What results is a person getting rated as the #1 person if they are next to leave the command, the newest Officer get #last, and everyone else just moves up in line. The numerical “GPA” system is designed the same way; “as long as you are moving to the right” is what they say about getting low scores when you check in and high when you check out. It has literally nothing to do with performance. If it did, then new guys would bump old guys backward, and that’d ruin the old guys’ chances of moving forward (even if they are slackers). It is poorly designed, executed worse, and discouraging for people who need encouraging (which I find is more and more people these days), and basically unless you are part of the Good Old Boys network, you will not break out of the Congo-line. I had a FITREP two cycles ago that said, “Only seniority separates this Officer from being my number one guy.” My next two were #1 slots because the Commodore extended me on his staff for a certain consulting project I was working on; this all hurt (my friend) the #2 guy who got two #2s in a row making it look like he wasn’t progressing. Everyone knows it is garbage, but everyone keeps doing it.
Could we do better? Sure, there is always room for improvement. The problem is that freedom and security are not tangible products. Yes, people know when they are absent, but they are of little value (to the general public) when in abundance. Since we, U.S. Navy, Inc., provide two products that do not have a ticker on the NASDAQ, it is hard to file our productive capacity into the eight categories recommended by Muchinsky (2006) in his “eight major job performance criteria” (p. 78). As a Flight Instructor I have a production goal, but am not in charge of it, so cannot be assessed based on it. I have no sales quotas to meet, no profit to create, in fact when I try to save money it means nothing. Tenure and turnover, as discussion by Muchinsky in chapter 3 do apply, but perhaps too much. The Absenteeism is a non-factor, if you don’t show up, you go to jail; we all show up. Accidents play a role, but unlike Kati Curric’s reports, they are few and far between. Like I mentioned above, we have a mature attitude about spreading lessons learned around. If you cause an accident you are out – so it is not a factor except for everyone who suddenly gets bumped up the ladder. Theft? No factor. The last two can be summed up as politics. They play a major role; get good at that, then you are good at your job. I am good at smoozing so I stay in the front of the Congo-line, but that doesn’t mean the less articulate guy four spots back isn’t a good leader too, he’s just not playing along. It’s shameful really.
I think the solution is in the 360-eval system the Navy has been talking about for years but not doing. The problem with its implementation is the debunking of the elitisms used by the people at the top (who would have to approve it) to get to the top. That is, politics and seniority got them there, so for them to accept that a better way to select leadership exists would be to admit that there are better leaders (other than themselves and their methods) out there to be selected. You have to admit you can improve before you can.
Muchinsky, P. M., (2006). Psychology Applied to Work (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson