Thoughts On The EPR System – Volunteering

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Around 2013-2014, the Air Force did a “revamp” on the Enlisted Performance Report (EPR). So, instead of being rated from 1 to 5, with one basically saying you are the worst Airman to 5 saying you’re amazing, the newer system rates you in actual promotion statements: Do Not Promote (1), Not Ready For Promotion (2), Promote (3), Must Promote (4), and Promote Now (5). The problem with rating people on a scale of 1 – 5 was that there were “too many 5s” in the enlisted force, and the new system was aimed to highlight those that were deserving of those Must Promote/Promote Now statements. Also, the Air Force implemented newer guidelines, where everyone of the same rank were “force distributed”, meaning commanders would huddle in a room to “rack and stack” the best of the best. While all of this is meant to alleviate some of the concerns about “too many people” getting firewall 5’s even when they truly don’t deserve it, this “updated” version of the EPR system has flaws on its own, and I realized that it doesn’t really matter what the Air Force does in attempt to “alleviate” the problem of awarding those who don’t deserve high remarks.

Job performatnce is what we should value most. It’s not that we don’t value volunteer work off-duty. All those things are wonderful, but when it comes to promoting people to serve in our AIr Force at senior grades, officer and enlisted, job performance is what should matter most.

Gen Mark Welsh

AFA Air Warfare Symposium (Feb 14)

The first flaw I’ve seen deals directly with the amount of volunteering Airmen are expected to do, and are doing. I was never a fan of volunteering during duty hours, even when I was an Airman. The reason being is because I knew that my primary duty in the Air Force is to be a medic. Nowhere in my contract did it say that “I must volunteer for X-amount of hours each month.” In fact, you learn that volunteering is another box to check for evaluations because the Air Force wants to ensure that their members are helping out the local community, and honestly keeping up a positive reputation & image for the civilian world. I encourage my Airmen to take part of an organization that they would love to volunteer so that they can satisfy the volunteering bit, and it wouldn’t be asking too much of them to do. I do let my Airmen participate in some events that occur during the duty hours, but its not often. Thats because they should know their job above anything else. Recently, one of my Airmen asked me if he could join the base Honor Guard, but I denied it because he’s still learning about his job… This is how I think the AIr Force should would, at least.

Now that I think of it, if an Airman is hardly ever in the office because they’re constantly volunteering during the duty, and they have no idea what they do in their career field, who is to blame? Thats right, the supervisor. Theoretically, an Airman should be asking their supervisor for permission to take the time off for these activities. If its not the supervisor, then its got to be someone in the chain of command that’s allowing Airmen to “get off the hook.” So, there’s some responsibility that lies on the surbordinate’s command when they have no idea what they’re doing. The only type of “grooming” that this type of chain of command is doing, is allowing someone to progress through the ranks without knowing what they’re really doing in the first place… Do you have any idea how terrifying that is? We would be promoting people who doesn’t have an ounce of knowledge for their job, but expect them to teach and mold the newer generation. Oh, and the people who have the same mentality as me and don’t volunteer during duty hours, are the ones that end up getting the blunt end of the stick. Someone has to pick up the slack for the people who are missing, and of course, they aren’t seen as favorable because they’re at work. Its definitely a backwards mentality.

I don’t understand how the former Chief of Staff of the Air Force has publicly stated multiple times that the Air Force will be shifting it’s gears and attitude about volunteering. We really shouldn’t be focusing on public image when we can’t even handle our own jobs. Leadership should hammer down on Airmen whose EPRs are nothing but volunteering because that’s not what we are here for…

 

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