The importance of quality feedback

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- When was the last time you received feedback? How often do you receive feedback? Was it formal or informal? Was it meaningful?

Feedback is vital for the success of all our Airmen. Feedback should be a tool utilized to ensure people know what is expected of them along with how they are performing. Here are too many times when members are getting feedback that is not honest or meaningful. Is it just checking a box? How can we expect to grow our leaders if we can’t give honest feedback? How can we successfully complete the mission without knowing if we are meeting the intent of the mission?

A while back ago I remember giving a mid-term feedback that was not very favorable. When we were going over it, the member was surprised. He could not believe I was giving him this negative feedback. He stated that he had never been told such things before. I showed him the initial feedback and pointed out my expectations and explained where he was falling short on meeting them.

This surprise got me wondering if I was being too harsh. Was I clear enough on the initial feedback? I remember thinking back to all the informal feedback I was giving the member as the year was going on. It then hit me that it was apparent he was not taking these conversations as feedback.

The next day, he came to me and explained how this was the first time in his 20 year career that somebody gave him honest feedback. He was used to hearing that everything is great and he was doing fine. He said he thought about all night and thought about his actions and how they fell short of my expectation. He then thanked me and turned it around and exceeded my expectations.

Quality feedback is a necessity in our Air Force. Without it, we are shorting our Airmen of the leadership and mentoring they deserve. How can we have the best of the best if we cannot be honest and ensure they understand their job and the expectations set before them. So I ask this of everyone, give meaningful feedback our Airmen deserve it.