The annual merit boards

Warrant Officer (WO) Paul Detton has been anxiously waiting for his supervisor, Major (Maj) Sue Pinkus, to approach him and schedule a meeting to talk about the upcoming formation-level ranking boards. With history as his guide, the Warrant knows that each year at this time the Major will ask him to reflect on his activities over the past year and provide her with information about his activities and accomplishments, in effect, provide what is commonly referred to as a ‘brag sheet’. In theory, once Maj Pinkus has received WO Detton’s brag sheet, she will be able to speak knowingly and confidently at the Unit Merit Board about WO Detton’s demonstrated performance in the previous 12 months and his potential for moving up in rank. Importantly, she will also use the information to complete the internal Unit scoring matrix, which will rank WO Detton and position him according to his peers.

The Unit scoring matrix is a complex document which supervisors use to ‘score’ their subordinates on a variety of critical skills and attributes, such as leadership, communication in written and verbal format, as well as planning and organizational abilities. In addition, professional development information, such as language profile, and academic and military course completion, is also required. Once at the Unit Merit Board, these factors and others are presented by the supervisors, who will then rank their respective subordinates and ultimately assign a numerical value for each subordinate’s overall ranking within the Unit. As WO Detton knows, substantial justification is required to achieve high scores at the Merit Board.

With the Merit Board only a week away, WO Detton, unable to wait any longer, approaches Maj PInkus and asks if she needs any information from him in order to prepare his file for the Board. With some embarrassment, Maj Pinkus acknowledges that she had completely forgotten about the Board. She ponders this for a moment, moves to her computer and pulls up the Unit scoring matrix.  Looking over her computer at WO Detton, she comments, “You’ve accomplished a great deal this year, I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t ensure that this matrix was filled out to your maximal advantage. I’ll tell you what, I’ll email it to you and you complete it for me, make sure you score yourself high in the leadership sections, we want to get you promoted.”

Paul’s automatic response is “Yes Ma’am, I’ll start right away.” But as he leaves Maj Pinkus’ office, he can’t help reflecting on the old adage “you’re your own best career manager” and thinking that he really isn’t sure that this was how it was meant to be applied.

What would you do in WO Detton’s situation?

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