What better to do during a global pandemic than listen to a screencast about managing your career! Here are the PPT slides I used for it:
Throwback Thursday Classic Post – You Should Care About Promotion Board Precepts and Convening Orders
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 FY21 O4 Staff Corps Promotion Board page and click on the link titled “SecNav Approved Precept” 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. I was able to download the FY21 O6 board convening order on Tuesday of this week (2 days ago), the day it started. You just click the link that reads “Board Convening Order”, like in this image below for the FY19 O4 Staff board:
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 FY21 O4 board), then you’ll have to look at last year’s convening order (FY20).
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
- Go to this page.
- 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.
- Use them to figure out how to get promoted and for writing your fitrep.
The Navy recently updated its fitrep instruction. Here it is:
The changes are not very relevant to this audience unless you are a reporting senior, but for those that are here is the summary:
The updated instruction is attached. Below is the NAVADMIN but here is a summary of changes:
This revision incorporates policy guidance contained in NAVADMINs 141/17 (Physical Readiness Program Policy Changes), 304/17 (Physical Readiness Program Policy Change), and 193/19 (Active Component LDO and CWO Fitness Report Officer Summary Groups). In addition, the following new guidance applies with the updated instruction:
- Incorporating reference (a) guidance when a member willfully does not meet deployability standards and authorizing the submission of a Special Report when a member willfully does not meet deployability standards.
- Requiring reports for Navy reservists who perform active-duty periods that are greater than 90 days and prohibiting reports for Navy reservists who perform active-duty periods that are less than 90 days.
- Assigning September 30 as the periodic report date for Chief Warrant Officer-1.
- Prohibiting delegation of reports on members in the grades of E5 through E9, including members frocked to E5, below the grade of lieutenant designated department heads.
- Prohibiting reporting seniors, raters and senior raters from evaluating members who have filed an accusation of sexual misconduct against the reporting senior, rater or senior rater while an investigation is pending to reflect the requirements of reference (b).
- Incorporating changes to flag officer reporting requirements, including changes to blocks 14-15 (Period of Report Table 19-1), requiring submission 15 days sooner and changing the verbiage for blocks 10-13 (Occasion of Report) to read, Special Reports will be selected for Concurrent or Operational Commander report.
- Adding billet specific language to the instruction requiring reporting seniors evaluating Navy Installation Commanding Officers (CO) to document in block 41 (comments on performance) their performance in managing family and unaccompanied housing programs. Additionally, reporting seniors evaluating Naval Facilities Engineering Command COs are required to document in block 41 (comments on performance) their performance in facility management of family and unaccompanied housing and enforcement of Public Private Venture business agreements.
One of the most important markers of a good fitrep is that your trait average is above your reporting senior’s trait average. Since most officers initially write their own fitrep and create their own trait average on the first draft, it is important to find out your reporting senior’s trait average so that you can try to be above it. Here are a few ways to find out what it is.
First, in order to have a trait average, your reporting senior has to have served as the reporting senior for officers of your same rank from any corps. If they have not done this, they’ll have no pre-existing average. For example, if you are a LCDR, your reporting senior does not have to have ranked LCDR physicians. If he/she has ever ranked a LCDR of any kind (nurse, line officer, etc.), then they will have an average.
If they have an average, here are the ways I know of to find it:
- If you’ve already received a fitrep from them in your current grade, then you can look at your Performance Summary Report or PSR, which you download from BUPERS On-Line. The number in the lower right in the “AVERAGES” column (circled below) is their average for that rank.
- If you haven’t received a fitrep from them, maybe you have a friend in the same rank who has received a recent fitrep from them. You can look at their PSR if they’ll let you.
- You can ask your chain of command or command fitrep coordinator. They often know because they are trying to make sure that all of the fitreps being done don’t change the reporting senior’s average in ways he/she doesn’t want.
- You can ask the reporting senior. They just may tell you.
The bottom line is that if you are drafting your fitrep, you want to try and find out the average and grade yourself above it. In the end, the ranking process may move you below it, but by submitting the draft with an above average grade you may increase the chances you stay above it.
An officer e-mailed me and asked for tips on improving his concurrent FITREP, which I thought would make a nice blog post.
A concurrent FITREP is most often received when you are deployed. It is “concurrent” because not only are you getting a FITREP from your deployed command/unit, but you are also getting one from your home/parent command. For example, in 2016 I returned from my last deployment after being gone from September 2015 to June 2016. I received both a periodic FITREP from my parent/home command and a concurrent FITREP from my deployed command.
Tips to improve your concurrent FITREP include:
- Realize that operational commanders often know very little about medical/Navy FITREPs, so you want to do everything you can to make sure that none of these critical FITREP mistakes happen to you.
- Try to get a strong soft breakout where the commander compares you to all officers of the same grade under his/her command either now or during his/her entire career. For example, “In the top 10% of over 200 O4 officers I’ve rated in my entire career.”
- Make sure your most important title/duty is in the box in the upper left of block 29. For example, don’t put “PHYSICIAN” but “OIC” or “SMO”. You can often score some titles that sound very important on a deployment, like “MEU SURGEON” or “GROUP SURGEON”. You don’t want to waste them.
Otherwise, general FITREP advice can be found on my FITREP prep page.
(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:
- 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:
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.
- 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.
- 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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?
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.