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Thread: Air Force does away with promotion test for senior NCOs

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LogDog View Post
    The questions, as a reviewer of the EPR, I'd have are what specifically did they do to "take care of a building," what type of equipment was there, and how did their actions postively impact their and their squadron's mission. Numbers alone are insufficient, you have to show impact. If you, as the supervisor, is writing that in an EPR then you're not doing your job nor are you helping your people.
    I'm very familiar with the purpose. I just don't think it works.


    I agree that everyone should start out with a "3" and it's up to the individual to upgrade or downgrade it. If you're going to give someone less than a "3" then you should have documentation readily available to support your evaluation.
    Should also have to do the same if you're going to give above a 3. I've known people who write 4s and 5s because it's easier and requires less justification than a 3. Turn that around and the ratings would become more accurate, IMO.


    Even a professional writer has a editor who reviews the book before it's published. In the AF, what we "publish" most often are EPRs and before they're "published" they need to be reviewed to ensure the product meets established standards. I've heard the arguments about the waste of time the review is but it's necessary because it affects the individual career. I wouldn't have want someone who's writing skills are on the 7-grade level to determine my promotion and/or possible assignments. The EPR should read like a literate, educated person wrote it.
    You're joking, right? A literate, educated person doesn't use 8 abbreviations on one line of writing just to fit the space. There is nothing literate about an EPR. EPRs in the early 90s were far more literate and far more to the point. Unfortunately, the Air Force is more worried about format than substance.


    All evaluations are subjective and part of the review process means different eyes see the EPR which, ideally, helps eliminates supervisor/endorser biases. Look at the EPR this way, it's a form of a resume that tells the reader what the person's responsibilities were, what they did, their achievements and their impact, and their potential for increased duties and responsibilities.
    If the endorser doesn't trust the supervisor, the supervisor shouldn't be in that position. Be honest with yourself, it's easy as hell to tell those who are ready for increased duties and responsibilities without an EPR.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by LogDog View Post
    There is no perfect system and there will never be a perfect systems. I disagree on having promotions decided on the local level because that only encourages "butt-snorkling." Unless things have changed since I retired, when a person is selected for promotion the commander is required to review the individual's PIF to ensure there is no unfavorable information in it to prevent them from being promoted. This is, although imperfect, a local check-and-balance to prevent "favorites" from being promoted over top performers.

    I think the local level decision would be great, if possible. Of course, you have to see through the butt-snorkeling, know your people, etc. Easier for the rater to do that (if they are worth anything themselves), but not so much the rater's rater. That said, that is why they have (or had) a non concur block the rater's rater could check if they didn't agree with the rater's rating. For promotions in general, it's simply human nature to promote "favorites," especially in the civilian world. As a supervisor/manager, I've never had a "favorite" workerbee who wasn't actually outstanding in their job.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by AF sgt View Post
    I'm very familiar with the purpose. I just don't think it works.
    Why, in your opinion, doesn't it work and where does the fault lie?


    Should also have to do the same if you're going to give above a 3. I've known people who write 4s and 5s because it's easier and requires less justification than a 3. Turn that around and the ratings would become more accurate, IMO.
    A good supervisor will have documentation or have documents/records to support their ratings above a "3."

    You're joking, right? A literate, educated person doesn't use 8 abbreviations on one line of writing just to fit the space. There is nothing literate about an EPR. EPRs in the early 90s were far more literate and far more to the point. Unfortunately, the Air Force is more worried about format than substance.
    I'm not familiar with the writing style of EPRs today but I am familiar with the styles from the late 70s to the early 2000s. We went from a narrative paragraph in the 70s to bullet statements with no white spaces (hated that policy). I recognize that not everyone is good at writing which is why someone needs to review the EPR before it is finalized. When I wrote an EPR I wanted to make sure anyone reading it knew exactly what I was saying so there wouldn't be any ambiguity about it and the information was backed up with documentation rather than just my say-so. So when one of my EPRs came back with corrections I'd either agree with the correction(s) discuss it with the reviewer to understand their reasoning. Sometimes I'd convince then and sometimes I didn't but in the end I made sure the substance and meaning of what I wrote remained intact.

    If the endorser doesn't trust the supervisor, the supervisor shouldn't be in that position. Be honest with yourself, it's easy as hell to tell those who are ready for increased duties and responsibilities without an EPR.
    Who makes the decision to promote someone? If the person is new to the unit and they don't know the history of their people how are they to determine who to promote? Local decision authority only encourages a "Good Old Boy" system which was how the AF operated 50 years ago. Let's be realistic, the AF isn't a local company in which the employees are going to live and work there for decades so you'll be aware, over time, who should be promoted and who shouldn't. AF people move around the world so you have people entering/exiting your unit and you have to have some standardize process to fairly promote people. I doubt you'd like it if you had been a top performer at your old base and you had been denied promotion at your new base because you hadn't been there long enough to prove yourself and your supervisor/commander don't know anything about you.

