Joint Base Charleston


Diamond Tip: Feedback

By Master Sgt. James Kasch | 437th Aerial Port Squadron first sergeant | June 30, 2014

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Feedback is a process in which helpful information is given to someone to say what can be done to improve a performance or product. Over the past several years the process of providing feedback to our Airmen has wavered; a change was needed. Our Airmen have voiced their opinions and concerns and the Air Force has answered.

Per the direction from the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the new and improved Airman Comprehensive Assessment worksheets hit the streets July 1. The corresponding AFI is 36-2406.

Some lucky Airmen will get to be the first to navigate this interesting process. After serving more than 20 years, I have witnessed first-hand the changes this process has undergone ... from the slide scale to the EPR-like form, and now the ACA.

For those new to the Air Force, their first feedback sessions will be eye opening. The process begins with the rater (the Airman doing the rating) sending the form to the ratee (the Airman being evaluated). The ratee is required to perform a self-assessment. Yes, the ratee is as responsible for this process as the rater. Each question must be answered to determine if additional information is needed for the rater to communicate effectively with the ratee. This is an excellent opportunity for the ratee to provide some self-reflection on how they perceive themselves in the process.

One question that arose during the development of the ACA is "could an Airman face punishment for anything not mentioned in the self-assessment that unravels later?"

The ACA was not developed to force Airmen to divulge potential incriminating information. It was developed to be a more effective communication tool for raters to mentor and develop Airmen. As the ratee completes Section III, it is imperative that he/she answers the questions openly and honestly. There are only two choices for each answer, Answering "Y" means yes, the ratee understands the question. Answering "N" means the ratee needs more information. Let me clarify, it does not mean no.

Once the ratee completes the Airman returns the form to the rater. The rater then completes additional sections and prepares a proper location to conduct the feedback session. The timeline for feedback sessions has not changed. Like before, initial feedback sessions are conducted within 60 days of assuming rater responsibility and midway through the rating period. Properly conducted feedback sessions should lay out the rater's expectations and follow-up sessions should either confirm the initial or provide guidance to the ratee for course corrections.

Hopefully some of the information provided can give you a small insight into the purpose of feedback and the reason for the ACA. Again, review AFI 36-2406 Guidance Memorandum 3 for more questions. The memorandum provides step-by-step instructions on the entire process.

I am looking forward to my first feedback session and fielding questions from those who may need some initial help in this process. So here is one final thought: don't wait for the mandatory feedback sessions to obtain information about your performance and take control of your career. Own this process.

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