What is an NCOER?
An NCOER, also known as DA Form 2166-8, serves as a documentation tool for assessing an individual’s performance over a specific period, typically a year. In the Army, every individual undergoes performance evaluation using this form. As a supervisor, it becomes your responsibility to write NCOERs for the individuals under your supervision. Although supervisors are primarily responsible for composing NCOERs, they often seek input from the Soldiers being rated to ensure they capture all noteworthy achievements accurately. However, it’s important to note that the Soldier does not write their own NCOER. Rather, supervisors who genuinely care about their subordinates strive to craft the most comprehensive and compelling NCOERs possible, and hence, they may request additional information from the rated individual. It is in the best interest of the Soldier to provide as much relevant information as possible.
To begin the process of writing an excellent NCOER, it is essential to maintain a positive mindset. We all experience ups and downs in our military careers, and there may be moments when we feel discouraged, questioning our chances of promotion. However, it is crucial not to succumb to such negative thoughts. You possess the potential to be promoted! While I don’t intend to undermine the significance of the NCO Corps, I have witnessed individuals who faced challenges with language proficiency or basic tasks yet achieved promotion repeatedly. This demonstrates that you too can succeed!
Moreover, do not let the perceived increase in responsibility intimidate you. It would be unfortunate to hinder your chances of promotion simply because you doubt your ability to handle the responsibilities of the next rank. This concern may arise for some individuals, and it is natural to find it challenging to envision yourself effectively fulfilling the duties of your superior. You may perceive your current supervisor’s seamless execution of their responsibilities and wonder if you can measure up. However, it is important to remember that each person is unique, and we all approach tasks differently. Your execution of duties at the next rank will inevitably differ from your predecessor’s, and it might even prove more efficient. Therefore, do not allow this natural concern to dampen your enthusiasm. Every NCO experiences moments of self-doubt, but it is essential to overcome them.
The duty description section is where the actual writing begins in an NCOER. This section should effectively describe your most crucial duties, as it sets the stage for the entire evaluation. Failing to provide a comprehensive duty description would result in an NCOER that lacks impact. Remember, this is the only section where you can list your responsibilities and job-specific tasks. Accomplishments will be addressed later in the body of the NCOER. It is recommended to include as much relevant information as possible, starting with the most important duties. For further guidance on duty descriptions, please refer to the NCOER Duty Description page.
NCOER Bullet Comments
The primary section of the NCOER form is dedicated to listing your achievements during the specified reporting period. The purpose of documenting these achievements is to provide an official record of your performance, enabling subsequent comparisons with your peers for promotion considerations. The NCOER’s goal is to offer an accurate and comprehensive account of a Soldier’s performance throughout the reporting period. Therefore, it is essential to not only have an impressive list of accomplishments but also present them in a manner that highlights their significance. It is worth noting that bullet comments are required, regardless of the rating received.
It is crucial to understand that promotion does not solely hinge on eloquent words or overly positive phrases. The rating assigned by your supervisor plays a substantial role, which heavily relies on your actual performance throughout the year. Although you cannot alter the past year’s performance when the NCOER is due, you can maximize the potential of the performance you have displayed. It is entirely possible to write an NCOER in a manner that makes it challenging for your supervisor to grade your performance as anything less than excellent. Achieving this outcome merely requires investing a bit of time and effort.
To gather material for your NCOER, it is most effective to engage in brainstorming first. Start by listing all the accomplishments of the ratee on a separate sheet of paper. Include everything that might qualify as a bullet point—no achievement is too small or insignificant. Consider deployments, additional duties, training, education, volunteer work, community involvement, awards and decorations, and any other relevant contributions.
Now is not the time to downplay your achievements! Modesty is a common hurdle for novice NCOER writers. It is understandable that most individuals do not wish to appear boastful or overly self-assured regarding their performance. However, when it comes to NCOERs, your objective is to present yourself as an exemplary Soldier. In Army evaluations, it is customary to highlight accomplishments to make it seem as though you have revolutionized the field or made groundbreaking contributions. Exaggeration, to a certain extent, is an integral part of the process. As you become accustomed to this approach, you may even find it enjoyable.
Claim credit for everything you have contributed! If you are new to NCOERs, you might hesitate to take credit for achievements in which you were not solely responsible. However, it is perfectly acceptable to claim accomplishments that involved teamwork and the collective efforts of multiple individuals. Your supervisor may reuse the same accomplishments in various NCOERs, as this is not an uncommon practice. As a general guideline, if you had any part in an achievement, whether it involved physically performing a task or being part of the team responsible, you can rightfully claim it. Therefore, claim all relevant contributions and allow your supervisor to determine their significance. Rest assured that your supervisor’s primary concern lies in obtaining sufficient material to accurately evaluate your performance, rather than meticulously analyzing each individual’s level of contribution to specific projects.
Once you have brainstormed and compiled a list of accomplishments, it is time to categorize them based on the sections required by the NCOER form:
- Character (Army values, Empathy, Discipline, SHARP, EO, and EEO)
- Presence (Military Bearing, Fitness, Confidence, Resilience)
- Intellect (Mental Ability, Judgment, Innovation, Tact, Expertise)
- Leadership (Leads by example, Builds trust, Influences, Communicates)
- Develops (Fosters a positive environment, Prepares self, Develops others)
- Achieves (Gets results)
It is possible that your list of accomplishments may not neatly fit into these predefined categories. In such cases, you may need to adapt your bullet points to align with the specified topics or explore additional achievements that fit within the required framework. For instance, if you do not hold a supervisory role, finding obvious instances of leadership may be challenging. However, thinking creatively and identifying unconventional leadership experiences can help you find suitable examples. For specific examples of NCOER bullet comments, please refer to the provided list.
