FITREP / EVAL: Do they measure Performance or Aptitude?

Frequently clients approach me who are unhappy with their FITREP or EVAL. They feel that they worked harder or performed better than the other members in their peer group, but did not break out like they wanted.

I generally start the conversation with a fairly provocative statement.  “FITREPS and EVALS are not designed to record an individual’s performance, they are not designed to record how hard you worked or even how hard you are doing in your current job.  FITREPS and EVALS are designed only to determine an individual’s aptitude for future promotion and selection for your next job.“

Maybe in your case your performance exceeded your aptitude.   

Let me explain with an example. Take two Bosin Mates First Class, BM1 Knuckle Dragger and BM1 Smart Guy. BM1 Knuckle dragger is the hardest worker on the ship. He knows every knot, knows every deck evolution and is the goto guy for any hard work that needs to be done. He works hard, smells bad and spends his duty nights needle gunning the ships bollards.

BM1 Smart Guy is not as hard a worker as Knuckle Dragger. He is a capable BM and a good leader but spends more time mentoring JO’s and new sailors and is the division’s go-to guy for reviewing admin and re-writing chits and Petty Officer EVALS. He spends his duty evenings working on his degree in military history and reading books off the Navy Reading List.

Who do you want to be a Chief?  Who is the right BM1 to take a young Ensign under his wing and teach him about ship life?  Who would be best navigating ship politics and providing recommendations to his Commanding officer?  Who should get the #1 EP on their Eval?

BM1 Knuckle Draggers performance is clearly superior; however, BM1 Smart Guy would make a much better Chief and has much better aptitude for promotion.

Is this a tough call?  No, Not really.

From a reporting seniors point of view the primary focus of the FITREP and EVAL system is on aptitude.  BM1 Knuckle Dragger, while a hard worker, would probably fail as a Chief. He is not acting like a Chief and does not have the skill sets to show that is is ready for Chief. BM1 Smart Guy on the other hand, is acting like a Chief and shows that he has the skill set to put on Khakis.

As such, as a reporting senior, I would give BM1 Smart Guy an EP with a strong recommendation for Chief. I would give BM1 Knuckle Dragger a P and stay something to the effect of “Progressing toward the responsibilities of Chief”

If you find yourself in either one of these situations and want to discuss your situation let me know. I’ve spent seven years as an XO at over 4 different commands and can help you navigate the politics of FITREPS and EVALS.