Military Performance Appraisal Made Simple – How to Write Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs)

Military Performance Appraisal Made Simple 

How to Write Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) 

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/10/military-performance-appraisal-in.html

This morning I read an article titled “Time to Reflect, Review and Renew Indian Military Officers Promotion Policy” in the October 2016 issue of Fauji India Magazine (pp 61-63, Fauji India Magazine, Vol 2, Issue 11, October 2016)

The article is a discussion on an acerbic critique by an eminent economist who flayed the upper echelons of India’s Military as “visible dense” and “obviously incompetent”. He further opined that these “uninspiring leaders” rose in service by managing to get good ACRs year after year with “bland obsequiousness”.

The article has an interesting debate and discussion featuring diverse views on the ACR system by various distinguished Military Veterans – and – while giving his views in repsonse – an Admiral even admits that there may be a “kernel of truth” in the perceptions of the eminent ecomomist.

Reading the interesting article reminded me of a “Humor in Uniform” Story I had written on the subject sometime back.

Dear Reader – Here is the story…

HOW TO WRITE ANNUAL CONFIDENTIAL REPORT (ACR) 

Humor in Uniform

A Story of 3 ACRs 

Fictional Spoof By VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer: This is a fiction story – an imaginary fantasy “fairy tale” – and – this humorous fictional spoof is only for those with a “sense of humor”

PROLOGUE

Once upon a time – there existed a mythical country.

Like all countries – that imaginary country too had a military – which comprised officers and soldiers.

This apocryphal military had a fictitious Human Resource Management (HRM) System.

And – in order to facilitate the selection of the best officers to the “top brass” – this imaginary military of the mythical country had a fictitious performance appraisal system which was breathtaking in its simplicity.

Every year – the immediate boss of an officer (called Initiating Officer or IO) wrote an annual performance appraisal report – called ACR (Annual Confidential Report) – on the officer being reported upon.

In optimal harmony with “military intellect” – the ACR was a simple document – easy to complete in a few minutes – with minimal strain on the brain.

Officers were assessed on a 9 point scale (1 to 9 points) – with “9” points being for “outstanding” performance – “5” points for “average” performance (during the one year period of assessment) – and – “1” point being for extremely “poor” performance.

An ACR with less than 5 points (4 points and below) was considered an “adverse” report.

Depending on his assessment of the officer’s performance during the preceding year – the Initiating Officer (IO) awarded the officer the points he deserved (from 1 to 9).

Then – the IO forwarded the ACR to his boss in a sealed envelope.

The boss of the IO (immediate boss) was called Reviewing Officer (RO).

The RO reviewed the ACR initiated by the IO – and – the RO – in turn – forwarded the “Reviewed ACR” up the hierarchical chain to his boss – the Senior Reviewing Officer (SRO).

The Reviewing Officer (RO) and Senior Reviewing Officer (SRO) were supposed to “moderate” the report – however – in most cases – the RO/SRO endorsed the same points as given the IO – but – in some cases – if they felt that the IO had been too “generous” or unduly “stingy” in marking – the RO/SRO sometimes changed the points up or down as per their judgement.

The points awarded by the SRO were final.

The SRO sent the ACR to Headquarters (HQ) – and – the ACR was duly recorded.

(Remember – the “C” in ACR stood for “Confidential” – so the ACR was treated as a confidential document – to be seen only on a “need to know” basis).

When an officer was due for promotion to the next rank (as per his batch seniority) – the average of his points in all his ACRs in his current rank was calculated.

This was done for all officers in the batch – a merit list was made out – and – depending on expected vacancies in the next rank in the following year – a “cut off” point was decided.

Officers whose “ACR average” was above the “cut off” point were placed on the “select list”.

These “select” officers were promoted to the next rank as and when vacancies arose.

The remaining officers (whose “ACR average” was below “cut off”) were duly “passed over” for promotion – ruthlessly thrown by the wayside – cast away from the “rat race” – and these unfortunate “written off” officers spent rest of the military careers in obscurity – stigmatized as “superseded officers”.

That – in a nutshell – was – once upon a time – the apocryphal promotion system in the imaginary military of the mythical country.

Dear Reader – let me once again reiterate – that – the apocryphal performance appraisal system mentioned above is fictional – a figment of my imagination – and – resemblance – if any – to any system – past, present or futuristic – is purely coincidental.

And – the story I am about to tell you – is a spoof – pure fiction – an apocryphal “fairy tale” – that happened – “once upon a time” – at a fictitious place – in the imaginary military – of a mythical country.

