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Thread: Kelly: Volunteering won't serve as promotion tiebreaker

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    Administrator UncaRastus's Avatar
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    Kelly: Volunteering won't serve as promotion tiebreaker

    'Volunteering and education will remain an important element to produce well-rounded airmen who are active members of their communities, Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly said. But it's not going to help someone get their next stripe.

    And if two airmen are both excellent at their jobs, said Kelly, director of military force management policy, the Air Force isn't going to use how much they volunteer or whether they're going to school as a sort of tiebreaker.'

    Excerpted from the Air Force times.

    http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/m...aker/72070946/

    Hmmm. What say y'all?

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    Quote Originally Posted by UncaRastus View Post
    'Volunteering and education will remain an important element to produce well-rounded airmen who are active members of their communities, Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly said. But it's not going to help someone get their next stripe.

    And if two airmen are both excellent at their jobs, said Kelly, director of military force management policy, the Air Force isn't going to use how much they volunteer or whether they're going to school as a sort of tiebreaker.'

    Excerpted from the Air Force times.

    http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/m...aker/72070946/

    Hmmm. What say y'all?
    He is advocating rationality in the promotion process,, they will drag him out of his office soon for that sin.

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    Senior Member TJMAC77SP's Avatar
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    I certainly agree that an individual who is not on par with his/her peers in duty performance but volunteers and/or is furthering their off-duty education should not be promoted based on the non-duty factors. It should have never been so and I am not sure there is actual evidence it was. I have personally seen the STRIPES program abused but I have never figured out how a SSgt who works bake sales gets promoted under WAPS based on that fact alone.

    All other things being equal something needs to be a deciding factor. That is how I always viewed the non-duty related input. Of course we are speaking mainly about selection boards because how many bake sales you arrange or volunteer at doesn't earn one WAPS point.

    I do like to see these specific things deemphasized but let's remember that volunteering is a lot broader than the hated 'bake sale' everyone seems to target..
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    I have heard about AF bake sales, but I have never seen one being held. I wonder, who started these things? What is the reason that they are/were being held?

    They can't possibly be to help recruiting, can they? If I was contemplating entering the AF, that would be the thing that would make me want to join another service. Because I would think that a prospective recruit would be saying, 'I have to do this as part of my career? Forget the AF.'

    Or it used for helping support something like, um, a scholarship, or a wing party?

    I recall, while serving both in the USMC and the Navy as a Corpsman, I never once saw a bake sale being held. Maybe that would be because the Marines would probably eat everything at the tables that they would be sitting at, to sell baked goods?

    The dependants probably thought, 'We have lives to lead. Us being at bake sales? Are you kidding me? It's on Saturday? I am washing my hair on Saturday'.

    Maybe some of the dependents did do bake sales, and that just escaped me. And my service was from 1973 -1993, so maybe the Navy/Marine bases are having bake sales today.

    While I was in, I did see some bad times for advancement through the ranks. I recall one time where only one person was promoted in the ranks for E5s, as a Corpsman, within our region, which was a large chunk of the USA, for a year. At that time, and I do suspect that it is the same now, different NECs (MOSs) would have their own set number of people that they could advance. Or more likely, not advance.

    In the AF, is it like everyone is thrown into the same pool for advancement? Unlike the Navy and the Marines?

    Anyhow, back then, it did depend on one's Fitrep, and their tested knowledge for the next rate. Unless one reupped, that was the standard. Pretty much the same for Marines.

    We never depended on one's attendance at bake sales, for advancement. Ever.

    Did the AF did depend on extra curricular events, for advancement?

    Oh, and I would tell you guys that during the lean times, how I was the only Corpsman (except reenlisted personnel) that made E5 during one of those bad times, but hey. I don't want to brag ...

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    Senior Member Bos Mutus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJMAC77SP View Post
    I certainly agree that an individual who is not on par with his/her peers in duty performance but volunteers and/or is furthering their off-duty education should not be promoted based on the non-duty factors. It should have never been so and I am not sure there is actual evidence it was. I have personally seen the STRIPES program abused but I have never figured out how a SSgt who works bake sales gets promoted under WAPS based on that fact alone.

    All other things being equal something needs to be a deciding factor. That is how I always viewed the non-duty related input. Of course we are speaking mainly about selection boards because how many bake sales you arrange or volunteer at doesn't earn one WAPS point.

    I do like to see these specific things deemphasized but let's remember that volunteering is a lot broader than the hated 'bake sale' everyone seems to target..
    Yeah, but what typically happens is you have a BTZ or Quarterly board, so the board members start with the idea that everyone is good at their job or they wouldn't have been nominated...then you have people from different career fields, so how does someone know whether the orderly room clerk is "better" at their job than the medical tech? Apples and oranges. With that, the tendency is to give everyone max or near max points for job performance.

