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.