Commentary

July 27, 2012

Does the EPR need a bailout?

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

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? Should we bail out our EPR system?

We should rename the EPR system. We could change the name to Yearly Evaluation Report or YER? Years ago, we hoped a change from Airman Performance Report to EPR would do the trick. If it had, you would not be reading this. So maybe, that is not the answer. It is as though the name change worked for some, but the culture persisted.

Recently, the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, James Roy spoke during an assembly of Airmen, and inevitably, somebody brought up enlisted performance reports. Laughter spread throughout the audience and I wondered why. I figured that we were all thinking the same thing: Here we go again!

Why do we immediately go there with that question? I believe it is because we communicate our message ineffectively.

It is easy to communicate orders to your people on what to do and how to do it. The pitfall is when communicating in this manner, we neglect the most important part — why we need them to do it.

Author Simon Sinek stated this is why we fail as communicators and why our messages fail at getting through to the receiver. Sinek theorized that great organizations communicate by focusing on why and placed less emphasis on the “what and how.”

Think about everything we have been taught about the enlisted evaluation system. It states in Air Force Instruction 36-2406, “Officer and Enlisted Evaluation Systems,” and explains what we are supposed to do. We should be conducting initial, midterm and follow up feedback sessions.

We send Senior Airmen to Leadership School to learn how to become effective leaders. We teach them to sit at a 45-degree angle, ask open-ended questions and set standards and expectations.

This process is failing in our organizations. We continue to communicate incorrectly by focusing on what and how and not why?

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

Here’s why:

When I arrived at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, my new supervisor was Tech. Sgt. Christy Jones. She changed my life by giving me an initial feedback. I did not just passively sign the form, but instead, was carried through standards and expectations.  Jones actually 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 stood out most was why we had the feedback session. She said, “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 decided to get my act together. I accomplished a 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 her 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 and having earned a five, I did not need an EPR to tell me I was truly among the best, I felt it in my heart. The journey taught me more than a piece of paper ever could, the EPR just served as my epilogue.

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

When we ask an Airman if they’ve gotten all their feedback sessions, why are we  surprised when the answer is yes? If we change our culture, we should be surprised if the answer to the question is no. Who knows, maybe one day we won’t need to ask.
This is why feedbacks matter. This is why our EPRs matter.




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


 
 

 

Additional FY14 civilian workforce shaping now parallel with military programs

Air Force officials announced additional civilian workforce shaping initiatives March 26 in compliance with mandatory funding targets and continuing civilian workforce rebalance to meet skill demands for fiscal 2014 and beyond. The programs will run in parallel with military programs, said Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel...
 
 
MOMC_Hor

Online School—A Choice for Military Families

Cyber school, virtual school, digital learning, whatever you call it, this growing educational choice simply works for thousands of California families. According to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACO...
 
 
Untitled-1

Five reasons it’s awesome to be a woman in the Air Force

As a woman myself, I may be biased, but there are numerous reasons why it’s awesome to be a woman, definitely one that serves her country. In honor of National Women’s History Month, here are five reasons why it is awesome ...
 

 

We are all YOU-nique!

My mom is a fabulous artist. She creates such absolutely beautiful paintings and drawings. One of my favorite sketches of hers is a rose that she quickly just threw together on paper. In what seemed like a matter of seconds, she created this gorgeous rose that I couldn’t have drawn if my life depended on...
 
 

Fitness training anyone can afford

It is fairly common for a mountain of excuses to stand between people and their fitness goals. Among the most common excuses for postponing exercise are the lack of time, lack of money or both. If you are one of the many people thinking that fitness is just out of reach because you don’t have...
 
 
Robert-Carter

Know the facts – Black History Month 2014

Robert L. Carter (1917-2012) This year, America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, one of the greatest legislative accomplishments of the twentieth century. The Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination o...
 




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