    I've advocated for a radical change with the EPR for years. That change is to drop the EPR entirely from the WAPS and use it for what it should be used for; an administrative tool for supervisors/commanders to honestly evaluate their people for promotion and assignments. The problem with the current system (and has been for many years) is rating inflation which comes from two sources: laziness on the part of the supervisor and the supervisor/commanders not wanting to hurt the ratee's chance for promotion by giving them anything less than a "5" EPR. As long as rating inflation continues it will only encourage ratee's not to do more than what they're currently doing and it won't develop them into good/better NCOs.

  4. #24
    Senior Member Bos Mutus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LogDog View Post

    I've advocated for a radical change with the EPR for years. That change is to drop the EPR entirely from the WAPS and use it for what it should be used for; an administrative tool for supervisors/commanders to honestly evaluate their people for promotion and assignments.
    How would they be used for promotion if they are removed from WAPS?

    The problem with the current system (and has been for many years) is rating inflation which comes from two sources: laziness on the part of the supervisor and the supervisor/commanders not wanting to hurt the ratee's chance for promotion by giving them anything less than a "5" EPR. As long as rating inflation continues it will only encourage ratee's not to do more than what they're currently doing and it won't develop them into good/better NCOs.
    I'm not current on EPRs right now, but my understanding is the top scores are limited now, the commander can only give a small percentage of "Must Promotes" in order to control inflation.
    The Voice of Reason

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    Quote Originally Posted by LogDog View Post
    Why, in your opinion, doesn't it work and where does the fault lie?
    It doesn't work because the numbers (I don't want to say false here) don't always accurately describe the impact, but those reviewing put so much weight on the impact (which is always made to sound like it's world changing, even though most times it's just part of the day to day job). The fault lies with the rater, the ratee, and the system, as well as everyone else who reviews it.



    A good supervisor will have documentation or have documents/records to support their ratings above a "3."
    They should, for sure, but right now all you need is documentation if it's not a 4 or 5.


    I'm not familiar with the writing style of EPRs today but I am familiar with the styles from the late 70s to the early 2000s. We went from a narrative paragraph in the 70s to bullet statements with no white spaces (hated that policy). I recognize that not everyone is good at writing which is why someone needs to review the EPR before it is finalized. When I wrote an EPR I wanted to make sure anyone reading it knew exactly what I was saying so there wouldn't be any ambiguity about it and the information was backed up with documentation rather than just my say-so. So when one of my EPRs came back with corrections I'd either agree with the correction(s) discuss it with the reviewer to understand their reasoning. Sometimes I'd convince then and sometimes I didn't but in the end I made sure the substance and meaning of what I wrote remained intact.
    EPRs today are full of abbreviations that are pulled of on an approved abbreviation list (AF wide and usually Wing wide, so two lists) and the entire EPR is full of the in order to allow more (useless) information to be written just to make sure it's jam packed with as many words as possible, because I guess more words equals a better job was done.


    Who makes the decision to promote someone?
    There still needs to be a rating system, it just needs to make sense, and be about substance, not format.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos Mutus View Post
    How would they be used for promotion if they are removed from WAPS?
    As a final review, upon receipt of the promotion list the commander would review the EPRs, along with the individual's PIFs, to ensure the selectee should be promoted.



    I'm not current on EPRs right now, but my understanding is the top scores are limited now, the commander can only give a small percentage of "Must Promotes" in order to control inflation.
    Sounds like a quota system to me. I've been in flights where there were a couple of people of the same rank who were outstanding and to choose which one of them should be a "Must Promote" would hurt morale.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by LogDog View Post

    Sounds like a quota system to me. I've been in flights where there were a couple of people of the same rank who were outstanding and to choose which one of them should be a "Must Promote" would hurt morale.
    It's tough, especially in a squadron like CE where, just by description of the job, the Fire Department has the advantage. An objective person looking at an EPR from a Fire Dog vs an EPR for a Structures guy is a no-contest, almost every time. A fire dog gives CPR to a 70 year old at the gym and he's already light years ahead of a Structures guy who maintained 100 buildings on base. The system, with a quota or not, is broken (again, simply because of the "impact" statement).

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    Quote Originally Posted by AF sgt View Post
    It doesn't work because the numbers (I don't want to say false here) don't always accurately describe the impact, but those reviewing put so much weight on the impact (which is always made to sound like it's world changing, even though most times it's just part of the day to day job). The fault lies with the rater, the ratee, and the system, as well as everyone else who reviews it.
    It sounds like you want to put only what they do/did which sounds like a the portion of their job description. Are you advocating using just the job description and eliminating rater's comments?

