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Set your Airmen up for success

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Marty Anderson
  • 90th Missile Wing command chief
All of our Airmen want to be productive and contribute to our critical nuclear mission, but they need to know what is expected of them, and they need to receive critical information to help them be successful in our Air Force. Feedback is a key component in meeting both of these expectations.

Even though we are busy, we must find time to sit down with each member and provide direct and honest feedback on how to be better than he or she already is. The feedback should be more than just job performance. It should help develop a plan to address an Airman's personal and professional goals. It should explain roles and responsibilities as an Airman in the United States Air Force.

If you are supervisor and it has been longer than six months since you provided your Airmen feedback, you are failing to meet one of your primary responsibilities. If your feedbacks are 20 minutes or less, are you really setting your Airmen up for success? The Air Force expectsyour best in order for each member to positively contribute to the Air Force mission.

During the initial feedback, it is important to complete this session right away so the ratee knows what to expect and starts out on the right foot. It is helpful to begin with general questions to learn a little about them, but then ask what their professional goals are and talk about how to develop a road map to achieve those goals.

But, this one question in itself will lead to developing a framework for the rest of the feedback.

For example, an Airman arrives at Warren after graduating technical school. One of the Airman's first goals is to be promoted to senior airman below-the-zone. What does it take to be competitive? I would imagine you came up with the whole-person concept: job, community involvement and significant self-improvement.

How long do you think that takes? I assure you it will take longer than 15 to 20 minutes. A good supervisor is going to tell the Airman what the minimum standards are, and then give recommendations on how to exceed those standards in order for the ratee to have the tools to achieve their personal and professional goals.

A new Airman does not fully understand the enlisted evaluation system, promotion system, assignments or career opportunities. It is your responsibility as a rater to ensure the member understands the impact to his or her career. I guarantee if done right, you will have a highly motivated and productive Airman.

During midcourse feedback, the feedback should be very candid in how the person is doing in relationship to their goals, as well as job and conduct standards. During initial feedback I always ask the question, "What do you expect from me?" The answer I usually get is, "Be honest and upfront and tell me if I am messing up, or how I can do things better."

This is important so they understand that you will be candid with them because you want the Airman to be successful. Take the time to explain areas where they are doing well. Explain areas needing improvement and lastly, areas in which they excel, so the session is ended on a positive note.

During the entire feedback session, relate their performance toward their professional goals. I find doing this creates personal responsibility and motivation toward implementing the suggested ideas for improvement.

After the enlisted performance report is completed, the follow-up feedback session is a combination of the above information in providing straight-forward feedback with goals and expectations for the new reporting period. The feedback session should be postured in a manner that creates motivation toward mission accomplishment, while striving to help the Airman meet their personal and professional goals.

Feedbacks should include the following areas: personal and professional goals, job standards, conduct standards, promotion system, job opportunities, special duty assignments, assignments, Air Force programs and expectations of the rater. This will take longer than 20 minutes. I truly believe if all supervisors take a more professional involvement in truly developing their ratees, the Air Force will be a more productive force while exceeding mission requirements and meeting personal goals.