Throwback Thursday Classic Post – The Top 5 Critical FITREP Mistakes

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(You can find all of my FITREP education here, including the FITREP Prep document.)

When I was a Detailer, I would review a lot of records for people who failed to promote. Over and over again I would see FITREPs that reflected poorly on the officer. A lot of the time they didn’t realize it was even an issue, and sometimes they did it to themselves. Here are the top 5 FITREP mistakes you want to make sure you don’t make:

  1. Getting anything other than an early promote (EP) when you are getting a 1/1 FITREP, also known as an “air bubble.”

If you are the only officer in your competitive category (meaning that you aren’t competing against anyone on that FITREP), make sure you get an EP. Just like a single air bubble, you should “rise to the top” and get an EP. If you don’t get the air bubble and get a promotable (P) or must promote (MP), it reflects poorly on you unless it is CLEARLY EXPLAINED in the narrative why you are getting a P or MP. Here you can see an officer who got a 1/1 MP in his/her last FITREP and how it would be noted at a promotion board:

Air Bubble

For example, if your reporting senior doesn’t give newly promoted officers an EP, your narrative should say something like, “Newly promoted officers do not receive EP rankings.” Sometimes this happens because your reporting senior is an officer from another service and he/she doesn’t understand the “Navy rules” for FITREPs. Sometimes it happens because either you or your reporting senior wants to give you a P or MP so you can “show progression” and get an EP. If you want to show progression, do it on the overall marks, not the final promotion recommendation. For example, give yourself a 4.0 EP, then a 4.17 EP, and finally a 4.33 EP. DO NOT give yourself a P or MP if you are getting a 1/1 FITREP.

  1. Both officers in a competitive group of 2 getting a MP FITREP.

If you are in a competitive group of 2, your reporting senior should give 1 of you an EP and the other a MP. If he/she gives you both a MP, it reflects poorly on both of you. Most often this will happen at an operational command and/or when there are 2 officers who are competing but are in the same promotion year group. Make sure your reporting senior doesn’t take the easy road and give you both a MP. One of you should get the EP, and the other can get a MP with a strong narrative explaining why.

  1. Declining from an EP to an MP without changing competitive groups (or “moving to the left”).

Most often I would see this when a resident who was in a large competitive group was given an EP FITREP. Then when they graduate from residency, their competitive group shrinks and they don’t get an EP but are left with an MP. Here’s what it looks like on when projected at the promotion board:

Moving to Left

If I was you, I’d fight this like a dog. If they can’t keep you at an EP and you didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this, make sure the reason for your drop from an EP to a MP is clearly explained in the FITREP narrative.

If this happens to you because you are changing competitive groups, like when you get promoted or move from residency/fellowship to a staff physician at the same institution, it is not a black mark in any way and is expected.

  1. Not getting a 5.0 in Leadership.

If you are writing your own FITREP, you can’t give yourself a 5.0 in every category, but of all the categories Leadership is probably the most important one. Make sure you give yourself a 5.0 in Leadership because that is what the promotion board is looking to promote, future leaders. Having less than a 5.0 can send a bad message to the board.

Sometimes you have no control over this, and sometimes you may deserve less than a 5.0 in Leadership, but do your best to get a 5.0 there if at all possible.

  1. Giving yourself an overall trait average less than your reporting senior’s average.

Every reporting senior has an overall trait average for each rank that includes all of the FITREPs that they’ve done for that rank. You want to try and find out what it is.

While a reporting senior can look up their average on BOL, you can’t. You can, though, see it on your Performance Summary Record if you’ve received a FITREP from them at your current rank. Although it changes every time they do more FITREPs, their average the last time they did a round of FITREPs can be found on your PSR and is highlighted below by the red arrow with blue text (this reporting senior had ranked 6 LCDRs and had an average of 3.50 at that time) on one of the slides from my FITREP video podcast:


If you have never received a FITREP from your reporting senior at your current rank, maybe your one of your friends has. The other way to find out their average is to ask your chain-of-command. Someone, usually the command’s FITREP coordinator, will know their average for your rank.

It is probably obvious that once you find out their average, you’d like to make sure you are above it. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to be above it because you are getting a P and/or you deserve to be below it, but make sure you don’t rank yourself below it if given the chance to write your own FITREP.

In summary, those are the top 5 FITREP mistakes I often see. If you are interested in learning more, grab a copy of your FITREP and watch this video podcast. In 45 minutes you’ll know everything you need to know to write effective FITREPs.

Reader Question/Poll – NOB Fitrep vs New Guy/Gal Promotable (P) Fitrep – Which is Better?

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Reader Question

I’m a LCDR MC officer. I’m new at my command and was passed over during my in-zone promotion board for CDR. My command is considering a NOB fitrep vs. a Promotable (P) fitrep. Do you have a recommendation on which fitrep will be more helpful for my promotion board?

Reader Poll


My Answer

In my experience, most physicians seem to prefer the NOB. We’ll see what the poll above says, though.

Personally, I don’t think it really matters very much. At the promotion board, both are easily explained and a getting a P as the new officer is expected, so it wouldn’t be a negative.

I would say that if you get a P you have already started the march to an MP and then (hopefully) an EP. If you take the NOB, then your next fitrep could be seen as your “new guy/gal P.”

This last point is why I’d prefer the P if it was me, but I don’t feel that strongly about it.

Throwback Thursday Classic Post – Basic Anatomy of a FITREP

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There is a HUGE knowledge deficit in the Medical Corps about FITREPs, which is sad when you consider that they are probably the most important document in our Naval careers.  To address this deficit I created this video podcast.  In 43 minutes you’ll know just about everything that you need to know about FITREPs.  This material is based on about 10 lectures I collected over the years and is consistent with the 2015 update of the FITREP instruction.

Grab a FITREP to look at or start up NAVFIT98a and write your FITREP as you watch the video because it will be much easier to follow along this way.  In addition, here are the slides to download and view and the page with all my FITREP resources:

Basic Anatomy of a FITREP

Joel Schofer’s FITREP Prep Page

Updated Fitrep Prep Document

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Yesterday I updated my Fitrep Prep document, which is available on this page. It walks you through how to write your fitrep block by block, and if you are not using it to write your fitreps you are probably missing out. (I could be a tad biased though.)

New Performance Evaluation Tool Tested by Fleet Sailors

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From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) — After a major phase of fleet testing Nov. 30, the Navy is making great progress in fielding an enhanced and modern performance evaluation system that emphasizes quality feedback to improve individual and unit performance — what many consider a must in an era of great power competition.

“The Navy the Nation Needs requires leaders of competence and character throughout the fleet. We’re focused on driving culture change that places greater value on the professional and personal development of every member of the team through inspired coaching and effective performance assessment,” said Rear Adm. Jeff Hughes, commander, Navy Personnel Command.

Feedback from numerous focus groups, application of human behavioral science, use of commercial IT systems and analytic methodology all contributed to the proposed design concept. The new evaluation system will be an online, web-based application accessible from a Sailor’s work or personal computer, tablet or smart phone.

“A new process with better tools is only part of this modernization effort. We need to provide more candid and meaningful feedback to each other. Sailors are telling us this is important to them. We need to enhance the process and use modern tools to best accomplish this,” Hughes said.

The new evaluation system places greater value on merit over seniority or tenure. It eliminates “forced distribution,” with relative ranking against peers in categorized groups within a command, and instead rates a Sailor’s performance on paygrade-based objective standards. These standards are captured in trait categories that reflect key attributes of professional competence and character. Sailors are evaluated on value statements from within these trait categories using an expanded 9-point scale for greater accuracy and distinction. The evaluator responds intuitively during a short, timed window when providing a score for each value statement. This approach will apply to both the proposed coaching and evaluation processes. The recently completed test phase focused primarily on the coaching phase.

A major part of this modernized performance assessment approach is a shift to greater emphasis on coaching. The multi-source assessment and feedback tool is a commercially developed web-based application that supports the coaching process, and is designed to deliver candid, open and actionable feedback to the Sailor. The formal performance evaluation (EVAL or FITREP) tool will look nearly identical, but will involve only the rater, senior rater and the individual being rated.

