Are you capturing what your Airmen are really doing for the Air Force when giving feedback and writing performance reports? Communicating well what Airmen do for the Air Force is the goal of military strategic writing.
“Good communication has always been vital to the efficiency of our military mission,” said Master Sgt. Dustin Withrow, 56th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. “Strategic writing is an essential tool used to provide a clear and concise perspective of a person regarding productivity and performance.”
A concern among senior leadership is that raters are not putting in the effort to accurately assess what their Airmen are doing for the Air Force, said Chief Master Sgt. John Craft, 56th Maintenance Group superintendent. Canned EPRs and generic bullets are becoming the norm.
“We can sometimes be intellectually lazy when it comes to writing,” he said. “We don’t take the time to truly evaluate what the person is doing.”
Craft, who has more than19 years of senior NCO experience, said it’s vitally important people are able to convey what truly sets great performers apart from the average ones in an EPR.
“When you’re trying to decide who is the best candidate to promote, many times the EPRs sound too similar,” Craft said. “Our writing has developed into this generic vanilla style where you hear the same key words, the same catch phrases and the same type of stats. When you come across a record that really conveys a message, it sets itself apart.”
One concern Craft has when reviewing EPRs is people misunderstand what different parts of a bullet mean.
“What we confuse a lot of times are results for impact, and they aren’t the same,” he said. “The impact is where they fit in in the big Air Force picture.”
Changes to the EPR system and promotion boards are making Airmen take a serious look at their writing skills.
“With the master sergeant promotion boards right around the corner, Airmen will be getting evaluated at a much earlier point in their careers,” Withrow said. ‘The “A1C EPR’ has much more significance now. Senior airmen and staff sergeants writing reports can’t afford to wait for Airman Leadership School to begin building these skills.”
The career assistance advisor and senior leadership are there to help Airmen grow their military writing skills.
“Take advantage of programs like Lighting Leadership, professional development courses, professional military education and the career assistance advisor,” Craft said. “Within the unit, the NCOs and Airmen can use their chiefs and senior NCOs as mentors.”