First, a good resource here: Enlisted Advancement Explained.
To properly write an EVAL, you need to understand how enlisted promotion works...something too many officers don't understand. For E1-E3, promotion is fairly automatic (E1->E2 and E2->E3 is 9 months for each). There are a lot of ways personnel in boot camp can get a leg up (meaning they don't start at E1), check out this website for details. If you are a division officer, the biggest thing you need to ensure is that any personnel that are doing a good job be marked at least promotable on their EVALs in order to progress.
Once one reaches E3, promotion to E4 requires that the sailor take an exam. Promotion to E4 will depend on the sailor having more points than a cutoff for his or her group. These points are based on:
- How well the sailor performed on the advancement exam
- Points due to personal awards
- Performance Mark Average (PMA) points from having a Promotable, Must Promote, or Early Promote
Advancement exams have a mix of questions from the sailors specialty as well as questions from Navy Basic Military Requirements. Your sailors should be studying their respective Advancement In Rate training on a routine basis...waiting for the exam to come is a surefire way to ensure you AREN'T prepared in time.
Awards points are given in BUPERSINST 1430.16F. I listed the common ones below:
Navy and Marine Corps Medal: 3 points
Bronze Star Medal: 3 points
Purple Heart: 3 points
Air Medal (Strike/Flight): 3 points
Joint Service Commendation Medal: 3 pointsNavy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal: 3 points
Executive Letter of Commendation: 2 points (max 1)
Joint Service Achievement Medal: 2 pointsNavy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal: 2 points
Combat Action Ribbon: 2 points
Gold Life Saving Medal: 2 pointsGood Conduct Medal (Navy or Marine Corps): 2 points each (max 5)
Greater than 90 consecutive days of service in Iraq, Afghanistan or the horn of Africa, Kuwait, Guantanamo (GTMO), Joint Task Force 515 (USPACOM) or the Joint Force Special
Task Force-Philippines (USPACOM) (Service after 24 October 2001): 2 points
Letter of Commendation (Flag/Senior Executive Service): 1 point (max 2)
You MUST ensure these awards are in NDAWS, or else they will not count. Not getting awards routed promptly or entered in correctly can actually cost your sailors money due to lost promotions. Also, if an award arrives AFTER the fact, and the points would have made a difference, talk to your Education Services Officer (ESO) about getting a recalculation...we recently worked that for one sailor and he was backdated pay and a promotion to E6!
PMA points are a big deal. Marking a sailor as an Early Promote will darn near ensure that they are promoted. There is dangerous gouge floating around that "E3 EVALs don't matter" or "No one really reads E4 EVALs." THIS COULDN'T BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH! If you insist on marking all your E3s or E4s as Promotable, you may well doom them to not promote.
The number of sailors you can mark as Must Promote and Early Promote is controlled by BUPERSINST 1610.10C. For Early Promote, you cannot mark more than 20 percent of the group, rounded up. For Must Promote, the combined total of Early Promote and Must Promote cannot exceed the following limits:
W2 - no limit
W3-W5 - 50%
O3 - 60%
O4 - 50%
O5 and O6 - 40%
E1-E4 - No limit
E5-E6 - 60%
E7-E9 - 50%
So what does "no limit" mean? It means you essentially have unlimited Must Promotes. It is NOT a license to give everyone a Must Promote, however, my philosophy has been to look at the sailor and see if there IS a reason to give him or her an MP. If the sailor shows some sort of initiative, I give it to them...if the sailor is simply getting by, he or she gets a P.
Notice O1 and O2 aren't mentioned...they are always marked Promotable, by instruction.
Now that you have an idea of how promotion works, how do you start writing an EVAL?
Start off by READING THE INSTRUCTION.
It's BUPERSINST 1610.10C. You're not going to read everything, however, you need to know where the instruction is because there is a lot of bad gouge out there about EVALs, FITREPs, Performance Information Memorandums (PIMs), etc. EVAL and FITREP writing needs to be done with the instruction open on your computer, PERIOD! If you ever guess at what should go in a block in NavFit98a, you are truly doing your sailors a disservice.
Now that you have the instruction, let's look at when reports are due:
|March||W3, W4, W5||E5|
|July||O6||E3, E2, E1|
Also, you need to know who can sign as reporting senior. E4 and below can be signed by a Division Officer, while E5-E6 requires a department head (in smaller commnds, the XO signs E1-E4 and the CO signs E5-E6). E5 and above MUST be signed by an O-4 or above. For officers, the CO signs unless the command is headed by an Admiral, in which case it may be the deputy or chief of staff.
Now that you understand how enlisted promotion works and what you are allowed to mark people, I recommend you do the following BEFORE you write anything down in NavFit98a:
- Establish ranking criteria
- Rank your sailors
- Place your sailors with the correct recommendation (P, MP, EP)
- Assign trait averages
- Ensure you have a good block 43
Ranking Criteria/Rank your sailors
So what should you use to rank your sailors? Some of this is common sense:
- Performance on the job
- Warfare Qualifications
- Technical Expertise
For enlisted EVALs, you should always look at the Chief's Board Precepts. This will give you a good idea of what sorts of things matter when selecting Chiefs. Your E5 and E6 EVALs especially need to reflect these points, since they will likely be reviewed during the Chief's board.
For E1-E4, you may also want to look at the LDO/CWO Board Precepts. Your sailor may apply to this board, and ensuring that the EVAL specifically hits the points mentioned in the Precepts will only help him or her select.
Since different communities value different things, you will have to grade according to what your values are. I recommend you build your ranking system out of 100 points, with an average sailor scoring around 50 points. I recommend this because you need to break out your sailors in a spread. Saying that every sailor is a great sailor means that you'll be picking based on emotion...not a good way to act.
Most of the time, your Chief or LPO should present rankings to you...but you need to be skeptical. I've regretted not looking more in depth into my sailors in the past, and since you are the one that signs the EVAL, you need to feel solidly about placing your signature on the page.
Once you have criteria, rank your sailors. Then, have someone else rank them and compare. Look at how everyone fell out. Come back the next day and re-look at the results, and rank it again. Spend the time up front ensuring you have your sailors in the right order...it makes every subsequent step easier.
Most larger commands will have a Plan Of Action and Milestones (POA&M), with dates as to when the EVALs will clear different people. Do NOT let your review get steamrolled by others. Too many commands view the Division Officer as a check in the box. You should know your sailors well, so your review should be in depth, and you shouldn't send anything up to the Department Head or N1 that you wouldn't personally put your signature on.
Place your sailors/assign trait averages
Once you have ranked (sometimes called "rack and stack") your sailors, assign P, MP, or EP. This part is straightforward if you are the reporting senior and you know how many sailors you can put in different categories.
If you are part of a larger group that the Department Head or above will sign, send up a memo up with the EVALS stating where you recommend your sailors fall out. I recommend the following categories:
- Ranked EP
- Unranked EP
- Ranked MP
- Unranked MP
If you are reasonable (not everyone is the number 1 EP!) you'll ensure your sailors get a fair shake when the command puts everyone in their place at the end of the process.
For assigning trait averages, look at the sailors last EVAL. You ideally want to show progression in the trait, but there are restrictions (such as PFA failures) that you have to follow. Progression means that your sailors are improving on each cycle, so at least one trait should rise each EVAL cycle.
Ensure you have a good Block 43 (Block 41 on FITREP/CHIEFEVAL)
Evaluations aren't just used for promotion. They are used by a variety of selection boards (officer, special programs, etc.), proof of service, and even for résumé bullets when a sailor leaves the Navy. You want a solid Block 43. It should have:
- A one line breakout, followed by white space
- Two-three bullets on performance
- A closing remark
The breakout is typically a ranking (e.g. #2 of 15 E-6s) which is designed to catch a boards attention. It's supposed to say the most important thing about the sailor.
Performance bullets talk about what you actually did. You need to be specific (percentages, numbers, etc.) but also you need to ensure that it can translate to other people that aren't necessarily experts in the field. Saying that you increased reporting efficiency is rather generic; saying that you reduced the average reporting time from 1 hour to 15 minutes is concrete.
Closing remarks should tell anyone reading it what you think the sailor is destined for next.
For Officers, promotion is quite different, and FITREPs are viewed differently. Officers don't take promotion exams, and are automatically promoted (assuming no NJP or Mast cases) to O3. Then it becomes tricky. USC Title 10 says officers must be looked at for promotion to LCDR between their 9 and 11 year marks. By that point, you should have 4-8 O3 FITREPs in your record.
Since junior officers are often told to submit FITREP bullets, what do you do? First, look at the latest LCDR Board Precepts and LCDR Board Convening Order. This gives you a good starting point for what to look for. Some common themes to demonstrate are:
- Tactical Proficiency
- Joint Experience
- Leading sailors
- Well Organized
I always viewed writing my bullets to show that I could do my bosses job. You should always send up more bullets than you have space to fill, since this gives your boss more choice in what he or she puts in.
Bullets need to have: a demonstrated trait, an action, and a positive result. The trait is something you pull from the Precept or Convening Order (leadership, tactical proficiency, etc.). The action is the concrete things that you did to accomplish something, and the result is the benefit that can be directly linked to the action.
For example, you could write:
Demonstrated successful leadership by organizing the ship's maintenance overhaul across 5 divisions (150 personnel), finishing 50 of 65 major jobs at least one day early, which allowed five additional days of at-sea CO discretionary time.
The bullet has a trait (leadership), an action (organizing the overhaul), and the result (finishing early and extra sea time). Not only is it solid, but it can translate to someone from another community (say, an aviator) as well as someone in the civilian world.
There are lots of good (and not-so-good) examples of Officer and Enlisted bullets. There is a lot of time spent word-smithing these blocks. Some resources you can use (and I plan to build my own at a later date) are:
Here is the reality though: the wording of these bullets is not nearly as important as the P, MP and EP ranking of the sailor. Especially for E5 and below, you should spend more time ensuring your sailors are ranked properly and receive the right number of PMA points than you should agonizing over whether to use "happy" or "glad" in the block 43 writeup.
Also, ensure you make a recommendation for Block 40. You have to make one, and can make two. If you want to be considered for a special program (say, Executive Fellowship or Olmsted Scholarship) then ensure you have it written in the Career Recommendation block. Most of the time this is ignored, but it can make the difference when a selection board is looking at your record.
In the end...stick with your results
No matter how much time you spend agonizing over EVALs, ensuring your rankings are correct, and making the best bullets for Block 43 possible...someone will tell you your EVALs suck. Whether it's some clueless CWO3 that couldn't do admin to save her life, an E5 that thinks he is the greatest thing since sliced bread, or your department head that doesn't see your sailors on a daily basis...there is always a critic.
If you have done all the steps outlined above, you should be pretty secure in your writeups. You'll have considered everything that is important, have ranked people based on their achievements and not emotions, and put your best performers on top while ensuring that upcoming sailors have the opportunity to excel. By definition, there can be only one top person, and unlike in current society where everyone gets a medal and trophy just for showing up, the Navy only promotes so many people.
If someone threatens to submit a statement...let them. Can you imagine sitting on a board reading an EVAL statement that says the Sailor didn't like his or her EVAL because they "felt they deserved a higher ranking"? Unless you ranked someone based on emotion (which could be construed as fraternization), any statement sent about an EVAL will likely have no effect on a board...in fact, it may hurt the sailor.
For another source of inspiration, read Seth's Post about critics.