Presentation on theme: "A Note from the AF MLR Staff"— Presentation transcript:
1A Note from the AF MLR Staff 3 Dec 01Greetings!This note is to anyone who plans to use this briefing. It was designed by the AF MLR staff in concert with Officer Promotions, the Board Secretariat, and Officer Evaluations. We also thank HQ PACAF/DP for their great input to this brief!Please feel free to use this brief as needed. Note that we were EXTREMELY CAREFUL throughout the brief to qualify all examples as ONLY EXAMPLES. It is important to remind raters and others that all examples in this brief are designed to stimulate their creativity and help see what can work.This briefing will be regularly updated on the web at in the Evaluation/MLR page. Please make sure you have downloaded your copy from there to ensure you have the latest word on effective OPR and PRF writing.We welcome any input you might have in improving this product. Please your comments toThanks!
2Writing Effective OPRs and PRFs Ice breaker:Good morning, I’m Capt Joel Elsbury, Chief of Air Force Management Level Review. And when it comes to writing effective OPRs and PRFs, we can never explain ourselves too many times!So I thank you for this opportunity you’ve given me to come and discuss with you what I consider one of the most important subjects for officers today.While I have slides designed to keep me on track, I hope this next hour will be less “briefing” and more “discussing.” As you have questions, and comments, please don’t save them for the end! Any questions I can’t answer today, I promise, I will do my best to research and get back to you as quickly as possible.Capt Joel J. ElsburyChief, AF Management Level ReviewHQ Air Force Personnel CenterDSN
3Overview What makes a record competitive? Promotions environmentWhole person assessment (what board sees)Link between OPRs and PRFsMechanics of writing effective OPRsExamplesBoard Member Feedback“Survival Guide”In order to discuss effective OPRs and PRFs, we first need to consider what is it that makes a record stand out in today's highly competitive promotions environment. We'll look at those aspects of records that promotion boards consider when evaluating “promotion potential.”We'll then talk about the mechanics of writing effective OPRs and PRFs and throughout the discussion, we will look at a few examples of bullets.Then we’ll look at some specific board feedback from recent boards.After that, I’ve prepared a short “survival guide” for those officers who will meet a board any time in the future.
4Disclaimer A word of caution!! Today’s “GREAT EXAMPLE” could be tomorrow’s worn out phraseNo single phrase or bullet has ever gotten an officer promotedAll examples are designed to stimulate your creative writingBut first a word of caution on all the examples you will see today!It’s very difficult to give “perfect examples” of effective OPR and PRF bullets. Today’s “awesome bullet” stands the very likely odds of catching on, getting over used, and becoming tomorrow’s worn out phrase.The examples I will show today are intended to get your creative juices flowing.
5Promotion Environment The simple fact is: promotion quota runs out before the quality of officers runs outCompetition in today’s promotionenvironment is very intenseSo let’s start with the Promotion Environment.The Air Force has an officer corps of very talented, dedicated individuals. Not all officers qualified for promotion can be promoted--there simply are not enough quotas.The promotions environment today is intensely competitive.
6What Boards See Performance Leadership Stratification Support POTENTIALHaving said that, let’s take a look at officer records through the eyes of the board.What do the boards see when they review records? Here’s the short list:PerformanceLeadershipStratificationSupportPOTENTIALNow let’s take a look at these perspectives one at a time
7What Boards See: Performance Performance as documented on PRF/OPRFact: extraordinarily difficult to discern much differenceExceptions: combat, significant contingenciesFunctional/unit awards recognition; DGBullets are important to extent they influence AND support stratification/recommendations!They see performance. But they can only see it if it’s documented in the PRF or OPR. Of course at the board, they also have a duty SURF and decorations available, but they will be concentrating on the OPR and PRF.It is extraordinarily difficult to discern much difference here. With 1,000s of bullets to look at, board members focus in on those bullets that influence and support your stratification and recommendations.So what do these magic bullets look like? Hold that thought! We’ll get into that in just a minute.
8What Boards See: Leadership Job titles/duty descriptions are very importantConvey progression in career fieldConvey scope/level of responsibilityShow evidence of successful leadership testNext the board is looking to find examples of LEADERSHIP. This is especially critical in the Lt Col and Col ranks, when the board is searching for officers who will become our next squadron and group commanders.Here is where duty titles and descriptions become VERY important. They MUST show progression, scope/level of responsibility, and evidence of leadership tests already past.INSIGHT: absent distinctive achievement, job title/duty description can be impact discriminator
9What Boards See: Stratification Stratification: Relative rating of officers’ levels of stratification emergingTop: My #1 of 12…Finest officer I’ve ever known...2d Level: Top 10% (…in the wing)3d Level: One of my best...Lowest level: Outstanding, Superior, etc.Here’s my first slide that shows that all important “EXAMPLE.” And I can’t over emphasize the importance of this.Stratification is the quickest way to tell the board where an officer stands. We now recognize four “tiers” or levels of stratification: Top, 2nd, 3rd, Lowest.The first level gives an exact picture of where the officer stands amongst his/her peers and helps the board “see” the size of the pool of comparison.The second level stratification makes it hard to see how big the pool is, and puts the officer a bit further down the “food chain” then the 1st level example.Remember, stratification, like the promotion recommendation itself, MUST be supported by the rest of the record! Also, it’s important for you to use the full spectrum of stratification. Not everyone can be your Number 1.Also, remember that you must always be careful to “qualify” any stratification into your scope of experience, or back the claim with proof. Unless an officer has won an AF level award, it’s difficult for a wing commander to say he’s the “best in the AF.”INSIGHT: stratification, used full spectrum; very useful message to promotion boards
10What Boards See: Support PME/Job Recommendations convey potential (on OPRs AND PRF )Reinforce stratification: CC vice Ops OfficerOwnership/enthusiasm convey conviction“My #1 pick for command!” vice “Ready for Command”Less push/less convictionAnd what do I mean by “support?” This is leading into the “Potential.” These are the “recommendations” or “pushes” for future jobs and PME. They are critical. If you aren’t excited about the officer’s future, why should the board be?Recommendations also reinforce stratification. If you’re saying the officer is your number one, you should be pushing him or her for the most responsibility available.Ownership and enthusiasm are key to conveying your conviction.INSIGHT: while Ownership/Enthusiasm can enhance, PME and job pushes add differentiation!
11What Boards See: Potential Remember, a promotion isn’t a reward for past hard work, but a bet on future potentialExamples:Major BPZ to Lt Col, nothing but schoolOfficer who’d shown amazing pilot abilityWhat are officers doing now to show they are ready to take on more responsibility?All of these things together add up to one thing: POTENTIAL.Remember, a promotion isn’t a reward for past hard work, but a bet on future potentialHere are some examples of what I mean. While the whole record is important, what the officer is doing now, must show he/she is ready for the next step.
12Link between OPRs and PRFs PRFs are Senior Rater’s direct communication to Central BoardPRFs are largely based on contents of OPRs (strong OPRs = strong PRF)“DP” cannot overcome weak recordMessage conveyed needs to show officer’s track record relative to “Order of Merit”Now, let’s look at the link between OPRs and PRFsOPRs portray the professional track record of officers. They are the basis of what senior raters use to write PRFs. Board members use the OPRs and PRF to assess records, and thus come up with an order of merit listing.The track record that is formed over the officer's years of service should show how raters have assessed that officer in terms of order of merit. In other words, if the officer has won significant competitive awards, has consistently been described as "my #1," or other distinguishing comments, then the promotion board's job becomes easier.INSIGHT: the PRF…SR’s 30-second briefing to the board on your officer’s promotion potential!
13Writing Effective OPRs/PRFs Need to consider:CONTENT is paramountStyle sells the messageBoth contribute to the picture you’re painting of the officer being evaluatedSo now the $64 question, the one most of you have come today in hopes of finding an answer. How do we write OPRs and PRFs that effectively communicate all this information to the board.In writing effective OPRs, both content, or the facts that are included in the OPR, and style, or how the facts are presented, need to be discussed. Content absolutely cannot be overemphasized.Content and style work together to portray the picture of the officer being evaluated.INSIGHT: limited board time places premium on making the important points easy to see!
14OPR/PRF ContentBe especially careful of those in critical jobs, e.g., Sq/Flt commandersRepeat performances diminish in valueReview previous year’s reportLeadership vs. supervisionTechnician vs. whole personRecommendations -- school, future assignmentsLet's first consider content of the OPR.Raters need to be especially careful to adequately describe the success of officers in key billets. Opportunities that are considered real leadership tests--like serving as flight or squadron commanders--are key points in a person's career and if an officer serves with distinction, that needs to be clearly stated.If an officer serves in a position long enough to receive more than one OPR in that job, then the rater should review the previous year's report to ensure the OPRs don't sound identical.Additionally, officers who are not supervisors, but who serve as either informal leaders in the unit or have served as project leaders, need to have their leadership abilities documented in their OPRs.While technical skills need to be documented, the board is evaluating whole person characteristics. Thus, officership and leadership need to be documented as well.Finally, recommendations for school and next assignment can convey powerful messages to the board and need to be used appropriately.
15OPR/PRF Content Everything is measurable in terms of: Quality - best, most successful, top %Quantity - scope of effort and effectTime - hours saved, ahead of scheduleCost - man-hours, $$, resourcesRaters need to remember that every achievement is measurable in terms of quality, quantity, time or cost.The central selection board is charged with scoring records and coming up with an order of merit. They can best discharge their duties when a track record establishing the officers ranking among their peers is reflected in the record.How does the officer’s performance compareto that of his/her peers?To that of previous incumbents in his/her position?
16Writing Style Don’t write in functional language Write the bottom line(s) firstStructure must be easy to understandwhat-how-impactActive voice--who did what to whomDon’t fall victim to “pride of authorship”Avoid wide open spaces, watch punctuationCredibilityNow let's turn to writing style.First, don't write in a language only a few understand. Not many recognize the significance of the Gerrit D. Foster Award, but everyone can understand earning the AF's top MPF award.Second, write the last indorsement first. Identify the biggest achievements there.Write in a structure that's easy to follow and understand, and write in the active voice.Let others who would have access to the OPR read your draft--and then use their feedback.Leaving blank areas on an OPR can send an unintentional message. Conversely, proper punctuation helps ensure the message you want to convey gets across.A rater at base level can't say that an officer is best in the AF unless the officer has been so designated through an award or by an AF level official. Also, not every officer at base X can be #1.
17Writing StyleClearly say what was notable about an officer’s achievements“Outstanding member of a tiger team” could be said about any member of any rank or level of expertiseNeed to point out what the member did that was outstandingAfter each bullet, ask yourself, “so what?”If seemingly anyone could have done it, then it’s not a notable achievementMake sure you clearly state what was significant about an achievement.Here's an example of a statement that could appear on an OPR. Even though the individual was outstanding on the tiger team, that is not a significant statement. What the individual did to contribute to the tiger team's success needs to be included.
18Writing Style Need to clearly state recommendation for next Job “Challenge him with the toughest jobs”“Make him a squadron commander”“My #1 pick for squadron command”Finally, when writing a recommendation for the officer's next job, here are three examples of recommendations. Each recommendation is progressively stronger, with the final statement being the best.Again, remember that not every officer can be your #1 pick. Those statements are powerful only if used judiciously.
19OPR “Red Zone”You’ve probably heard that there are four “critical” lines on an OPR. If that is true, here they are! These for lines represent the “red zone.” They are the first four lines most board members are going to go, in search of your overall assessment of your officers. Here is where you want to put your strongest impressions and recommendations.
20OPR “Red Zone” Last lines 1st lines Opinions: “Capt Jones nails jello to the wall”Stratification: “My number 2 of 40”Last linesFinal thoughtsJob recommendationsPME pushOne successful pattern is to use the top lines as your opinion lines: “Capt Jones can nail jello to the wall without making it wiggle.” This is also a great place to add stratification: “My number two of 40 awesome company grade officers!”Likewise, the bottom lines, are where you should include “final thoughts, Job recommendations, and PME push.”Putting this critical information into the “red zone” ensures board members won’t have to “go in search of” in their effort to rack and stack your officers.Remember, this information is your opinion. If the rest of the bullets don’t qualify your impressions, all the “style” in the world won’t help.
21ExamplesGood:Inspired FSC to new heights of achievement--oversaw doubling of families enrolled in Respite Care ProgramBetter:Built AF’s largest Respite Care Program for families with severe medical problems, featured in AF Aid magazine as the AF model!Now let's look at some specific examples of items that could appear in OPRs.The first is written in the active voice and quantifies the achievement. The second, however, also compares that achievement with what similar organizations in the AF were doing and thus is stronger. It also more fully describes the respite care program, so that those unfamiliar with it can better understand the message.Finally, it shows ENTHUSIASM!
