For some strange reason many NCOs struggle with the NCOER process. I’m not sure if it’s because they don’t understand the process, they aren’t trained properly, or they don’t manage their time wisely when it comes to NCOERs.
If you want to be smart about your career, you need educate yourself about the NCOER process. More importantly, you need to be proactive throughout the entire process so you can get the best and most accurate NCOER possible. In order to do that, I want to share some helpful tips about NCOERs.
Tip # 1: Make Sure You Do Your Written Counseling During the Rating Period
When it comes to writing NCOERs, you need to make sure that you do your counseling during the rating period. I’m talking about formal, written counseling, not verbal counseling. When you do written counseling, you will have documentation that you can refer to when you are writing the NCOER. These are specific accomplishments that you can put on the NCOERs. Assuming you did your initial counseling, plus the required quarterly counseling, you should have plenty of achievements to write an accurate and detailed NCOER.
Tip # 2: Let Your NCO Write Their Own NCOER
One of the best things you can do is let your subordinate write the first draft of their own NCOER. Tell them you want them to put together their own NCOER. Give them specific advice about making the NCOER as detailed and objective as they can. Have them write down their achievements during the rating period. Most NCOs will be HAPPY to do this. Also, this saves you time. You can take their first draft NCOER and add your magic touch to it and be done in no time. I always had my subordinates write the first draft of their NCOER. They appreciated me letting them do this and it saved me a lot of time. In most cases, the NCOER they gave me was probably an 80 to 90% solution.
Tip # 3: Make Sure Every Bullet Point is Specific and Quantifiable
You want every bullet point on the NCOER to be specific. Do not use standard, generic bullet points. That is what most other supervisors are doing. I personally believe that doing that is a huge disservice to your subordinates. Make sure every single bullet (3 per section) is a specific achievement. Even if they are a bad or average NCO, you should still use specific examples that are quantifiable. Here are a few examples:
- Graduated Warrior Leader Course during rating period
- Scored a 290 on the APFT
- Instructed 3 NCODP Courses during the rating period
- Received AAM and ARCOM during rating period
- Selected as NCO of the Month in January
- Completed 9 credit hours of college classes from local community college
- Completed 24 credits worth of correspondence courses
- Received “Commendable” rating during command inspection
- Failed the APFT
These are specific achievements and they are much better than the standard, generic NCOER Bullets.
Tip # 4: Do It At Least 30 Days Before It is Due
Don’t procrastinate with your own NCOER or with one of your subordinates’ NCOERs. Make it a point to prepare the first draft at least 30 days before it is due. That gives you adequate time to review it, think about what was written and make any required changes. If you wait until the last minute you will feel rushed and produce a sloppy product.
Tip # 5: After You Finish the Final Draft of the NCOER, Put It Aside for a Few Days
Good writers rarely create a “quality product” the first time around. In fact, most manuscripts have been edited several times before they become “publisher” worthy. The same holds true with a good NCOER. Never write the first draft and finalized version of a NCOER on the same day. Put it aside for a few days. That way when you pick it up again you will have fresh insights. This will help you create a quality product.
Tip # 6: Let Soldiers Review It and Make Suggestions Before Everyone Signs It
Some people might disagree with this tip, but I think it has its merits. Let your Soldiers review their NCOER a few DAYS before it has to be turned in. Let them address any open issues they have with you. Ask them to give you any suggestions about something you might have wrong, or might have missed. This simple step can make a world of difference for both the rater and the rated Soldier.
Tip # 7: Every Month Keep Track of ALL of Your Accomplishments
At the end of every drill weekend, take 10 minutes and write down ALL of your accomplishments for the weekend. Include major accomplishment and minor things. Type it up or handwrite it and file it away for future reference. Most of these accomplishments will be bullet points on your NCOER. Teach your subordinates to do the same thing each drill weekend. You would be absolutely amazed at how much you accomplish during a rating period, but forget about because you didn’t write it down.
Here are a few examples of what you might write down after a drill weekend:
- Conducted a 100% inventory on all section equipment
- Scored a 256 on the APFT
- Instructed one NCODP Class to the entire company
- Helped one Soldier get promoted
- Did initial counseling with two Soldiers and follow up counseling with another Soldier
Once again, these might not sound like major accomplishments. But if you add up all your accomplishments throughout the rating period, you will be surprised at what you did accomplish.
Tip # 8: Gives NCOPD During the Year to Educate People About NCOERs
One of the best ways to teach your subordinates is through an effective NCODP Program. Even if you only have one or two people working directly for you, you should teach a class or two on the NCOER Process. This will be very beneficial to everyone involved. If you are in charge of large section, make sure everyone gets to attend the training.
Tip # 9: Read the Regulations to Educate Yourself
One of the best ways to learn about NCOERs is to simply educate yourself about the rules, regulations and procedures. Do yourself a favor and print out the pertinent regulations and READ them. I know it won’t be exciting or easy to do, but it will be time well invested. Consider it a small investment in your own career. Add these regulations to your leader’s library so you can refer to them when needed.
Here are a few regulations I recommend you read:
# 1 AR 623-3
# 2 AR 623-205
# 3 DA PAM 623-205
Tip # 10: Be Involved
As a leader, you need to be involved throughout the entire NCOER process. This includes your own NCOER and your subordinates’ NCOERs. Have a few conversations with your rater ahead of time. Let them know when your NCOER is due. Make sure they are counseling you like they should. Make sure they have a copy of your accomplishments and your first draft of your NCOER. Don’t wait until the last minute when your NCOER is due. Be proactive and stay on top of things.
When it comes to your subordinates, talk with them ahead of time about their NCOER. Teach them how to be involved. Teach them the tips I shared in this chapter so they can actively manage their own career and one day teach their subordinates how to do it.
The NCOER process does not have to be confusing or difficult. Your key to success is to educate yourself and be proactive. Take responsibility and manage your own career. Be involved throughout the entire process, document everything and you should get the NCOER you deserve.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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