Monday, January 28, 2013

Writing your sailors EVALs

If you're a division officer, it's always EVAL writing time for somebody in your division. And, if you have a large division, this can be quite daunting. So, how do you write good EVALs for your sailors and ensure they are fairly ranked?

As I sit here finishing my own sailors E5 EVALs, let me give you some advice I've learned over the past few years.


EVALs and FITREPs are governed by BUPERSINST 1610.10C, which is located here:

Start off every EVAL writing session by breezing through the instruction. There are a LOT of myths out there about EVAL writing and what can/can't go in the fields. Do not rely on gouge, use the Navy's instruction to find the answer.


For E1-E6 EVALs, read the E-7 board precepts, located here:

Some of the precepts is fluff (standard EO statements, etc.), however, it outlines exactly what the board is looking for when it selects chiefs. For example:

- The precepts specifically looks for Navy Professional Military Education (PME) and Joint PME. Navy PME can be done online through NKO, and JPME (once you are an E6) can be done via distance through the Joint Forces Staff College.

- Communication skills, resourcefulness, leadership, teaching and upholding standards, and technical expertise is all called out specifically by name. You can easily ensure your EVAL bullets meet these by saying "Demonstrated superior communication skills by...." or "Displayed deck plate leadership when he..."

- One common misconception is volunteering. Contrary to popular belief in some circles, volunteering is NOT in the precepts. However, your junior sailors can use volunteering to display leadership, communication, etc. if their circumstances in the division prevent that (e.g. they are new and there aren't any division collaterals that are unassigned). So if you choose to include volunteering, use phrases like "Demonstrated exceptional communication skills as the spokesman for the local Red Cross unit during it's annual blood drive."


If you can't measure your EVAL bullet, then don't include it. Fluff is not looked upon fondly. Some bad phrases:

- Greatly contributed to morale (was he the division jokester?)
- Contributed to mission success by implementing X (OK...was X required? Did X lower processing time by 50%? Did X reduce the time it takes to shoot a TLAM?)
- Wears his uniform with pride (lame! Does this imply your other sailors wear rags and mope around while at work?)

Remember that bullets must stand on their own, so that selection board members that aren't in your rating can understand them. A good rule of thumb is that if there isn't a number beside it, you should reconsider why that bullet is in there in the first place.


Some parts of the EVAL are supposed to look the same: command address, reporting senior, block 28, etc. Make sure they are. Nothing pisses department heads off more then having to correct silly errors that should have been simple exercises in copy/paste.


EVALs, like FITREPs, are for more than just promotion. They can be screened for special projects or used as proof of prior achievements. Make sure you don't leave out easy things. For example, did you fill up Block 44 (Qualifications/Achievements)? Even if it's something as simple as a standard watch station, be sure to put it on there so that your sailors can easily get credit for every single accomplishment.


If you have problems with your sailor, the EVAL is NOT the place to settle it. That's what a counseling sheet is for. EVALs determine whether the member is ready for promotion or not. Period. Unless the 1610 requires you to mark a 1 or a 2, you must make sure you have documented proof of a problem before you mark that low a  trait on one of your sailors.


Use a thesaurus, since no one wants to read the same three adjectives constantly. However, be careful. Although "superior" has lots of synonyms on, "capital" is probably not one you would use to describe a trait. Be sure to use your dictionary as well!


Review the past EVALs, so that you can ensure your sailors are making forward progression (or not if they are terrible performers). Think also about what they need now, and potentially in the future (i.e. fill in Block 41 appropriately).


Come up with a scale for rankings and stick to it. Assign actual point values, add it up, and rank everyone. Then, mix up your stack and rank them again. Your ranking may be affected by how good or bad a previous EVAL was during your review, so mixing up the order ensures you don't overlook someone. Also, have a fellow JO rank your sailors. Get that outsider perspective to prevent you from overlooking the quiet and not-so-obvious performers in your division.

Feel free to add more in the comments!