22ExamplesGood:Spearheaded outstanding customer service initiatives which were briefed to the 3-star(What was the 3-star’s reaction?)Better:We briefed her outstanding customer service initiatives to the 3-star--his reaction, “Right On!”Here's another example. The fact that the customer service initiatives were so significant that they were briefed to the three star is good. However, what isn't mentioned is the 3 stars reaction. The second bullet is better since it gives that information.
23ExamplesGood:Saw the need and developed computer program which saved 25 hours of manual effort and greatly increased unit efficiencyBetter:Computer program he designed saved 25 hrs monthly, decreased errors to 1%--MAJCOM made it the cmd standardHere is another example.When a rater can quantify levels of efficiency, that needs to be done. Also, when AF or a MAJCOM takes an initiative and in some way shares it with like units throughout either the AF or the command, that needs to be included in the OPR
24ExamplesGood:Integrated 211 KC-10/KC-135 air refueling events off-loading 11.8 million pounds of fuel to 567 receiversBetter:Integrated record number of refueling events--211 missions, 11.8M lbs of fuel to 567 receivers--huge success!Here is another example which also quantifies level of efficiency. The second version shows what was notable about the achievement--not only was it a record number of events, but it was a huge success. The rater mentioned the achievement because it was distinctive and the second version tells why it was distinctive. And that’s what board members need to know.
25Board Member FeedbackPRFs capture entire career...not just current job“DP” won’t overcome weak recordStratification most powerful toolHighlight individual awards (CGO/yr, PMOYA)PRF sets tone of whole record—Enthusiasm!Use “my next DP,” but be judiciousUse of “challenge” and “greater responsibility” not impressiveHelp civilians/sister service with writing!To wrap up this section of the workshop, I’d like to offer you some feedback from some members of our recent promotion boards.
26A Few Examples SQ/CC was spot on! GP/CC Next! I want XXX to command a sq in my wing!Equation is simple: problem + XXX = solution!Read carefully: 9 OPRs say she’s #1!#1 promote! Ready for Lt Col now…I’d stake my reputation on him! DP now and SSS!Broke the code on making things happen--…I depend on XXX so much, when he sneezes, I get a coldAnd now the slide you’ve all come here to see! What were SOME of the bullets that caught the eyes of the board?REMEMBER now that these bullets are “advertised,” they stand a HIGH LIKELYHOOD of becoming quickly overused. These are intended stimulate your creative juices, and give you an idea of where you can go with your PRFs and OPRsAlso, without the facts to back these up, these bullets won’t take an officer very far!
27OPR Writing Tips Mechanics…bullets, emphasis on results/impact Put strongest on back--make it stand out!Assess and stratify…be judicious, consistentSupport with appropriate job/PME pushReview job title/descriptionsProgression, scope/level of responsibility
28PRF Writing Tips Same as OPR, emphasis on results/ impact One line, hard-hitting bullets are bestBalance…2-3 bullets should be in current jobChronological PRFs easiest to followEnsure PRF word picture is accurateAssess, stratify, support judiciously and consistently!INSIGHT: the PRF…SR’s 30-second briefing to the board on your officer’s promotion potential!
29Final Thoughts for Writers BE JUDICIOUS, HONEST!Assess your officers independent of board schedulesKnow the top, 2nd, 3rd level rankingsReview entire record when doing OPRs, PRFsAt least, know what you said last year!Know Professional Development needsAnd now some final thoughts for you writers out there. These are all things that we’ve discussed today, but I wanted you to see them one last time.The foot stomper here is, please, don’t become one of the hundreds of appeals we see each year where a rater has to admit, “I didn’t know I could do that.”INSIGHT: don’t be among the hundreds of “I didn’t know/realize” appeals we review every year!