STORY OF 3 ACRS

The RO (Reviewing Officer) had summoned the IO (Initiating Officer) to discuss 3 ACRs.

The conversation between the RO and IO was as follows:

RO: I am not happy with the way you have filled up ACRs – especially on these 3 Officers – “A” – “B” – and – “C”.

IO: Why Sir…? I have filled up the ACRs objectively.

RO: Don’t give me bullshit. Is this the first time you are writing ACRs…?

IO: Yes, Sir.

RO: No wonder you are clueless…!!!  Let me explain to you – one by one…

IO: Yes, Sir…

ACR No. 1 – ACR of “A”

RO: Let’s start with the ACR of “A”

IO: Yes, Sir.

RO: You have given “A” a bloody “Nine-Pointer ACR” – are you crazy…? Does that idiot deserve “9 Points”…?

IO: Sir – “A” is the most outstanding officer in my unit.

RO: “Outstanding” – My Foot…!!!  I can’t stand the sight of that conceited bugger…

IO: Sir – “A” is highly professionally competent…

RO: So – what is so great about that…? Every bloody Officer is supposed to be professionally competent. Have you seen his haughty “Body Language”…?

IO: “Body Language”…?

RO: Yes – “A” has rude “Body Language” – especially in front of his seniors. I just don’t like the way he pompously swaggers around.

IO: Sir – I agree that “A” walks a bit robustly. But, Sir – “A” has good “Military Bearing”.

RO: Strutting around pompously is not “Military Bearing”. Do you understand…? I have been observing “A” and his impertinent behaviour – he is arrogant bugger who thinks he is too damn smart.

IO: Arrogant…?

RO: Yes – “A” is an arrogant “showoff” – he needs to be put in his place – the haughty braggart thinks he is a “know-it-all” – he tries to “overshadow” his superior officers

IO: Overshadow…?

RO: Don’t you remember how he made me look like a laughing stock in front of everyone…?

IO: Laughing Stock…? When, Sir…?

RO: During that exercise – when the Chief was there – I was making an important point – and – this bloody idiot “A” – he contradicted me in front of the Chief – and – he made me look like a fool – everyone was laughing at me – and – even the Chief made a sarcastic comment to me that I needed to brush up on my professional knowledge…

IO: Sir – but “A” was right…

RO: So…? He could have kept his trap shut. Officers are supposed to have “Tact” – and – your “A” certainly doesn’t have any bloody “Tact” – he is most ill-mannered – and – have you seen his disgraceful demeanor – his appalling “body language” – it is most inappropriate – I think he has got an attitudinal problem. And – you want to give him a “Nine-Pointer ACR”…? Giving “A” 9 Points is most ridiculous – bring him down to “6 Points”.

IO: Sir – you want to give “A” only 6 Points in his ACR…? Sir – that will be injustice…

RO: What bloody “injustice”…? The stuck-up bugger deserves an adverse report. But – I am not asking you to give him an adverse report. I am just asking you to lower his points a bit.

IO: Sir – 6…?

RO: Okay – since you like “A” so much – give him 7 – but – counsel him to improve his “Officer Like Qualities” – I expect to see better OLQ from him in future …

IO: Sir – 7 – counselling – OLQ…? Sir – I think…

RO: Don’t argue with me – you just do as you are told – do you understand…?

IO: But, Sir…

RO: I haven’t got time to waste – now let’s discuss this other case of gross over-marking of ACR by you…

ACR No. 2 – ACR of “B”

RO: And this Officer – “B” – why have you given him such a good ACR…?

IO: Sir – “B” is a very good officer. Sir – even his “body language” is docile…

RO: He may be okay – but – what about his wife…?

IO: His wife…?

RO: Yes – his wife – have you noticed how “over-smart” she is…?

IO: Sir – “over-smart”…?

RO: Yes – have you seen the way she flaunts her wealth – the way she zips around in her fancy luxury car…?

IO: Sir – that is her company car – that luxury car has been given to Mrs. “B” by her company…

RO: I know – we all know that Mrs. “B” works in a fancy MNC – for an obscene salary – but – that doesn’t mean she has to undermine my status…

IO: What…? Mrs. “B”…? She “undermined your status”…?

RO: Yes – Mrs. “B” overtook my staff car this morning – she honked her horn loudly – and – she brazenly overtook my staff car – driving in a most rash manner…

IO: Sir – she may not have noticed…

RO: Of course she knows it is my staff car – can’t she see the “star plate” on the car –Mrs. “B” did it on purpose – just to “cock a snook” at me…

IO: Sir – she may have been in a hurry to work – your staff car is quite old and your driver drives very slowly…

RO: Why are you trying to defend her misdemeanor…? This is not the first time Mrs. “B” has overtaken me – she had done it many times – even in the city. I am the bloody “Station Commander” out here – and everyone has to give me due respect…

IO: Yes, Sir…

RO: That is not all. My wife – she happens to be the “Senior Lady” out here – my wife has repeatedly complained that Mrs. “B” is rude, insolent and ill-mannered…

IO: Sir – I don’t think Mrs. “B” can ever be ill-mannered – she is a most polished, elegant and refined lady – I have observed that she has impeccable social graces…

RO: Oh – Ho – “polished – elegant – refined – impeccable social graces” – tell me – why are you “batting” for Mrs. “B” so much…? Is there something…

IO: Sir – please. I was just saying that she has social graces…

RO: You say she has “social graces” – then – how come she is so “anti-social” on the “social front”…?

IO: “Anti-social”…?

RO: Yes – my wife says that Mrs. “B” did not attend even a single Ladies Club meeting – nor does she take part in any “welfare” activity…

IO: Sir – Mrs. “B” is a busy working woman with a full-time career…

RO: We know all that – okay – maybe she can’t attend morning meetings – but – she doesn’t participate in evening events too – do you know – she refused to take part in the “fashion show” and “group dance”…

IO: Sir – “fashion show” – “group dance”…?

RO: Are you trying to act dumb…? I am talking about that grand “Husbands’ Night” function we hosted – when all the “big-wigs” and their lady-wives had been invited – and – all the ladies were performing on the stage – and Mrs. “B” was sitting snootily in the audience – and that too in the second row – as if she was a “senior lady”…

IO: Sir…

RO: And – that is not all – when my wife asked Mrs. “B” why she was refusing to participate in the fashion-show and dance – Mrs. “B” passed some sarcastic remarks that she was a “professional career woman” and she wasn’t keen on such “frivolous activities” like “walking-the-ramp” or “dancing” in public on stage. I don’t care if Mrs. “B” is a “hot shot” in the corporate sector – but she is a “military wife” – and that too – she is the wife of a junior officer. How dare she call all other military wives as “frivolous”…? She does not show due respect to my wife and other senior ladies too…

IO: Sir – with due respect – we are discussing the ACR of “B” – not his wife…

RO: I know – but – it seems you do not appreciate the importance of a “lady-wife” in her husband’s career. Ah – now I know why you are so clueless about these things – you are bachelor – aren’t you…?

IO: Yes, Sir – I am a bachelor…

RO: How old are you…?

IO: I am 36 years old, Sir…

RO: 36…? Tell me – why didn’t you get married…? Some problem…?

IO: No, Sir…

RO: Well – if you know what’s good for you – you better get married – yes – if you want to rise in service – you better get married fast – and – make sure you get a suitable wife with LLQ…

IO: “LLQ”…?

RO: LLQ means “Lady Like Qualities” – just like Officers must have “Officer Like Qualities” or OLQ – Military Wives must have “Lady Like Qualities” or LLQ – so get a suitable wife with LLQ – otherwise – if you get a “militarily incompatible wife” likeMrs. “B” – you will be “written off” – like “B”

IO: Sir – with due respect – ACRs are to be written on “demonstrated performance” of the officer…

RO: Ha Ha Ha – “demonstrated performance” – well – I haven’t seen the officer “demonstrating” any performance – but let me educate you about the “demonstrated performance” of his wife…

IO: Sir…?

RO: Are you aware that – just last month – Mrs. “B” gave an interview to a leading women’s magazine…?

IO: Yes, Sir – in the series of “women achievers”…

RO: Let me read out what Mrs. “B” said when she was asked about her being a military wife:

“…I may have married a military officer – but – I have not married the military – so – I resent being called a “military wife” – I am a successful career woman with my own achievements. My husband has his own military career – and – I have my own successful career in the corporate sector – I have my own independent identity – I do not need the crutches of my husband’s military rank – I am not “Arm Candy”…”

Isn’t this most insulting – she is implying that all other military wives are “Arm Candy – in fact – she is tarnishing the image of the service…

IO: Please, Sir – she has just expressed her views – I don’t think she is tarnishing…

RO: Of course – she is spoiling the image of the service – this Mrs. “B” – also – it has been brought to my notice that she keeps writing all sorts of nonsense on the internet – someone told my wife that she has a “Bog” where she writes all this rubbish which shows the service in poor light…

IO: Sir – it’s “Blog” – not “Bog” – yes – Mrs. “B” has a Blog…

RO: I have heard that she writes inflammatory articles trying to incite young military wives…

IO: Not at all, Sir – she writes in a humorous vein – she writes spoofs…

RO: How do you know all this…?

