The age old advice that nobody will care about your career as much as you, is true. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Soldier, NCO or officer, nobody is going to babysit you and make sure you are getting where you want to go. If it’s time for the promotion board, make sure your stuff is squared away. If you know it’s time for your OER to be due, make sure you have your OER support form finished and to your rater well before your due date.
The same goes for NCOERs. I have been on the receiving end of an NCOER and have also written them. I would like to share my top five do’s and don’ts for NCOERs.
DO utilize the NCOER counseling and support form (DA Form 2166-8-1) – I can’t stress how helpful this could be for you. I know it isn’t the most popular concept in the world, but hear me out. Officers turn in an OER support form because, if written well, most of what you say will get included in your actual evaluation. It is a way for you to highlight what you accomplished during your rating period, in a professional manner. Why wouldn’t this be useful for an NCO to use, too? Shouldn’t you have some input on your rating, in case your rater missed something important that you did?
DO review your NCOER thoroughly before signing it – I’ve seen mistakes that three different people didn’t catch. One time, the Soldier’s own SSN was wrong! And they signed it without checking! Make sure that everything looks right, and that there aren’t any major spelling errors or grammar issues. This document reflects on you, not so much on the rater. Unfortunately, it’s true advice. If you put a shoddily written document in a packet for a board, they are going to question YOU…not the rater!
DO track your NCOER to make sure it gets done on time – Some units are great at tracking NCOERs, and with some, it is a lingering issue. Don’t always count on your admin clerks to track your stuff. They should be tracking it in general, but this goes back to the idea that nobody will care as much about your stuff as you do. If something doesn’t seem right, ask. If it’s getting down to the wire and you haven’t seen it for review yet, ask. There is no harm in asking for updates – your admin clerks should not be annoyed by this.
DON’T write your own NCOER! You should have input (via the NCOER Support Form). Yes, you should give your rater a snapshot of your rating period on that form, and help them fill in the blanks if they forgot a significant accomplishment. BUT…YOU SHOULD NOT WRITE YOUR OWN NCOER! Hold your rater accountable, they should not take the lazy way out. I know my opinion may not be popular, and that a lot of people have to write their own NCOERs. It doesn’t make it right, just because everyone else does it. Your rater is a leader, they should take care of these things.
DON’T expect 1s across the board every time – I know we all like to think we are the best of the best, Chuck Norris ninja status. Too many times, NCOERs get diluted because the rater is too afraid to honestly rate the person. When they do, the rated NCO ends up thinking they are the worst ever. If you don’t get 1s checked by your senior rater, don’t worry about it. The only ones you should be worrying about are the bad NCOERs that are removing you from leadership, etc. We all have room for improvement, and I don’t think anybody can realistically expect to get the top rating every single year.
I think there are some realistic expectations we should have for NCOERs. What are your experiences with NCOERs? Do you have any more do’s and don’ts to add? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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7 thoughts on “Army NCOERs – Top Five Do’s and Don’ts”
I agree that it would not be very wise to write your own evaluation report. If it were a glowing review, it would not matter because YOU wrote it. I do not believe that anyone would give it much credibility. Good or bad, a review written by a superior would carry far more weight. I particularly like the comment by ML Loughran, in which she states that she would take her supervisor up on the offer to write a self-review to then compare to her supervisor’s review. That is an excellent way to tell if your expectations match those of your superior’s, and a great way to show that you are open to criticism.
One of my favorite supervisors always had the policy of writing annual reviews but she gave everyone a blank copy so we could do a self-evaluation. It was voluntary and we only had to share our self-eval if we wanted to. Personally I always handed mine in. When we sat down for the official review it was a chance to see where we saw eye to eye or where there was room for improvement. If you are the reviewer seeing the self-perception of your subordinates is important: 1) it tells you if they are full of delusions of grandeur or 2) humble and tough self-evals show honesty and a willingness to improve (leadership qualities). Don’t you think? Sometimes it really amazes me that people don’t pay attention to their vital information!
These are really some great tips, Candace. The only thing I disagree with is not writing your own evaluation report. Although your leader SHOULD do it, there is one major problem that most people forget about. That problem is that most leaders do not know how to write effectively.
They aren’t authors, writers and most don’t have a true understanding about how one or two words on your report can make a huge difference between getting promoted and passed over.
You can be competent, self-motivated and damn good at what you do, but if your boss isn’t a good writer, you pay the price, not them.
That’s why I always wanted to write my own OER.
Just my two cents. Thanks again for the good post.
That is exactly my issue – yes, not everyone is a born writer, I agree. (But like I had said, if you do a good job on your support form, your evaluation is mostly written, so the meat of it should be there and be good.) My problem is with the fact that writing skills are not taught to senior leaders. This is not okay! We are in positions to have a huge effect on our subordinates’ career and progression. Leaders need to be writers, and the fact that this part gets glossed over is not okay by me. Why are they allowed to skate by and never learn the importance of this?
Candace, what happens if your rater just isn’t getting it done? Isn’t there a point where you just have to write it yourself to guarantee it gets completed? Who does an NCO go to if the writing job isn’t getting completed?
These are just a few questions that I figured you could answer. This does seem to be a touchy subject, and I must agree with you. These leaders should know how to write. Maybe I should offer a writing class–LOL
This post was very well written. I agree with NCO’s making sure they have accurate NCOers. It really amazes me that anyone would allow a form that can affect their career to get through without their knowing what all is on it. I had to giggle that a soldier would allow it to pass with a wrong SS#. I hope all NCOs see and heed this post.
Thanks Greg, it made me laugh too. These kinds of things are more common than we think! It isn’t hard to double check info and make sure the basics are covered.