs, Ms. Tahmassebi is excited to provide high-quality professional development in evaluation, management, and international development to a global audience of learners through the ELC. She is a champion for young and emerging evaluators, bringing a strong commitment to lifelong learning to EnCompass' clients. Ms. Tahmassebi serves on the Board of Directors (2020 President-Elect and 2021 President) for Washington Evaluators, the largest local affiliate of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). She is a frequent presenter at special events and conferences, serves on the AEA Working Group for Evaluation Professionalization, and is an active member of the AEA local affiliates collaborative. She has an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDounough School of Business and is proficient in Farsi.

Leave a Reply

Skip to content