When Airmen Refuse to Play Ball

Although Airmen don't write their own EPRs, they are expected to keep track of their accomplishments and provide a list of EPR inputs when it's time for EPRs. Once in a while, even after being asked several times, an Airman will not provide any inputs at all. This puts you in a tough spot because, on the other side, you have an NCOIC or First Sergeant who demands good, well-written EPRs on everyone. What are your options in this situation? How do you produce an EPR with no input? Replies will be posted below.




I once had a troop who refused to provide any EPR inputs despite being asked several times. He didn't outright refuse, he just never gave them to me. He always had an excuse. I asked him at least three times and stressed how important it was, especially as it got closer to close-out time. He had just rotated back to the states after being assigned to Korea and was scheduled to get out in 6 months so maybe that's the reason for his lack of motivation and refusal to cooperate.

Anyway, so here I am, faced with a deadline -and I cannot be late -and no content. Although I would have liked to have given him a two and a blank EPR, the policy in the squadron was that anybody who hadn't been in trouble (anyone without documented trouble) was an automatic FIVE. So, what I wound up doing for this inconsiderate jerk was making up an entire EPR with other people's accomplishments. They were the type of accomplishments that were team efforts and that were already being shared in multiple EPRs even though he had no part in most of them. I really hated doing that but the First Sergeant (who QC'd all EPRs) was inflexible.

The only bright spot in this story was when a civilian job recruiter called me a few months later as a reference for this Airman. This jerk had the gall to list me as a reference! I told that lady that I was astonished that he would list me as a reference because he was the most irresponsible troop we'd ever had in our workcenter. I gave her examples of his performance and told her how he used to neglect his responsibilities, sleep on mid shifts, and leave junior Airmen unsupervised. He didn't get the job and I didn't receive any other calls. [132.3.49.78]






The above comment is the best example of a Teflon NCO that I have read in a long time. A supervisors job is to know your subordinates, putting what you know about them into an EPR should not be difficult. The above asked a subordinate to do the supervisors job, and then got angry and vengeful when he didn't. It isn't hard to imagine why his subordinate separated from service with an example of leadership like that. If you want your subordinates to go the extra mile for you, you had better be already going the extra mile for them. They learn from you, if you aren't aware of what they are doing at work, and taking the time to get to know them, how can you possibly expect them to want to do your work as well? I am a Munitions Flight Chief and a MASO, I used to be a First Sergeant, and I am ashamed of the above comment.[131.62.10.25]






yeah yeah we all know the party line. But we're talking about reality not ideals. We, who are actually in the workcenter, ARE aware of what everyone is doing and CAN write an EPR that accurately describes what anyone in it has done. But we might not have enough content. And it would be very nice if an Airman was considerate enough to provide inputs when asked. We may actually be surprised by something we weren't aware of.[131.10.254.60]






I think this might be the same First Sergeant who insisted I give a dirt-bag SrA a five when I had already given him a four (which was more than he deserved). This First Sergeant didn't know either one of us and had never been to our shop. He said people's careers were being "affected"! I asked him, where were you when I got a four last year and I worked my ass off! His excuse was, well, I wasn't here then. What a load of manure. I would have given that guy a THREE.[143.81.103.41]






It is not the First Segeant's fault, they can not make policy, they are only following the Commanders' instructions. [132.3.65.82]






First let me state that I'm an AF Reserve MSgt, and before you AD guys say he doesn't know what he's talking about, I want you to hear me out. I've been writing EPRs for the last 10 years and it was my Capt from AD that taught me how to write EPRs to his standard and he was tough back when he was teaching me and he is still tough now as my current Squadron Commander today. So, my comments are based on the way my Sqdn CO taught me how to write EPRs and keep track of what my Airmen are doing. The NCO in the first comment should have gotten a 3 for not knowing his people. EPRs are not hard to write if people would just read the directions for each individual section. The direction for each section tells you exactly what to consider and write about. The second commenter is correct in that work center personnel are aware of what's going on and who is doing the work. If the NCO in the first comment had such a hard time with the Airman then he should have held a counseling session, but it does not excuse him for not reviewing his duty assignment records and 632a entries in the Airman's training record, to be able to write that EPR. He basically wanted the subordinate to write it for him. I currently teach EPR writing in my squadron to the CO's standard, and the famous line I hear a lot is "I don't have anything to write", so I reply what do you mean, and I get "He/She is a new gain" and hasn't done anything yet. I tell the shop supervisors to assign the Airman as shop safety rep, Squadron Booster Rep, get the Airman CPR/AED certified, ask about community service, ask if he/she donated monies to a charity when paying for groceries at local supermarket, bought Girl Scout cookies, and so on. The EPR program is inflated because our leaders constantly say "Careers are affected", so we get inflated EPRs. I wrote an EPR and gave my TSgt 4s (I actually wanted to give her 3s, but was instructed not to) across the board and she refused to sign and demanded that I change my rating. I refused. She went to the 1Sgt and CO and demanded that they make me change my rating. I had a counseling session with both Co and Shirt and I explained to them why I was not changing the rating. I told the CO and Shirt that I was here to serve the needs of MY country and the Air Force not the personal needs of any individual and that they could remove me as her rater if they wanted to, but they let it go at that. The CO tasked the Shirt with convincing the TSgt to sign the EPR. She refused and then called 4th AF IG on me. When contacted by the IG I presented 3 LOCs on the TSgt in a 12 month period, 1 from our Sq Chief while I was deployed and 2 from me when I returned from deployment. The IG asked, does she have a UIF and I said "No", because the CO did not want to hurt her career. Well, the IG said I did not have to change my rating because of the 3 LOCs and informed the TSgt of this. She was upset and still refused to sign. Long story short, a month after the IG investigation and refusing to sign for the 4th time, she disobeyed a lawful order from our sq Readiness officer and went AWOL. When confronted with she did, she knowingly gave both verbal and written false statements which were used to convince her sign and retire at her present rank or face a court martial and lose rank, money and possible confinement. She was not happy but she signed the EPR and retired. [132.3.1.79]






Wow. The above comment is the best example of a vengeful NCO I have ever read. A supervisor's job is to mentor, guide and groom their subordinates, not murder their careers. I am an active-duty First Sergeant and ashamed of the above conduct. We are here to help and mediate.






I'm a SrA trying to find bullets, I didn't expect all this drama. I was told to write things down that I do such as work bullets, volunteer and Schooling. Then I try and make them into good bullets and submit them to my supervisor. It's really not hard as long as when you do something you take notes. The only difficult thing is the wording, I can't use fancy words but have to make it sound fancy. Get. Me. Out. DD214 please.






For the above comment, I'm a SrA, and have been writing my own bullets since tech school. (super long tech school, had to have an EPR done) the easiest way to write a bullet before changing it so it fits and is the "correct" wording, is to look at it as: 1)what did I do? 2)who did it affect, and 3)what was the impact it had on mission






Wow; I am surprised that a 1st Sergeant would see that MSgt as a vengeful SNCO. I see a SNCO who is holding his NCOs accountable for their actions. We can mentor, guide and groom subordinates but it is kind of like leading a horse to water; you cannot make them drink.

The MSgt did NOT murder his subordinate's career; she did THAT all on her own. It saddens me that (assuming you are not a troll pretending to be a Shirt) we have people in that level of leadership who would see this dirtbag as automatically reflective as bad supervision instead of an adult fully capable of making their own decisions and taking the consequences for those decisions.






Everyone is bashing the first comment. Maybe he's in the same boat I am. I didn't find out this individual was my troop (one of six) until I deployed and I haven't worked directly with this individual in 8 months. Now because he tested well and made rank I'm expected to write a gold plated EPR. He isn't good at his job and has provided me with very little information.






In a large workcenter, with multiple shifts, how is it unreasonable to ask your subordinate to keep track of their own work? It's not like they need to write their own bullets, it can be as simple as a list of what they've done.

Don't try to pretend you're the best supervisor on the planet that knows every single task your troop on another shift has done all year... you probably don't even remember everything YOU'VE done. If your troop isn't sending you information, elevate it. Ask YOUR supervisor to have a word.






The last commenter has the best advice on this topic yet.






How do you write an EPR on someone that doesn't even have a security clearance and cannot do their job, or core tasks?! He's a nice guy and is eager to learn but I've got nothing to go on.






Sounds to me like that supervisor should have written him up several times...sleeping on duty? If he would have documented properly with the units policy it would have been a much easier EPR to write, possibly even a referral.






I'm a first-time-tester 1 year SSgt. I am guilty of being the airman that can't write bullets that well. However, I have always kept track of all of my work. Working a desk job is very fortunate because I open up a text document everyday I work and put everything I do inside it. I also keep track of an excel document every week by combing through the notepads and picking out the best stuff I did and throwing them inside the excel document. Every week is a bullet. I will say that writing bullets that meet leadership standards kinda feels like being pulled around a bit since not all SNCO's have the same standard for how bullets should be written.

I was assigned my first troop after I sewed on Staff. He's a smart SrA and does his job well. I know a lot about him and his personal life and what he wants to do (get out and do nothing as a contractor). He doesn't want awards. He doesn't want anything except to do his job until he separates this year. Leadership keeps volunteering him for all kinds of stuff and sending him TDY, but it makes me think "Why are they sending him?" I know he's good at his job and he's a smart dude, but he doesn't even want to be here. He doesn't volunteer. He doesn't do anything outside of work unless it's mandatory or someone up top tells him to do it. The duty position I'm in right now is what the rest of the squadron says is the "black hole" of the workcenter. So, it's hard to motivate my troop because yeah I know it sucks being here. Oh! He made staff selections this year! But guess what? He getting out. So I've done everything within my power to help the kid out with whatever he needs until his separation date comes. Sorry for the rant. I ended up using my last EPR to write his last cycle EPR (which his turned out to be BANGIN' and so much better than mine. you're welcome). It took me 4 months to write his EPR...with several people's help...including our SNCOs...just because he had given me NOTHING to work off of. I had to scrounge around and ended up using my own EPR bullets, but just doctored up for a SrA.

I wanted to rate him all the way to the right for his job and Followership/Leadership, because the guy is great at it and training others! However, even after I've talked to him many times about volunteering and prof development and how it's important for him to do, he went the entire year with no volunteer and prof development. I felt very discouraged as his supervisor. How could I have let this happen? I gave him sooooo many opportunities to take throughout the year, yet he just didn't do it because he only wants to do his job and nothing else before leaving the AF. The part of the EPR that took the longest was that part. EVERYONE was working on his EPR to make the bullets. But I'm his supervisor. I wanted to rate him as "Met some but not all expectations". And you know what leadership did...the took something that he didn't even do...and made it SUPER fancy...and stuck it on there...rated him as "Exceeded some, but not all expectations". I tried talking to everyone about it. I spoke with leadership about it. But they said "He's a smart good guy and we want to rate him as this." I guess character and people that like you is all you need in the Air Force to get by, huh?

This kid is older than I am, has a girlfriend/wife, way better at his job, leadership LOVES him because of his character and attitude, but...how can I reach this guy? It just seems like he doesn't care. This guy does not talk. Like, at all. To anyone.






I'm an AD MSgt and I'd like to share my bullet standards with everyone. I communicate these standards with all subordinates during feedbacks, and I recommend that my subordinates who are supervisors apply these standards as well. First and foremost is that the rater is responsible for writing the EPR, and that they must understand what their ratees are doing well enough that they *could* write an EPR with no inputs. That said, here's the responsibilities I levy on my folks.


AB-SrA (No ALS): General, plain-language information about what they did during the rating period. I prefer no more than two lines per act, but they should write as much as is needed to get the point across. If they choose to write "bullets", that's great! No matter what, I will be writing their EPR bullets from scratch. The key is that they're involved in their career and ratings, think critically about what they're doing, and learn to do some basic research (going through old emails and such). Follow-up mentoring will discuss how to figure out impacts and basic formatting. Line for "failure": No response/inputs.


SrA (w/ ALS)-SSgt: I expect basic -Action; result--impact bullets. They don't need to conform with a particular writing guide (though I will provide it), nor do they need to be of a particular length. I also expect the member to write about one additional plain-language line per bullet that explains what they did. I should also receive sufficient quantity of bullets to roughly fill half of the form (at a minimum). I will probably write the vast majority of their EPR bullets from scratch; at the very least, the provided bullets will get a complete overhaul. The goal is to get the member used to writing bullets and doing research on work activities and impacts. Follow-up will include use of writing guides, word choice, better research/how to dig deep. "Failure": Only plain-language inputs with no attempt at bullet format, or no input.


TSgt+: "EPR-Ready" bullets. Inputs should be properly formatted (per applicable writing guides) and of proper length with sufficient quantity to fill the form (or very close). As a technical expert who is leading, supervising, and mentoring others, I expect the member to lead by example, think, read, and write critically, and take a personal interest in their career. I will re-work most bullets to give them some more "punch" or fix an odd error or two; "routine" work bullets might get used as-is (emphasis on "might"). Mentoring will involve digging even deeper for impacts, and how word choices influence the tone of the bullet and EPR. "Failure": Not meeting the above criteria.


I mentioned a criteria for "failure"; the consequence of that is that we will have some counseling about the importance of following directions and how that reflects on meeting feedback-documented expectations. If the member provided inputs, but they were't good, we will spend time discussing how the inputs need to be re-worked and what I expect from them. The goal behind all of this is personal professional growth (for the member), and for supervisors to develop the skills needed to properly supervise and rate their own juniors. It also gives me some additional information about how the member performs, and how much they care about their work and career.


Under no circumstances is the member "writing their own evaluation". When I send my subordinates a reminder that EPRs are coming due, I have already begun writing their evaluation. Normally, I receive replies after I have finished my first (complete) draft of their EPR, and their inputs help me strengthen my first draft. I would estimate that I know about 90% of my subordinates work accomplishments, and about 70% of their "extracurriculars". Naturally deployments make all of this tougher, but thankfully electronic communication (including a basic phone call) helps. Additionally, I would like to re-emphasize the important of providing this guidance in feedback. Subordinates should understand what is expected of them now, and what could be expected in the future (in case they would like to take on an extra challenge). Lastly, if you have not received feedback, you must demand it. If you supervisor does not provide it, do not sign anything stating that you received it.






"He had just rotated back to the states after being assigned to Korea" You all need to learn to read. He just got the airman. How is he supposed to know this dudes stuff without asking for it. You are all too old. Get out now.






As an NCO and an AF Reservist I meet with my subordinates once a month and catch up on their life with them. I ask them if they have done any volunteer stuff or personal development. They sit with me for about 30 minutes to an hour and we create a draft bullet together. We then take about 10 minutes to set some professional and personal development goals. If the supervisor has the time to make a 10 minute phone call to ask for the bullets, then he has the 10 minutes to give an example and draft up a bullet as they are talking. Great opportunity to set future expectations.

I have found that writing EPRs and Award Packages and Medals are sometimes overwhelming for some people. Not everyone is blessed with the same skills, but having different skills is what makes us a great team. Furthermore, it is important to share that knowledge with each other. Yes, I could just tell him to google it and not explain how I got from point A to point B and just draft up an EPR and send it out, but I'd rather teach a man to fish than just catch all the fish for him. I was NEVER taught how to write an EPR, award, or medal. I had to spend a lot of time figuring it out. I wish someone had mentored me. To this day, I still have a great relationship with my past subordinates even though we have moved on to different bases and it's all due to taking the time to teach them my expectations. After a few bullet writing sessions they would come to me with bullets already drafted and then we would finalize the bullets together. It's important to set a base line and then continue to raise the bar so they can effectively grow. And yes, I've had some troops that did not want to contribute to the Air Force as much as I think they should have so I've had to deal with that on a case by case basis. Maybe I'm just really blessed, but I have found that 9 times out of 10 they just need a little guidance to see how to write bullets.

For people who get deployed and don't get a chance to meet their troops, I feel like the next supervisor should have stepped in to assist. If that is not possible then, I have sent an example of what info I needed from my troop and have always gotten the information I needed. I can't say those EPRs were my best work, but I can say that we gave 100%. Again, I sent my troop an example of what I needed and clear instructions. Communicating expectations saves a lot of heartache.




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