Arrington Career/Transition Tip Series Article 4

Arrington Career/Transition Tip Series Article 4

Congratulations: You have found the Arrington Career/Transition Tip series. I believe this will be helpful because I notice people making decisions without necessarily knowing there are additional steps they can do to help their chances at successfully landing. So, I’ve created these tips and placed them in article form for ease of discovery.

Career/Transition Tip #4

Welcome to the Company, and Thank You for your military service…now submit your annual performance review…it’s B.A.U.! ?????

Oh no…wait, what is B.A.U. as you just grasp what your newly acquired manager just requested, and your coworker shrugs and drops those last two words “It’s B.A.U.” on you (only one you know the meaning of..and it is not the B.A.U. acronym).

Great, I know how to write an Air Force annual evaluation report and have a PhD in splicing AIR (Action, Impact, Result) bullets together from years of recycling words from my past evaluation reports and those I’ve tactically acquired from peers and any other reports accidentally placed or left on the shared drive…if you just chuckled, you understand!

Oh crud, why is there no shared drive to teach me what a civilian evaluation looks like? Wait, I’ve been here 5 months…I don’t even know what I do here yet…! I didn’t get a FORM to fill out! Should I ask what the TEMPLATE needs to look like? Is there even a TEMPLATE? Will I look stupid asking? Maybe I can ask my three coworkers that are both (in job title) “senior managers” but they keep calling me a peer (shouldn’t Sr Manager mean they outrank me even if I’m not their Direct Report?; why do they keep calling me a peer when I want to be subservient to them in the work-center)! Wait…what if they laugh at me for asking them these questions..? Wait…what does B.A.U. mean?

…This is what ran through my head in only the two minute aftermath of receiving the group work-center email that instructed the whole team to submit our annual performance reviews to our manager by the end of the week! ???

If you are still reading, and you are a transitioning service member, then you are probably an anxious wreck right now! Well good, because that means you have a vested interest in learning how I overcame this OPPORTUNITY to excel!

If you are still reading, and you are an already seasoned professional and prior service member, perhaps nostalgia just kicked in on your first experience with the “Performance Review Due” request. (P.S. please write down on a quick note right now your immediate memory that just popped in your head so you don’t lose it, and you can then share your experience with us in the comment section after you get through this article…I don’t want you to forget to share that raw emotion and memory you just had).

If you are still reading, and you are a service member with years to go before transitioning, you have probably just made a note to copy every evaluation report from the shared drive tomorrow at work so you have a single drive repository of ideas for your future.

…and if you are still reading this and just started with a company, you are probably hooked on this article to find out how you are going to solve this OPPORTUNITY that you, up to this point in your new career, had not even thought of…trust me, I didn’t think about Annual Evaluation Reports (Performance Reviews/Evaluations in civilian speak) when I started working either. Oh..and you are still dying to know what B.A.U. means..!

So what did I do… I first got up and walked over to the coworker that said “It’s B.A.U.” and I said to him…”I know A.U. stands for Accounting Unit when dealing with financial funding requests, but I can’t figure out B.A.U. Does that mean Business Accounting Unit, or what?” Looking perplexed at me, he then smiled, remembered that I’m a foreigner that had just been dropped in the middle of (insert scary foreign country ____) without an understanding of the culture, language, currency, and am on pins and needles not to mess up because I have 6 kids and a wife to take care of in this new land (post-military)…and he utters the words “Business As Usual.”

It means, this is part of the daily routine and is not something out of the ordinary.

Transitioning service members and newcomer military spouses to the workforce that are reading this, prepare to hear that saying a lot during your new career in the civilian life! I thanked him and then headed back to my computer to work the next piece of this new puzzle…how do I write a performance evaluation on myself after only 5-months here and without knowing what it is supposed to look like, what my actual job fully entails as a Business Initiatives Consultant, is there a way it must look, what language do I use, are there keywords I must put on my review, do I put a job description like the top of my past 20-years of annual Air Force Evaluation Reports that is required before you even start adding bullets, oh no, where is the link on the portal that my manager took me to one week on the job to see where my performance metrics were located (during our initial sit down after I started), will he THINK LESS of me if I ask him where to find it because it’s been 15 minutes and I can’t find this link anywhere (even with keyword searches for “evaluation” “performance” “annual report”…and lots of other combinations of phrases), do I ask my coworkers for help or is that not allowed, is that considered collaboration on Performance Reviews and taboo in the civilian world because nobody tells anyone their salary?

Well, I SEE THEM (my coworkers) as the E-5s (Front line Supervisors) in the work-center because their title are Sr managers and they work for my manager too and I SEE MYSELF as the newly minted E-3. This makes me immediately want to report to them too but all efforts have failed to make them see me as subservient in position to them..I don’t get this, I want them in my chain of command…stop saying you are my peer! Now 20-minutes has gone by since that request for my Performance Review. Guess what, I am 100% in my own head right now and you know what I haven’t done yet…any quality work because I’m trying to figure out how NOT TO FAIL on this task that isn’t due until the following week! Silly, right?

I take a note down, Note: Talk to my two coworkers later today and ask for guidance with the following questions:

1. So in the Air Force, we have specific templates that we are required to use for our annual evaluations. Do we use a template here and if so, can you show me where it is and how to use it?

2. On the Performance Review, how many job actions does it need to include? How do you quantify results to show it helped the company?

3. Do you know where I can find the list of my job expectations to use as a guide to match up to as I’m working on what I’ve worked on and completed in these 5 months?

4. I received three work success e-cards from others in the company over these past 5-months for helping them, what do they mean and do I email these to our manager, put them on my Performance Review, or are they not important?

5. Am I allowed to show you my completed Performance Review to get guidance and add proper vernacular related to our industry and company before I submit it?

Once these questions were written down, my stress level went from 130% to 80%. Yeah it’s unrealistic for me to tell you that you aren’t going to stress at this point, but guess what dropping from 130 to 80 did? It allowed me to get back to work and FOCUS on the reason THEY HIRED me in first place! To create solutions or coach others to reach solutions to Business Initiative problems that no one else has been able to solve! Writing this framework down was my first step to solve my own Business Problem…this was my Define phase! I had just started working on defining my problem and finding the “whys” to help me solve it! Now I could move on!

After a focused day, I then was able to approach both coworkers individually, because I wanted to see different points of view to broaden my understanding of this process and compare advice.

Answers were near identical:

1. There is No Template, just send an EMAIL to the manager with a list of all work actions and accomplishments with work-type tasks, actions and results (sounds like AIR to me [Action, IMPACT, RESULT..sweet), leadership, and community involvement. (I’ve seen this before! YES!!!)

2. Put as many bullets as you can. He will refine or remove if he needs to for your report submittal. Make sure you look at who the stakeholder was you were helping on your project, and what customer they serve both inside the company and to the paying customer or client. Then identify how many man-hours you put in to the work to solve the problem and that is how many man-hours you saved that Line of Business and enabled them to FOCUS on their primary profit yielding role for the company.

Did you guide them to solve the problem or did you do it on your own (both are good outcome!)? Can you quantify dollars saved, or inefficiencies removed? Can you identify what those inefficiencies cost the company in man-hours and D.O.W.N.T.I.M.E. (Defects, Over-production, Waiting, Non-utilized talent, Transportation excess, Inventory excess, Motion excess, Extra-processing), did you exceed metrics by a certain percentage? Did you help your work-center earn a best in business/company award? How many customers did you service this year? Did you earn recognition or bring in new clients because of your efforts? If so, how many and what kind of profit did it yield? What was the ROI (Return on Investment) for an innovative or risk-based move you made? How many did you lead or support in accomplishing their metrics for the company? Volunteer hours, money donated, money raised..etc (Sound familiar now? You’ve been here before, but instead of mission success bullets as the result it is now Profit-Loss margin metrics)?

3. Hmm, I have to find that again too, it’s been a long time since I visited that link. I’ll find it and get it to you by tomorrow (and they did).

4. I’ve been here over 10 years and I’ve never received one. Great Job! Definitely save them, send a copy in with your performance review email and ensure you write bullets on the actions that led to you receiving each card and from whom.

5. You can absolutely share it with us and we will be happy to give suggestions if you want them.


This all took place a month ago and I will not know the results/grade of my finalized version approved by my management team until probably February or March. I’m hoping we get to review them, and then keep them as references to grow professionally.

I hope this article provided a small sense of what to expect with your first Performance Review and gave you the ability to start preparing your writing strategy before you’ve even left the service. If you had a similar or even polar opposite experience, please share in the comments so that we can all learn together how different companies and work-centers tackle Performance Reviews so we can give the greatest exposure on this topic for generations of transitioning service members to come.

Thank you for reading and if you found value in this, please also comment below or let me know what you wish I covered, if not satisfied.

As Always:

#How_Can_I_Help? #Pay_It_Forward

Originally posted on LinkedIn at