Don't stress over new OPR/EPR forms

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- I am not sure I have ever met anybody who looked forward to a performance report or feedback session. Both tend to create anxiety for both the rater and the ratee. But, I also have yet to meet anyone who does not understand how vitally important officer performance reports, enlisted performance reports and feedback sessions are for developing our Airmen. 

Our Air Force recently announced new formats for officer and enlisted performance reports. I applaud the intent, which is to streamline the form, make the process easier and better capture performance; how-ever, since most of us are resistant to change, I am sure some of you are a bit anxious. 

The best advice I can give you is to relax and not worry. Because when all is said and done, it really does not matter how the form is structured. What really matters is your conduct and performance, and how your supervisor captures them in the report. 

Supervisors and subordinates must ensure the right stuff gets into these reports. Raters and ratees should continuously track and document duty performance. This includes successes and areas of needed improvement, because as we all know - in spite of an inflated system - nobody is perfect. For the most part, we all do great work, but there is always room for improvement, even among the best and the brightest. 

That is why it is critical for supervisors/leaders to provide honest, ongoing feedback. Do not wait for the mandated periodic feedback session to let subordinates know they are doing a great job or need to improve in certain areas. We can all improve in providing feedback to those we lead - especially when it comes to constructive criticism, which is arguably the most important aspect of giving viable feedback. Giving and receiving criticism makes most of us a bit uneasy. But it must be done and done properly if the member is to benefit. 

Private sessions I had with my bosses, where they were brutally honest, helped me the most. It was painful to hear at first, but then I realized they had my best interests and those of the Air Force at heart. Sometimes direct, yet compassionate, honesty is the best way to show someone you sincerely care about them and to help vector them toward the right path. 

So remember, do not get spun up about the new OPR and EPR formats. Your conduct, performance and having a boss who truly cares about you are what matter most. And from what I have seen in my short time here, we have lots of top performers and outstanding bosses, too. Together, we will make this transition a seamless one. Go Sharks!