Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody addressed upcoming changes to enlisted performance reports and effects of force management during his 2nd worldwide CHIEFchat at Defense Media Activity, Fort George G. Meade, Md., Jan. 9.
CHIEFchat is a recurring initiative, designed to give Airmen around the world a direct connection to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force. The chief received questions via video message, social media outlets and from members of a studio audience.
An Airman, via a video message, asked how the upcoming changes to the enlisted performance reports will affect Airmen in the future.
As you look at it today, with the current enlisted evaluation system we wouldn’t have to get too deep into a discussion before we understand how inflated the system is, Cody said.
“That’s why General Welsh directed the senior enlisted leadership of our Air Force to look at this and make recommendations to transform the enlisted evaluation into something that, first and foremost, values performance.”
According to the chief, rating Airmen as threes, fours and fives will be a thing of the past.
“We’re not even looking at those numbers fields in the future.” Cody said. “…We’re looking at do you fit into this word picture; does this word picture describe you as an Airman and your performance?”
Airmen will start to see the evolution of the enlisted evaluation system once the new feedback form, or Airman Comprehensive Assessment, is released, Cody said. The new assessment will force supervisors to get to know their subordinates by asking deeper questions about finances, relationships and other things that can impact an Airman’s career.
“Most people are used to being told they are the best, even though they know they really aren’t the best,” Cody said. “…We’re going to have to do a good job of working through that emotional response and reaction to it and realizing this is for the good of all.”
The change in EPRs wasn’t the only topic on Airmen’s minds. Under the current force management actions, some Airmen lost the opportunity to retrain in a new career field. An Airman asked the chief, via social media, when these cross-training opportunities will open up again.
“We suspended (cross training), but not totally … there are still Airmen retraining but they are retraining into career fields that aren’t taking those reductions,” Cody said. “We will look at it again this summer … when we start to put together (the list) for fiscal year 2015 retraining opportunities.”
With a lot of things changing in the Air Force, an Airman in the audience asked Cody his advice on how current and future supervisors should handle these changes.
“We have to know our people,” Cody said. “If you really want to be a good supervisor you have to know about the people you are supervising. You have to know what’s important to them, what their goals and aspirations are. You have to know what’s going on in their life to the degree that you can support them, understand them and appreciate them. …The more you know about your people, the more they will know you care about them and the more they will care about what they are doing.”
Furthermore, Cody said, because of the current force management actions, it is critical that supervisors spend time with their Airmen to ensure they are not alone in this process.
Closing this session of CHIEFchat, Cody answered a question on what Airmen should say to people who have questions about joining the Air Force.
Changes in Air Force benefits and entitlements are expected due to the Department of Defense budget constraints, the chief said.
However, “It’s still going to be an exceptional environment to be part of,” he added. “All those benefits, all those entitlements, they may slow but they’re still going to be really good, and you would be hard pressed to find anything comparable outside our Air Force.
“This is the world’s greatest Air Force because of the men and women that serve and while we go through this significant force reduction …it’s still going to be the world’s greatest Air Force,” Cody said. “There is still going to be a lot of men and women out there that want to come in and serve their nation.”