An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

What happened to our feedback system?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sergeant Terence Anderson
  • Air Force Network Integration Center
Good morning Senior Airman Snuffy. It's time for your initial feedback session; see you in my office at 1000 hours. Far too often, as these feedback sessions conclude, I am informed by the ratee, that it is the first formal feedback session they've ever received. Our Airmen have heard about our feedback system; unfortunately, many of them don't even know what a true feedback is and why is that the case? What happened to our feedback system? Inexplicably, both the method and manner have been lost. With all the personnel shuffle and changes in technology, we've lost the mechanism to notify supervisors of their duty to provide feedback. While these events have occurred, they don't alleviate our responsibility as supervisors to provide valuable feedback to our Airmen.

AFI 36-2406, Table 2.1 states that "the rater must conduct the intial feedback within the first 60 days he or she initially begins supervision, and then again at approximately 180 days after the initial session." You are also directed to perform a follow-up feedback when the ratee's report is written without a change of rater. During this time, ratees should take time to read and ensure that the information is accurate and that there aren't duplicate lines of information included in the report. The ratings in the performance report should not be a surprise to the ratee if the supervisor performs feedbacks properly and when required. Ratees also need to understand while a formal feedback session may not have been conducted, this does not allow for rebuttal of the overall report.

I've heard many supervisors say that they provide informal verbal feedback on a daily basis and therefore don't feel that formal feedback is needed. Informal feedback sessions have their use, but the formal feedback session is critical component in the continuous development of our Airmen, both personally and professionally. This process explains duty performance, outlines sets expectations, and informs the ratee how they measured up to those expectations and reinforces the path to continuous development in the future. It is our duty as leaders and mentors to sit with our Airmen, lay out our expectations and give them a report card of how well they are achieving performance goals, adhering to standards and specifically tell the Airmen how they can improve. Without this information, subordinates have no idea where they stand or what they need to do to improve their performance.

Communicating expectations and goals to your Airmen arms them with the information necessary to reach goals on the upcoming report and throughout their careers. If there is a big surprise on the performance report, then we have failed as supervisors.

Have you ever had a boss that subscribes to the "guess what I'm thinking" style of leadership? We fail our Airmen when we allow them to go through their careers guessing or assuming how they are doing in the workplace or how their performance will be rated. Supervisors need to understand that it shouldn't take a personnel system to prompt you when to accomplish a feedback. It is the responsibility bestowed upon all of us as supervisors.

We have to remember that feedbacks should be a two-way conversation and encourage our Airmen to tell us what help they need. Feedback fosters an environment for relationship building. There is something to be said about looking your subordinate in the eye and finding out truly how they are doing; this is good old fashioned leadership.

I ask all supervisors and mentors to never stop taking care of our Airmen and continuously provide the leadership and guidance our Airmen richly deserve.