    They should, for sure, but right now all you need is documentation if it's not a 4 or 5.
    I can understand that.


    EPRs today are full of abbreviations that are pulled of on an approved abbreviation list (AF wide and usually Wing wide, so two lists) and the entire EPR is full of the in order to allow more (useless) information to be written just to make sure it's jam packed with as many words as possible, because I guess more words equals a better job was done.
    I can see abbreviations used AF-wide being included but I balk at the idea of not leaving any white space. A bullet statement should take up a least 75% of the line even if there is white space left.


    There still needs to be a rating system, it just needs to make sense, and be about substance, not format.
    The system isn't perfect and never will be. I think everyone wants a rating system that is fair, honest, and substantive. There also has to be a system to standardize how to document the ratings. Any standardized system will have rules on how format the information and that's what we've had for decades. There will always be rules on how to write the comments so everyone at every base will be doing it the same way. That way, a wordsmith's comments doesn't weigh higher than someone who isn't as adept at writing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LogDog View Post
    It sounds like you want to put only what they do/did which sounds like a the portion of their job description. Are you advocating using just the job description and eliminating rater's comments?
    No, actually I think the rater's comments are far more important than the job description. And if leadership doesn't think they can trust the rater's comments, then they should change the rater.



    I can see abbreviations used AF-wide being included but I balk at the idea of not leaving any white space. A bullet statement should take up a least 75% of the line even if there is white space left.
    I think that sub-bullets should be allowed. Having 5 bullets that require sub-bullets (because of everything that was done) is far better, IMO, then having 15 (or however many it is) jammed onto the form just because. It's quality over quantity.



    The system isn't perfect and never will be. I think everyone wants a rating system that is fair, honest, and substantive. There also has to be a system to standardize how to document the ratings. Any standardized system will have rules on how format the information and that's what we've had for decades. There will always be rules on how to write the comments so everyone at every base will be doing it the same way. That way, a wordsmith's comments doesn't weigh higher than someone who isn't as adept at writing.
    I see it the opposite. The standardized system makes it much harder to show the difference between the 3 rating and the 5 rating. Plus, leadership really doesn't want to see a 3 anyway. Here's an example of something I've been through, and I'm sure many others have, as well:

    I write a 3 EPR, and I write it like a 3 should be written, not showing a whole lot of impact for the tasks completed, etc. Comes back from the head shed with red ink saying "need stronger bullets", so I write a couple stronger bullets; comes back from the head shed with red ink saying "these bullets make the EPR sound like at least a 4". Well, no shit! That's why it was written the way it was in the first place, so as not to confuse the ratee with a top performer.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by AF sgt View Post
    No, actually I think the rater's comments are far more important than the job description. And if leadership doesn't think they can trust the rater's comments, then they should change the rater.
    Both are important. The rater's comments should reflect the duties/responsibilities in the job description. You have the rater's comments and the endorser's comments and the endorser acts as a check-and-balance to ensure the rater is fairly rating the individual. If the leadership can't trust the rater's comments then chances are there's a problem in either the leadership, the rater, or both.



    I think that sub-bullets should be allowed. Having 5 bullets that require sub-bullets (because of everything that was done) is far better, IMO, then having 15 (or however many it is) jammed onto the form just because. It's quality over quantity.
    Sub-bullets have been used in the past to expand upon the impact of an accomplishment. I'd limit sub-bullets to one per bullet statement.


    I see it the opposite. The standardized system makes it much harder to show the difference between the 3 rating and the 5 rating. Plus, leadership really doesn't want to see a 3 anyway. Here's an example of something I've been through, and I'm sure many others have, as well:
    The rating system depends upon the individual rater and those above him to ensure integrity. Too often, the raters don't want to harm the ratee's chance of promotion and that's where the system fails. If leadership doesn't want to see a "3" then that's their problem. When I reviewed EPRs at the squadron/group level I didn't push anyone to change a rating. The only thing I did was to make sure their comments properly reflected the rating.


    I write a 3 EPR, and I write it like a 3 should be written, not showing a whole lot of impact for the tasks completed, etc. Comes back from the head shed with red ink saying "need stronger bullets", so I write a couple stronger bullets; comes back from the head shed with red ink saying "these bullets make the EPR sound like at least a 4". Well, no shit! That's why it was written the way it was in the first place, so as not to confuse the ratee with a top performer.
    I hope you stood your ground and not inflate the accomplishments. As a TSgt, I wrote an EPR for an airman and I was told to downgrade it by my superintendent (an E-8) because he disagreed with it. I stood my ground and told him I felt it was an honest evaluation and that if he wanted it changed he had his section to write his comments and mark his rating. My comments/ratings remained unchanged and he did a non-concur on the EPR.

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