30Eligible Officer Survival Guide It’s our program, but it’s your career!Know the rules of engagementKnow your promotion zoneReview your OPB and AF recordsStay involved until it’s rightGive inputs to OPR/PRFDon’t wait until the promotion cycle to actKnow the milestonesNow let’s take a few minutes to discuss how you as an individual meeting a board can assure your own success.Always remember, it’s our program, but it’s your career. If you don’t care enough to get actively engaged before it’s too late, then there won’t be much the system can do to ensure your success. Here’s a list of things you can do to ensure all your ducks are in a row when it’s time for your promotion board:
31Know Rules of Engagement Learn how MLRs and promotion boards workWeb sitesAFISr Rater GuideKnow your career pathDon’t be caught by surpriseAn understanding of the rules of engagement is your key to ensuring you’ve done all you can to prepare for promotion. Information on how the MLR and Promotion Boards work is available at the evaluation and officer promotion pages of the AFPC web site. Paragraph 8 of AFI covers the MLR process in detail. Each career field has a optimal career path pyramid. Get with your functional community and know that information.Don’t be one of the officers who comes to us after a promotion cycle saying, “I didn’t know I should have….”
32Know Your Promotion Zone DOR Chart on the WebOPBsPRFsRecords reviewsLess than 100 days from OPB to Central BoardThe best way not to be caught by surprise is to know your promotion zone. This will help you to be watching for things like OPBs and PRFs. If you wait for a RIP to tell you your in a promotion cycle, you might find yourself running out of time
33Review OPB and Records OPB: Don’t ignore this important document Don’t remain confusedGet help!AF Records (they aren’t at your base!)Two ways to reviewRequest fax DSNPermissive TDY to AFPCWhen your Officer Performance Report comes, make sure you review it. If something is confusing, don’t remain confused. Find out what it means. One of the things you’re asked to do when you get your notification is review your records. THIS IS NOT YOUR UPRG! Never assume that because your base level ROP is current that the AF level record is too.You have two options to review your AF records. You can request a faxed copy of your records by calling DSN / Or, you can come to AFPC on Permissive TDY.
34Stay Involved Until It’s Right Don’t assume pointing it out, means it’s fixedFollow-upMany resourcesMPFMAJCOMAFPCThink of it as a leadership exerciseIf you find errors in your records, stay involved until you KNOW they’re fixed. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.You might have to track your errors with many agencies. Consider this a leadership exercise. Think about it, if you can’t get your own records corrected, why would you want to be in charge of a whole flight or squadron’s worth of potential records problems??
35Give Inputs to OPR/PRF Don’t sell yourself short Nobody knows your hard work better than youGive “final draft” inputPRF Review (don’t blow it off)When you’re asked to give input to your OPR or PRF, DON’T sell yourself short. If you aren’t asked, ask! You’re inputs should be written in the way you want to see your Final Draft OPR or PRF to look. Remember. You’ve seen this brief, many of your supervisors might not have!By regulation, you must receive a copy of your PRF around 30 days prior to the Central Board. This gives you time to catch and fix errors. Don’t blow that off. It’s MUCH easier to get it fixed before the board than to appeal it after the board.
36Don’t wait for Promotion Cycle Regular records reviewsEvery time you moveAt very least, keep UPRG ROP up-to-datePrevent “avalanche”Remember: less than 100 days (60 for MLRs)Why put off till your promotion cycle what you can fix right now? Is your record accurate today? When was the last time you checked?Regular records reviews help ensure you are ALWAYS ready for a promotion cycle. In today’s AF, that’s important. Frequently the “Promotion Plan” changes, sometimes with less than 6 months warning.A good idea is to check your records after every move or job change. Make sure your duty titles are right in the system. Check to see your OPRs were added to your ROP. Make sure degrees, PME, and certifications are updated within days of graduation. This will ultimately prevent you from having to dig out from an “avalanche” of errors in the “final hour.”
37Letters to the Board Can be VERY useful Can be VERY detrimental Be short and to the pointJust the factsKnow the ROEsDon’t get emotionalFinally, a quick word on letters to the board or MLR. You have the right to write! But use it with care. Letters to the board or MLR should be short and to the point. They should be used to point out FACTS without emotional narratives. A good example would be to inform the board of a certification that is not in your records.
38“Take Aways” POTENTIAL Officers don’t meet promotion boards Records do It doesn’t matter how good an officer is if the records don’t convey the message accurately and enthusiastically!In closing, I’d like to offer a few “take aways.” That is, if you remember nothing else from today’s discussion, remember these final thoughts:Officers don’t meet promotion boards. Records do. It doesn’t matter how good Maj X is if her records don’t convey that message accurately and enthusiastically.And finally, can the board see the officer’s potential? If not, they will not be likely to award a promotion. Why? Because we will always run out of promotions before we run out of great officers.