Commentary

June 28, 2012

Does the EPR need a bailout?

Commentary by Tech. Sgt. Kitsana R. Dounglomchan
39th Force Support Squadron

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFNS) — What do enlisted performance reports, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have in common? They suffer from bad brand name recognition. So, what should we do? Bailout our EPR system?

We could rename the EPR. How about Yearly Evaluation Report or YER? A name change has worked for some, but then again the culture still persisted. Years ago we hoped a change from Airman Performance Report to EPR would do the trick. If it had, you wouldn’t be reading this commentary. So maybe that’s not the answer.

I recently heard Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy speak, and inevitably somebody brought up enlisted performance reports. Laughter spread throughout the audience. I wondered why. I reasoned we were all thinking the same thing: Here we go again!

Why do we immediately go there? I believe it’s because we communicate our message ineffectively.

It’s easier to communicate what you want your people to do and how you want them to do it. The pitfall is when we communicate in this manner, we neglect the most important part — why we need them to do it.

Author Simon Sinek believes this is why messages fail to stick. Sinek said great organizations communicate by focusing on why. What and how are irrelevant if you fail to communicate why.

Think about everything we’ve been taught about the enlisted evaluation system. It states in Air Force Instruction 36-2406, “Officer and Enlisted Evaluation Systems” what we are supposed to do. We are to conduct an initial, midterm and follow up feedback. Great, this covers what. See a trend happening? Next, we send senior airmen off to Airman Leadership School to learn how. We teach them to sit at a 45-degree angle, ask open-ended questions and set standards and expectations. We’ve now covered how to give a feedback.

Do you see the problem yet? We’re making the same mistake as failed organizations. We’re communicating incorrectly. We’re focusing on what and how, but where is why?

Roy said the key to our evaluation system is the periodic performance feedback sessions. EPRs are capstones to feedback. Ok, but why?

Here’s why.

When I arrived at Incirlik Air Base my new supervisor was Tech. Sgt. Christy Jones. She changed my life by giving me a real initial feedback. I didn’t just passively sign a form. Instead, as she went through standards and expectations, she got to know me on a personal level so she could help me develop on a professional level. I remember a lot from that day, but what will stick with me the longest is why we had the feedback session. She told me, “Right now you’re a three. Every person I supervise starts with a clean slate. You will earn your rating.”

I saw my career flash before my eyes! I knew I had always performed like a four.

So, what did I do? After thinking that I would end my career as a staff sergeant with a four on my EPR, I got my act together. I accomplished my long overdue Community College of the Air Force degree, completed upgrade training and started projects around the base. Before I knew it, my midterm feedback was due. I felt my chest swell with pride as my supervisor looked me in the eyes and said, “I don’t know what has gotten into you, but you’ve exceeded all my standards.”

What got into me was a performance feedback! What got into me was a supervisor who wasn’t going to give me a five, but allow me to earn my rating. What got into me was a supervisor who held me to high standards through the feedback process.

At the end of last year, when I earned a five, I didn’t need an EPR. I knew in my heart I was truly among the best. The journey taught me more than a piece of paper ever could. The EPR just served as my epilogue. I had written each chapter throughout the year.

With harsh economic prospects on the horizon, we are going to continue shaping our Air Force. But, we will have to continue to fly, fight and win. The only way to achieve this is to start with feedbacks and develop our Airmen much faster than I was developed, than you were developed.

When we ask an Airman if they’ve gotten all their feedback sessions we are surprised when the answer is yes. We can change our culture, so when we ask that question we are surprised when the answer is no. Maybe one day we won’t even need to ask.

Reflect back on your own career. Maybe you haven’t had a supervisor like Sergeant Jones. How has your career been weakened by not having that NCO? How has your career changed as a result of having that NCO? Why can’t you be the NCO that changes your Airman’s career?

This is why feedbacks matter. This is why our EPRs matter.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Thanksgiving and our Native Americans

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On the fourth Thursday of every November, we as Americans celebrate the national holiday Thanksgiving. This day focuses on honoring the early settlers, and their harvest feast, which we know to be the “First Thanksgiving.” However, long before settlers came to the United States’ East Coast, the area was inhabited by...
 
 

Keep safety in mind when cooking Thanksgiving feasts

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries.  Every year hundreds of Americans die, thousands more are injured and roughly $500 million...
 
 

Resolutions aren’t just for the new year

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — It’s almost that time of year when most of us will commit to reforming a habit, lifestyle or just change our lives for the better. It starts when we take a critical look at ourselves and determine what we can do, or stop doing, to make the improvements we desire. These...
 

 

How did we lose this young Airman?

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) — She was an Airman Leadership School distinguished graduate, earned staff sergeant her first time testing, received all 5s on her enlisted performance reports and took part in two deployments. Clearly she was a high-performing Airman. But, in her words, the Air Force had made it clear it didn’t...
 
 

Air Force Enlisted Village: Not just a place to live, a place to call home

I first visited the Air Force Enlisted Village as a young first sergeant in 2009, when I was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. I went to visit with the Tyndall Active Airmen’s Association, Tyndall’s E-1 to E-4 Professional Association, and was amazed at what I saw. This was also the first time I...
 
 

New EPR challenges status quo

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — The enlisted performance report is going to drastically change. These changes seek to combat inflated ratings, which have been a prevalent complaint from Airmen over the years. The change is right around the corner and many Airmen are asking themselves, “How will it affect future promotions, and what can I do...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin