News | June 1, 2016

Write this, not that

By Tech. Sgt. Heather Skinkle 940th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Chuck Diven, a retired 33 year military member, recently spoke with several groups of 940th Air Refueling Wing members on how to write excellent evaluation reports. Diven broke down the do’s and don’ts of evaluation writing and how vital those reports are to career progression. But the retired lieutenant colonel didn’t only speak on report writing, he concluded with personal insights illustrating how to be more resilient.

In case you missed Diven’s seminar’s here’s his advice in a nutshell:

Be THIS kind of worker, not THAT kind

Reservists might not be in control of every aspect of their jobs, but some things, like handing a quality evaluation draft to a supervisor, are in your control. Member’s career progression can be helped or hindered by how well you and your supervisor communicate your accomplishments in an evaluation report.

Be a contributor: take on challenging projects, classes, or volunteer work. Stepping outside your comfort zone not only broadens experience and enhances an EPR, but also rounds out and polishes a reservist’s skills.

Working hard and regularly jotting down accomplishments makes turning in an EPR draft to a supervisor much easier. The more ‘straw,’ or information, given to a supervisor, the more that straw can be spun into gold.

These elements are all within your control and developing these habits are crucial for growing in your civilian career too.


Understand the three part bullet system

With the ushering in of the new enlisted performance report forms, Air Force forms 910 and 911, and the complementary Airman Comprehensive Assessment Worksheets, the Air Force hopes to better rate an Airmen’s behavior and actions based on the Whole Airmen Concept, including personal and professional development, esprit de corps and community relations.


Here’s the skinny on forming bullets - supervisors and supervisee’s should break it down into a formula: A+I=R, or, action + immediate impact= long range result. Bullets (or resumes, for that matter) shouldn’t read like just a job description or task list, use verb rich details to show action, but action with result.  Active verbs like hurdled, authored, or hand-selected keep pushing the reader through the bullet line.


Bullet Language

1. Aim for every bullet to avoid jargon because every time we use acronyms or job specific language we create a puzzle for the reader.


2. Use active verbs, and include an action, impact, and result in each bullet.


3. Just as in other forms of writing – avoid using clichés and verbs, i.e., spearheaded.


4. Don’t follow The Tongue and Quill’s advice and use one line and one bullet. These are outdated examples and much too long!


5. Don’t separate independent clauses with semi colons.


6. Check your word usage! Make sure you aren’t misusing a word and it means what you think it means.


7. Don’t spell out numbers under 10.


8. Don’t add a period after your bullet, it isn’t a sentence.


9. Don’t add sub bullets within bullets.


10. Make a real contribution and truthfully report it (this should go without saying).


Write steak bullets, not twinkie bullets

Fluffy or twinkie bullets aren’t results oriented and are full of meaningless jargon and have little to no data. Steak Bullets have meat on them – meaning specific, relevant concrete data and measurable impact.


Whether developing your own bullets or a troop’s, ask who, what, when, where, how, and why. Who benefitted from the action? The wing, base, community? 


For example, if an airman volunteered 50 hours of his time to help build a playground in his local community think of the larger picture of what this airman accomplished – by creating a place for children to play, the community may see a reduction in crime and obesity, plus, the airman enhanced community relations by representing the Air Force positively.


The airman’s action are a small piece of a larger picture, so you need to look at the implications of the action. For example, why does an airman turn a wrench? To fix the plane that flies the missions that supports the combatant command or humanitarian mission.


Lessons in Resilience

When Diven’s house was completely destroyed in a tornado, he said he made sure to continue practicing two things that helped him become more resilient. 


Be thankful- keep a gratitude journal. It is scientifically proven that keeping a positive, thankful attitude improves physical and psychological health and helps foster relationships.  During times of trial, look back in the gratitude journal and reflect on all there is to be thankful for.


Be mindful – Try and practice being present in the moment and accepting thoughts and feelings without judgement. Allowing the mind to focus on the present can help maintain a more relaxed, meditative state and aids psychological and physical health.


Build community – Diven said although emergency responders and support agencies like FEMA and the Red Cross will help out disaster victims, his community, new and old friends, family, and coworkers locally and from all over the country were invaluable in helping his wife and he get back on their feet after the tornado.


Diven said don’t wait until an emergency to know your neighbors. Kindliness and paying attention to the needs of others can go a long way in building lifelong relationships. 


So, be thankful, mindful, and foster relationships within your community to cultivate an attitude of resilience.


Suggested Reading List:


10% happier, How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge

By Dan Harris


After having a televised panic attack, Nightline anchor Dan Harris, decided to make some life changes. The author delves into the many faces of spirituality and self-help.


The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

By Eric Weiner


A travel memoir and a New York Times bestseller foreign correspondent Eric Weiner. In the book, Weiner travels all around the globe—including Iceland, Bhutan, Moldova and Qatar—to search out how different culture’s pursuit of happiness.


Please Understand Me

By David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates


The book contains a lengthy personality questionnaire, developed by Keirsey which sorts behavioral patterns into four temperaments and sixteen character types. The detailed characteristics of a type can help ascertain who you may clash or get along with and what career best suits a specific personality type. The personality types can help someone discover how they relate to the world and manage energy.