Pompeo brought some assets to his new role, notably a good rapport with Trump, an insider's grasp of Congress and deeper understanding of the federal bureaucracy from his CIA service.
"We will continue to see robust promotion opportunities in the future absent any significant shifts in our budget," Pompeo wrote in an internal memo on Aug. 31.
"It's more rapprochement than detente," one senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity, alluding to U.S.-Soviet efforts to ease Cold War tensions. "He's doing more than just trying to end the hostility. He is reaching out."
Beyond antagonizing employees by working to redesign and shrink the agency, Tillerson upset many by forcing out or under-using the department's "career ambassadors" — the top foreign service rank typically given to only a handful of diplomats, officials said. Four career ambassadors stepped down in 2017.
Pompeo, in contrast, has gone out of his way to praise the four new career ambassadors whose elevation was just announced.
"This is the highest and most prestigious rank at the Foreign Service. They should all be very proud. I know I'm proud of them," Pompeo told reporters. "They're great leaders."
While many State Department officials have said they appreciate the ways in which Pompeo has sought to build back morale, one of his signature efforts — rebranding the agency as the "Department of Swagger" — has drawn some ridicule and eye rolls, both inside and outside the State Department.
Pompeo, who graduated first in his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said on his first day at the State Department that he would work on "getting back our swagger" and putting the U.S. diplomatic corps in "every corner," drawing loud applause from hundreds of staffers.
U.S. diplomats are taught, however, to be understated rather than overbearing, given U.S. economic and military might.
"I have not heard anyone say: 'This is awesome. Thumbs up. Fist bump,'" one agency official said of Pompeo's swagger campaign. "No."