JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — In a recent message to Airmen, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III announced plans to begin implementing a more comprehensive Air Force evaluation system for officers and enlisted members.
The first step in the process will be the July 1 implementation of the Airman Comprehensive Assessment Worksheet performance feedback tool, Air Force officials said in a June 6 release.
The ACA Worksheet, tested in 2012 by 45,000 Airmen, introduces a tool and a process designed to improve communication between supervisors and subordinates while reminding Airmen of the importance of Air Force core values and the role they play in accomplishing the mission, said Evaluation and Recognition Programs Branch Chief Will Brown, Air Force Personnel Center.
Of significance, the ACA form and process require Airmen to assess themselves prior to a face-to-face feedback session with their supervisor.
“This gives Airmen the opportunity to reflect on their own knowledge and awareness of our responsibility, accountability and our core values, and enables them to identify areas where they need more information and education,” Brown explained. “An Airman will complete the self-assessment portion of the worksheet and provide it to the supervisor two or three days before the feedback session, which gives the supervisor time to tailor the session to that Airman’s specific needs.”
To be effective, however, all Airmen must follow the process and use the form as it is intended to be used.
“During the test phase, Airmen who used the form and process as intended saw notable improvement in communication, morale and productivity,” Brown said. “Clearly, this is an opportunity for supervisors and their Airmen to grow together, but it will only work if we use it.”
The new form and process illustrate the emphasis the Air Force places on communicating for success. According to Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody, a proper feedback is the most important element of a strong evaluation system.
“It is the only way we can cultivate a culture that drives performance. Airmen must know what we expect of them. We owe them direction and guidance so they can reach their fullest potential and capitalize on opportunities. If we fail at feedback, we fail our Airmen,” Cody said.
Learning to use the form won’t be hard, according to Brown. Form numbers are the same (AF Form 931 for airmen basic through technical sergeants, AF Form 932 for master through chief master sergeants and AF Form 724 for lieutenants through colonels), and the implementation guidance memo includes clear details and tables.
“This is about more than using a form, though,” said Brown. “This is about developing strong relationships with our Airmen. This is about talking to them, caring about what they need and want, showing them how to succeed and teaching them to make good choices.”
The essence of successful evaluation is captured in worksheets that focus on standards like responsibility, accountability, understanding the Air Force culture and understanding and meeting performance expectations.
In addition, the form requires the rater to clarify the Airman’s role in support of the mission.
“When an Airman can see how he or she directly impacts the mission, that’s motivational. Too often, young Airmen don’t know how their work impacts the end goal,” Brown said. “It’s tough to be motivated and excited when you don’t know if your job matters, so this section will help us educate and motivate our Airmen.”
The new form also includes an individual readiness index identifying whether or not an Airmen is deployable.
“Ours is a mobile force, so this addition helps us remind Airmen that we have global responsibilities,” said Brown.
The performance feedback section is the most familiar part of the form. It requires the rater to tell the Airman specifically how well he or she is doing in job knowledge, leadership skills, resource management, communication and more.
“This section has far more depth than the old feedback forms,” Brown said. “We want to be crystal clear on what the expectations are and how well Airmen are doing. Airmen want to succeed and here’s where we tell them how.”
Also new to the feedback process is the “knowing your Airman” section. Although discussion driven by this section isn’t for evaluation purposes, it enables raters and supervisors to talk about Airmen’s goals and dreams, to vector Airmen toward achieving those goals and dreams, and to help their Airmen find a mentor, and become a mentor.
“We have amazing, talented Airmen in our service, and every day, enthusiastic, smart kids make a commitment to join us. They are offering us their lives. We have an obligation to honor that fact by teaching them how to be great Airmen, and that starts with open, honest, regular communication. That’s what this form and process are for,” said Brown.
To review the guidance memo explaining how to use the ACA worksheet, go to the e-Publishing website at www.e-publishing.af.mil and enter AFI36-2406 in the search window. To review the new ACA worksheets, select the forms tab in e-Publishing and enter AF931, AF932 or AF724A in the search window.
For more information about enlisted evaluations, and other personnel issues, visit the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil. Select “search all components” from the drop down menu and enter “Enlisted: Evaluations Home Page” in the search window.