IO: Sir – I read her blogs…

RO: Oh – you seem to be smitten by her…

IO: Sir – please… I think you should stick to the point…

RO: Okay – I will stick to the point. The point is that I am not happy with “B” because of the unbecoming conduct of his wife which is tarnishing the image of the service – and also – I am not happy because of her refusal to participate in social activities which are “part and parcel” of military social life and the duty of every military wife…

IO: Sir, Please – How can an officer be judged by the conduct of his wife…? And – how does a wife’s participation in social activities reflect on an officer’s capability…?

RO: Listen – you stop arguing with me – I haven’t got all day – as far as “B” is concerned – just lower his ACR to “6 Points” – or better still – give him 5 – that’s final – and – now – let’s discuss this most important case of “C” – it seems to be a case of “vindictive under-marking” of ACR…

ACR No. 3 – ACR of “C”

RO: I am astonished – you have given “C” a “Five-Pointer” ACR – do you know what “5 Points” means…?

IO: Sir – “5 Points” means “Average”.

RO: Don’t give me bullshit…

IO: Sir – that is what is written…

RO: I don’t care what is written. With just this one “Five-Pointer ACR” – this officer will be “written-off”…

IO: This Officer – “C” – he deserves to be “written-off”. Sir – professionally – he is totally incompetent – and – as far as man-management is concerned – he was responsible for near-mutiny conditions and I had to intervene. Sir – “C” deserves an “adverse report” – much lower than 5 Points – but – I have been lenient…

RO: Are you really that stupid…? Or – are you just acting dumb…?

IO: Why, Sir…?

RO: Do you know that “C” is the son-in-law of the Senior Reviewing Officer (SRO)…?

IO: Yes, Sir – I know that the SRO is his father-in-law – but I have written C’s ACR as per his demonstrated performance…

RO: Bloody hell – you are back again on the “demonstrated performance” track…

IO: Sir – “C” is a really bad officer – apart from his professional incompetence and ineptitude in man-management – even his moral…

RO: I know everything about “C” – but – I have assured his father-in-law that he will get a thumping ACR…

IO: Sir – how can you…?

RO: My Dear Friend – as far as “C” is concerned – do you know that his father-in-law happens to my IO – and your RO…?

IO: Yes, Sir…

RO: So – if you know what’s good for you – just raise “C” to “9 Points”…

IO: Sir – you want me to give a “Nine-Pointer” ACR to “C”…?

RO: Okay – give him an “8” – I will raise it to “9”…

IO: But, Sir…?

RO: Let me tell you that I am most disappointed with the way you have written ACRs. These two officers – “A” (Body Language) – and – “B” (Over-Smart Wife) – you have given them excellent ACRs – whereas – for “C” (Son-in-Law) – you have given him a “lukewarm” ACR. You have done exactly the opposite of what I wanted. You should have discussed with me before writing the ACRs – instead – you just wrote the ACRs and sent them to me in a sealed envelope…

IO: Sir – as per the rules…

RO: Don’t try to teach me rules about ACRs – I have written ACRs as IO for donkey’s years – and now – I have reviewed hundreds of ACRs as RO. Since this is the first time you are writing ACRs as an IO – I will pardon you for your ignorance. Come on – take back these ACRs – and – rewrite them – you know what I want.

IO: Sir – you are the RO – you can give whatever points you want.

RO: It will look bad if there is a difference in IO and RO points. What will the SRO think…? It will appear that we don’t agree with each other. We must be on the same page – at least – we must appear to be on the same page. Do you understand…? Don’t be dogmatic – be pragmatic – just do as I say – come on – take back these ACRs – and – rewrite them as I have told you…

I wish I could have given this fantasy “fairy tale” a “fairy tale ending”.

But – Dear Reader – I will leave the ending to your imagination.

Tell me – Dear Reader – suppose you were the IO in this story – what would you do…?

Would you be “dogmatic”…?

Or – would you be “pragmatic”…?

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:

  1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

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This is a repost of my story HOW TO WRITE ACRS posted online by me Vikram Karve earlier at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/09/humor-in-uniform-how-to-write-acrs.html

2 Comments »

  1. 1
    Jyothi Says:

    Has anyone from the Olive Green fraternity given you any feed back

    Like


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