The coaching process starts with a self-assessment, then combines input from subordinates, peers and the direct supervisor to provide comprehensive feedback through various perspectives to each Sailor. Assessments can be requested by the Sailor or the supervisor. An information rich report is then made available for the Sailor and the supervisor to discuss performance and chart a way forward to drive self and unit improvement. This process and tool will better enable coaching sessions, which just aren’t occurring across the fleet today like they should. The tool will not only be available for periodically scheduled sessions, but also on demand for when a Sailor or the supervisor desires a coaching event.

“We completed a fleet-wide test with approximately 10,000 Sailors from 140 diverse active-duty and Reserve component commands representing numerous Navy communities. We sequenced numerous waves of commands throughout the two-month test period to rapidly incorporate feedback as we learned while bringing more units into the test population,” Hughes said. “Additionally, we are gaining greater fleet feedback on their assessment of the proposed traits and value statements and the 9-point grading scale.”

“Initial feedback is that both the process and tool support a quality and efficient coaching session as envisioned,” Hughes said, “We expect to complete the data analysis phase by the end of January.”

This constitutes the third of five test phases leading to the delivery of the coaching portion of the new system in mid-2019 and the evaluation portion soon after. The plan is to introduce this new design concept across the entire fleet through the coaching phase while still using the current EVAL and FITREP system before we transition to the new evaluation process. This will allow for much better mid-term counseling across the fleet next year and set the conditions for a smooth transition to the enhanced evaluation system.

Please visit MyNavy Portal at to access a link to perform a self-assessment using the coaching tool. Additionally, a demonstration video and the training/reference products used by the fleet test participants will also be available for you to view.

Get more information about the Navy from US Navy facebook or twitter.

For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit

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Update on the New Fitrep System

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The Navy released a NAVADMIN on the upcoming revamped fitness report and evaluation system. Here are the highlights:

  • ­The new evaluation system will place emphasis on merit over seniority or tenure. It eliminates forced distribution with relative ranking against peers in categorized groups within a command and instead rates the performance of a Sailor on paygrade­ based objective standards. These standards are captured in trait categories that reflect key attributes of professional competence and character.
  • Sailors are evaluated on value statements within these trait categories using an expanded 9­ point scale for greater accuracy and distinction. The evaluator responds intuitively during a short, timed window when providing a score for each value statement. This approach will apply to both the proposed coaching and evaluation processes.
  • The plan is to introduce this new design concept across the entire Fleet with an updated coaching phase while still using the current fitness report and evaluation system before they transition to the new evaluation process. They will deliver the coaching portion of the new system in mid­-2019 and the evaluation portion soon after.
  • There’s also a PPT slide deck that shows you some screen shots of what the new tool looks like and how it works.

You Should Care About Promotion Board Precepts and Convening Orders

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Whenever a promotion board starts, the members are provided two items to guide them as they decide who to promote, the board precept and the convening order. These documents are available on-line and should be used to figure out how to promote and write your fitrep.


The Board Precept

The precept is released in December and can be seen anytime afterwards. For example, if you go to the FY19 O4 Staff Corps Promotion Board page and click on the link marked with an arrow, you’ll get the board precept even though this board hasn’t started yet:



The Convening Order

The convening order for a promotion board is not released until it starts. If you monitor the board page closely, you’ll usually be able to get it within 1-2 days after the board begins. You just click the link that reads “Board Convening Order”:

Convening Order

Incidentally, this is how I always find out the promotion opportunity for all the boards and post it on the blog. It is in the convening order.


Why You Should Care

You should care about the precept and convening order because they tell you how to promote to the next rank. Go to this page and download them from the most recent boards of your next rank. You can see all the different boards circled in red here:


Click on the board for the next rank you’ll be competing for, and download the precept and convening order. If the board hasn’t happened yet (like the FY19 O4 board), then you’ll have to look at last year’s convening order (FY18).

Use these documents for two things. First, to figure out how to promote. For example, I deconstructed a past O6 convening order here.

Second, use them to come up with wording for your fitrep bullets, as discussed here where I showed you how to pull phrases for your block 41.


The Bottom Line

  1. Go to this page.
  2. Get the precept and convening order for your next rank. You might have to go to last year’s board for the convening order if the board hasn’t started yet.
  3. Use them to figure out how to get promoted and for writing your fitrep.