By Chief Master Sgt. Charles Fletcher
314th Maintenance Group Superintendent
Conducting performance feedback is one of the most important aspects of Airmen development but one that is widely neglected. The success of our goal oriented performance appraisal system is based on setting attainable goals, mentoring, reinforcing positive behaviors, giving immediate and honest feedback, as well as developing an accurate goal based rewards system which is essential to the ultimate success of our Airmen and U.S. Air Force.
No matter where you are in an organization, performance feedback is essential to your professional growth. For our junior enlisted Airmen, feedback is most important to get them acclimated to military life and set standards and goals for them to strive for. Our junior NCO’s need constant feedback on how they should lead our Airmen and progress in their own careers. SNCO’s need feedback on how to develop their subordinates and how to lead their work centers. And believe it or not, Chiefs need feedback too. Sometimes the higher you are in an organization, the less feedback you actually get. Bottom line: EVERYONE NEEDS FEEDBACK.
There are many things that get in the way of feedback, but none are acceptable. Not only is it an Air Force requirement, but it is critical to the professional growth of our Airmen. Many times supervisors gloss over feedbacks but don’t really go into depth on where and how an Airman can improve. Many supervisors find giving negative feedback is uncomfortable and as a result they avoid it. Feedback must be honest, timely and comprehensive in order for it to be effective. Discussing goals, how subordinate performance stacks against peers, and specific behaviors required for improvement is necessary to propel Airman to higher levels. This feedback needs to happen at specific intervals per AFI, but that shouldn’t tie supervisors hands. You should give feedback any time you think it is needed, and not only for negative behavior, but just as importantly, to reinforce positive performance. Also, keep in mind that feedback isn’t limited to just the written form. Some of the most important feedback can take place during normal everyday conversation.
Remember, as the subordinate you can ask for feedback anytime. In fact, if you are unclear on expectations and direction I highly encourage you to do just that. Grab your supervisor and ask for a feedback. In fact, you should fight for feedback often. Don’t wait until your EPR is due to realize that you have missed the mark. You are responsible for knowing where your performance stands and what is required for you to become successful and excel.