    Off-duty is where people can be compared equally...so they guy that did 400 hours at Boy Scouts and was Vice President of the Rising 6 or whatever... vs. the guy who showed up to a wing run...the point spread is bigger and overshadows any slight difference in job performance....even though the wing run guy may have been a total stud in job performance, there just isn't the point spread in that category...typically.

    It's not really so much for promotion under WAPS, but awards and BTZ stuff...

    Quote Originally Posted by UncaRastus View Post
    I have heard about AF bake sales, but I have never seen one being held. I wonder, who started these things? What is the reason that they are/were being held?
    "Bake Sales" is just a tongue in cheek metaphor for volunteer-type things...whether it be participating in like a Top 3 organization, reading stories at the Elementary School...fundraising golf tournament is a big one...car washes...they're not really having all these bake sales...though I'm sure baked goods are sold at times, it's not really a thing.

    Or it used for helping support something like, um, a scholarship, or a wing party?
    The fundraising efforts are generally for stuff like that, yes.
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    Senior Member TJMAC77SP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos Mutus View Post
    Yeah, but what typically happens is you have a BTZ or Quarterly board, so the board members start with the idea that everyone is good at their job or they wouldn't have been nominated...then you have people from different career fields, so how does someone know whether the orderly room clerk is "better" at their job than the medical tech? Apples and oranges. With that, the tendency is to give everyone max or near max points for job performance.

    Off-duty is where people can be compared equally...so they guy that did 400 hours at Boy Scouts and was Vice President of the Rising 6 or whatever... vs. the guy who showed up to a wing run...the point spread is bigger and overshadows any slight difference in job performance....even though the wing run guy may have been a total stud in job performance, there just isn't the point spread in that category...typically.

    It's not really so much for promotion under WAPS, but awards and BTZ stuff...



    "Bake Sales" is just a tongue in cheek metaphor for volunteer-type things...whether it be participating in like a Top 3 organization, reading stories at the Elementary School...fundraising golf tournament is a big one...car washes...they're not really having all these bake sales...though I'm sure baked goods are sold at times, it's not really a thing.



    The fundraising efforts are generally for stuff like that, yes.
    I see that point except that if I remember correctly there is a form (1210 or something like that) which requires quite a narrative so hopefully the job performance picture comes through. Add to that the real problem of anyone putting up someone for any such BTZ or quarterly board whose performance isn't up to par. That would be a failure of leadership not a condemnation of the consideration of non-duty activities. As I alluded to in the beginning of my post, volunteering alone should never be a primary or sole reason for promoting (or honoring in any way) but it is certainly a valid differentiating factor.

    Funny thing is that I myself had very little non-duty stuff to include in any PR or write-up. Aside from my degrees and running a LE Explorer post I didn't really do much that falls into this category.
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    Senior Member Bos Mutus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJMAC77SP View Post
    I see that point except that if I remember correctly there is a form (1210 or something like that) which requires quite a narrative so hopefully the job performance picture comes through. Add to that the real problem of anyone putting up someone for any such BTZ or quarterly board whose performance isn't up to par. That would be a failure of leadership not a condemnation of the consideration of non-duty activities.
    Yes...but, the thing is, is that it is typically pretty easy to fill in the job performance with bullets that sound great...a piece of paper you punched holes in was needed to order a $1M engine for a $30M jet that flew combat sorties...yada yada...so, there is little differentiation in the job performance category

    So, the fact that the differentiation comes from the "other" categories gives the impression that those things are "more important"

    People tend to figure out that Joe Blow won because he is the Pres. of the Rising 5 and going to school...even though he's good at work, but not as much of a stone cold jobber stud as John Bone.

    As I alluded to in the beginning of my post, volunteering alone should never be a primary or sole reason for promoting (or honoring in any way) but it is certainly a valid differentiating factor.
    Well, it's not "alone"...I think we all agree with that...it just tends to be the differentiating factor, giving the impression that it is the most important. A skilled writer can make anyone's job performance sound awesome...but difficult to do that with off-duty involvement if there's just nothing there.

    Funny thing is that I myself had very little non-duty stuff to include in any PR or write-up. Aside from my degrees and running a LE Explorer post I didn't really do much that falls into this category.
    Last edited by Bos Mutus; 09-14-2015 at 01:43 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos Mutus View Post
    Yes...but, the thing is, is that it is typically pretty easy to fill in the job performance with bullets that sound great...a piece of paper you punched holes in was needed to order a $1M engine for a $30M jet that flew combat sorties...yada yada...so, there is little differentiation in the job performance category

    So, the fact that the differentiation comes from the "other" categories gives the impression that those things are "more important"

    People tend to figure out that Joe Blow won because he is the Pres. of the Rising 5 and going to school...even though he's good at work, but not as much of a stone cold jobber stud as John Bone.