If you find yourself with a limited number of accomplishments, there is some flexibility in bending the rules slightly. You can enroll in additional activities or pursuits before the end of the rating period to supplement your list of achievements. While the unit generally requires completion of the NCOER before the reporting period concludes, there is often an opportunity to enroll in a college class or participate in volunteer work such as Habitat for Humanity. Although the bullet point may indicate enrollment rather than completion, it still adds value to your NCOER. Remember, seizing every opportunity to excel is crucial.
Once you have brainstormed and compiled a suitable list of accomplishments, categorizing them into the required sections, it’s time to refine your bullet comments to make them as descriptive and impactful as possible. A significant emphasis is placed on crafting bullet comments that align with the desired rating. We will delve into this aspect further after outlining the method to maximize the effectiveness of your bullet points.
First and foremost, prioritize clarity and precision. Each bullet comment should clearly convey the nature of the accomplishment and its impact. Avoid vague language and focus on specific details that showcase your contributions. By providing concrete information, you enable the reader to understand the significance of your achievements.
Bullet Comment Format
On the NCOER, the desired writing style is the bullet comment format. This format entails using abbreviated, concise sentences. Forget about adhering strictly to proper grammar and punctuation rules. Instead, focus on presenting accomplishments in short sentence fragments, like the examples below:
- Completed over 200 reports in record time while maintaining 100% accuracy.
- Inspired peers with a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility, resulting in the highest shop production rate ever.
This writing style is adopted to conserve space on the NCOER form and convey information efficiently. It discourages lengthy descriptions and encourages a straightforward approach.
The bullet comment comprises two main parts: the accomplishment and the result. Typically, the accomplishment is listed first, followed by the positive result, as shown below:
- Conducted over 100 missions, maintaining a 99% on-time delivery rate.
A bullet comment lacking impact or result tends to be weak and vague. It leaves the reader wondering about the significance of the accomplishment. To address this, it is crucial to include the impact or result, providing answers to questions like, “Were the conducted missions exceptional? What made them special?” The impact or result provides that necessary context.
DA Pamphlet 623-3 Format Requirements
To adhere to the requirements set by DA Pamphlet 623-3, every bullet comment should start with a lowercase letter “o.” Let’s review the format specified in DA Pamphlet 623-3 para 3-7 before proceeding further:
“b. Bullet comments. Bullet comments are mandatory regardless of ratings given. Narrative rules for Part IV, bullet comments will-
(1) be short, concise, to the point. Bullets will not be longer than two lines, preferably one; and no more than one bullet to a line.
(2) Start with action words (verbs) or possessive pronouns (his or her); Personal pronouns he or she may be used; should use “past tense” when addressing NCO’s performance and/or contributions.
(3) Be double-spaced between bullets.
(4) Be preceded by a small letter “o” to designate the start of the comment. Each bullet comment must start with a small letter unless it’s a proper noun that is usually capitalized.
(5) A specific example can be used only once; therefore, the rater must decide under which responsibility the bullet fits best (or is most applicable).”
As mentioned, bullet comments can start with a verb or a possessive pronoun (his or her). However, it is generally preferable to start with a strong, direct verb for most bullets. Pronouns should only be used when necessary, such as when describing personal characteristics.
Polishing the Bullet Comments
Step 1: Merely listing achievements on the NCOER might not have the desired impact. It is essential to review each bullet comment and ensure its clarity even to readers from different occupational specialties. Take the first bullet from your list of accomplishments and rephrase it to begin with a past tense verb:
- Drove over 900 miles…
Avoid adding unnecessary qualifiers like “safely drove” or “efficiently drove.” Simply use the appropriate verb. The impact of the driving action will be described in the result portion of the bullet.
Step 2: Describe the positive effect or result of the action mentioned. Every action should have a positive result.
- …delivered more than 20 tons of critical supplies with zero equipment failures, accidents, or personnel loss.
Step 3: Combine all the elements. Each bullet should clearly communicate the action taken and its result. Once that is achieved, review the bullet to ensure accuracy and inclusion of all relevant information regarding the accomplishment. Avoid omitting any complementary aspect of the work. Was the delivery on time? Did it surpass expectations? Did it contribute to preventing disasters or ensuring success? Is the listed impact the most significant one? Are there any other noteworthy details? Here is the final draft:
- Drove over 900 miles through the most dangerous quadrant in Iraq, delivering over 20 tons of critical supplies on time without any vehicle failures, accidents, or injuries.
Repeat these steps for each bullet comment. Remember, each bullet statement should describe a positive result stemming from the listed action to remain competitive.
Each bullet comment should highlight an actual accomplishment of the ratee. Avoid using general statements like “always chooses the hard right over the easy wrong.” While it conveys an ideal, it lacks specificity for an effective NCOER and is often overused.
Avoid duplicating information already present in the Duty Description. It would be a waste of space to restate something that should already be mentioned. For instance:
- Processed award packages and handled office correspondence efficiently.
If a soldier performs such tasks within their specialty, this information should already be covered in the duty description. The NCOER has limited space, so ensure it is used effectively.
Remember that the Army values well-rounded individuals. Ensure your NCOER reflects this by including bullet statements covering all required categories and emphasizing traits currently emphasized by the Army.