Don’t assume, provide feedback

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kevin Watts
  • 92nd Comptroller Squadron commander
I remember wondering early on in my career if I should be receiving documented feedback, but I never asked. I was afraid that I wouldn't like what my supervisor had to say.

If you are a supervisor, the Airmen you supervise may feel the same way.

Are you providing your Airmen the appropriate level of honest feedback? If not, you're not taking care of your Airmen or the Air Force.

Per AFI 36-2406, para 2.1, "Performance feedback is a private, formal communication a rater uses to tell a ratee what is expected regarding duty performance and how well the ratee is meeting those expectations. Providing this information helps an individual contribute to positive communication, improve performance and grow professionally."

I bet there are many Airmen out there who have not received any feedback or the proper feedback, and are, unsure what's expected of them. I've heard a variety of reasons why feedbacks may not have been done. Excuses range from "I was never notified I needed" to "I talk to them all the time."

Supervisors need to do a better job providing documented feedback that outlines expectations for our Airmen and, more importantly, how they are progressing toward achieving--or hopefully exceeding--those expectations.

I've seen too many times that an Airman is surprised when they receive their final Enlisted Performance Report, thinking they were performing at a higher level, but rated at a lower level. These situations can almost always be avoided if timely and meaningful feedback is provided to our Airmen.

Personally, I seek out feedback every opportunity I get, especially documented feedbacks. This helps me ensure I'm working towards exceeding my supervisor's expectations, and that there are no surprises when it comes time for my performance report. Your Airmen may not think this way, so it's up to supervisors to take the initiative.

Don't assume that since you talk to them every day, they know how they're performing. Take the time to provide formal, documented feedback to ensure there are no misunderstandings. The time invested to conduct feedbacks will ensure clear expectations have been outlined. Not all Airmen are "Firewall 5's," but they potentially could be if the time is taken to provide honest feedback to help them understand what needs to change.

In addition, if those expectations are not met, and for some reason requires disciplinary action, you will have the documented feedbacks to support your actions.

So leaders please don't assume your Airmen know what's expected or know if they are meeting those expectations. Provide honest documented feedbacks!