    Well, it's not "alone"...I think we all agree with that...it just tends to be the differentiating factor, giving the impression that it is the most important. A skilled writer can make anyone's job performance sound awesome...but difficult to do that with off-duty involvement if there's just nothing there.
    I've never understood what the big gripe was about the volunteer stuff either. I can honestly say that I maybe spent 8-10 hours per year volunteering as an Airman. Yes you read that right, PER YEAR. Usually my volunteer bullets ended up getting filled by doing AADD the week before my EPR was due and then maybe sitting in on some planning committee for the squadron Christmas party. If other bullets were ever needed, my supervisor just made them up or made the things I did do sound really cool. For example, my supervisor's husband was deployed and she went TDY. I mowed her grass one time. My supervisor wrote it up like I mowed grass all the time for deployed warriors. In reality, it was just that one time and it was a very small yard. Another time I helped a co-worker repair their roof. Again it took less than an hour and was something I would have done anyways. My supervisor wrote about how I repaired a roof for a DoD civilian who's husband is disabled (he's on disability, he actually works, he even helped with the roof)

    The things I mentioned above are things that I did because I'm a kind human being (sometimes). I didn't do them because I was hoping to get volunteer points. I always focused on my job and it paid off. I made SSgt first try with 4,5,4 for EPRs (long story). My test score was in the 95 percentile for my career field. It turns out all the work and studying I did actually paid off. My peers spent on all their time on pointless activities that earned them 5s on EPRs. They got the max 135 points. I forget the exact number I had, but it was like 120. Honestly, I would have had the same 135 had I stayed out of trouble. Either way, I easily made up the missing 15 points.


    That brings me to my next point. I can think of two Airmen who went crazy doing the volunteer stuff. Both of them made SrA Below-The-Zone. It was noted on one of their award packages that she had over 2,000 volunteer hours. When I read that, I laughed so hard. If that is true, she spent 2,000 hours volunteering to earn a stripe six months early. Hopefully she was doing that volunteering on something she loved. Otherwise she was working a job for less than minimum wage on the hope that she would win BTZ (which wasn't guaranteed).

    The other person I'm thinking of was also a female. She was our cashier for the first few years I was at my first base. In finance, we keep duties separated in order to prevent fraud. If you have access to handle money or pay vouchers you literally can't have any other system access. You can be the cashier and that's pretty much it. Your supervisor is the disbursing officer and can make payments in your absence. Anyways, this girl spent a lot of time volunteering for everything on base. She was the AFSA President, Base Enlisted Advisory Council President, and she would volunteer to help with literally everything. She usually ran and organized these things from work. Well guess what, she wasn't doing anything else anyways and she literally couldn't. When she was out of the office for the events, her boss easily covered for her. When it came time for SrA Below-The-Zone she easily won because she knew everyone on the board. When it came time to test for SSgt, that was a different story. Counting money isn't a big part of WAPS testing. Myself and several other people made SSgt while she didn't. People wondered why the "golden child" didn't make it. Plain and simple, all that volunteering can get you 135 EPR points but the cutoff is usually close to 300. You still need 165 points from somewhere else. Volunteer time might get you a good EPR but if you do it at the expense of learning your job it will come back to bite you in the end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos Mutus View Post
    Yes...but, the thing is, is that it is typically pretty easy to fill in the job performance with bullets that sound great...a piece of paper you punched holes in was needed to order a $1M engine for a $30M jet that flew combat sorties...yada yada...so, there is little differentiation in the job performance category

    So, the fact that the differentiation comes from the "other" categories gives the impression that those things are "more important"

    People tend to figure out that Joe Blow won because he is the Pres. of the Rising 5 and going to school...even though he's good at work, but not as much of a stone cold jobber stud as John Bone.



    Well, it's not "alone"...I think we all agree with that...it just tends to be the differentiating factor, giving the impression that it is the most important. A skilled writer can make anyone's job performance sound awesome...but difficult to do that with off-duty involvement if there's just nothing there.
    I've never understood what the big gripe was about the volunteer stuff either. I can honestly say that I maybe spent 8-10 hours per year volunteering as an Airman. Yes you read that right, PER YEAR. Usually my volunteer bullets ended up getting filled by doing AADD the week before my EPR was due and then maybe sitting in on some planning committee for the squadron Christmas party. If other bullets were ever needed, my supervisor just made them up or made the things I did do sound really cool. For example, my supervisor's husband was deployed and she went TDY. I mowed her grass one time. My supervisor wrote it up like I mowed grass all the time for deployed warriors. In reality, it was just that one time and it was a very small yard. Another time I helped a co-worker repair their roof. Again it took less than an hour and was something I would have done anyways. My supervisor wrote about how I repaired a roof for a DoD civilian who's husband is disabled (he's on disability, he actually works, he even helped with the roof)

    The things I mentioned above are things that I did because I'm a kind human being (sometimes). I didn't do them because I was hoping to get volunteer points. I always focused on my job and it paid off. I made SSgt first try with 4,5,4 for EPRs (long story). My test score was in the 95 percentile for my career field. It turns out all the work and studying I did actually paid off. My peers spent on all their time on pointless activities that earned them 5s on EPRs. They got the max 135 points. I forget the exact number I had, but it was like 120. Honestly, I would have had the same 135 had I stayed out of trouble. Either way, I easily made up the missing 15 points.


    That brings me to my next point. I can think of two Airmen who went crazy doing the volunteer stuff. Both of them made SrA Below-The-Zone. It was noted on one of their award packages that she had over 2,000 volunteer hours. When I read that, I laughed so hard. If that is true, she spent 2,000 hours volunteering to earn a stripe six months early. Hopefully she was doing that volunteering on something she loved. Otherwise she was working a job for less than minimum wage on the hope that she would win BTZ (which wasn't guaranteed).

    The other person I'm thinking of was also a female. She was our cashier for the first few years I was at my first base. In finance, we keep duties separated in order to prevent fraud. If you have access to handle money or pay vouchers you literally can't have any other system access. You can be the cashier and that's pretty much it. Your supervisor is the disbursing officer and can make payments in your absence. Anyways, this girl spent a lot of time volunteering for everything on base. She was the AFSA President, Base Enlisted Advisory Council President, and she would volunteer to help with literally everything. She usually ran and organized these things from work. Well guess what, she wasn't doing anything else anyways and she literally couldn't. When she was out of the office for the events, her boss easily covered for her. When it came time for SrA Below-The-Zone she easily won because she knew everyone on the board. When it came time to test for SSgt, that was a different story. Counting money isn't a big part of WAPS testing. Myself and several other people made SSgt while she didn't. People wondered why the "golden child" didn't make it. Plain and simple, all that volunteering can get you 135 EPR points but the cutoff is usually close to 300. You still need 165 points from somewhere else. Volunteer time might get you a good EPR but if you do it at the expense of learning your job it will come back to bite you in the end.

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    Senior Member TJMAC77SP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos Mutus View Post
    Yes...but, the thing is, is that it is typically pretty easy to fill in the job performance with bullets that sound great...a piece of paper you punched holes in was needed to order a $1M engine for a $30M jet that flew combat sorties...yada yada...so, there is little differentiation in the job performance category

    So, the fact that the differentiation comes from the "other" categories gives the impression that those things are "more important"

    People tend to figure out that Joe Blow won because he is the Pres. of the Rising 5 and going to school...even though he's good at work, but not as much of a stone cold jobber stud as John Bone.



    Well, it's not "alone"...I think we all agree with that...it just tends to be the differentiating factor, giving the impression that it is the most important. A skilled writer can make anyone's job performance sound awesome...but difficult to do that with off-duty involvement if there's just nothing there.
    Let's agree that in a situation where two people whose job performance is not at the same level the non-duty activity of the lesser performer should not automatically put him/her ahead of his/her peer.

    What factors would you use if the job performance is apparently equal and whose opinion will decide the performance level in the first place? The airman's peers? Not exactly a universally objective group.

    Of course there will always be people promoted who more than likely didn't deserve it at that point and sometimes for the resulting reasons. I see it as a leadership issue and not with the fact that non-duty activity is considered. I mentioned the STRIPES program in my first post. I know firsthand of a SSgt who was promoted to TSgt simply because he was a good golfer and he was the commander's choice of partner whenever a golf outing took place (this was Tyndall so that happens pretty often). His performance was hardly superior. That is as objective an opinion as I can have as this guy was a friend of mine. Having said that I still think the STRIPES program is valuable.

    I think it valid to consider non-duty activity in deciding who gets an honor or promotion. . The burden of making sure that consideration doesn't carry more weight than it should is leadership's to bear. Maybe that is what BG Kelly is attempting to do. In the end though it can't be rectified by AFI's

    In the interest of full disclosure, I never heard much complaining about this situation while I was on active duty but have read a lot of it here on the MTF since retiring. It is entirely possible that there was a sea-change and this stuff started getting attention that is way out of line with reality.
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