The Air Force on Tuesday announced a new addition to the Airman Comprehensive Assessment feedback tool that seeks to measure the leadership qualities of most officers and senior noncommissioned officers.
The 10 airman leadership qualities focus on airmen’s character and competence, and will be part of the feedback tools for second lieutenants through colonels, and master sergeants, senior master sergeants and chief master sergeants, the Air Force said in a release.
And the Air Force expects these leadership qualities will lay the foundation for future performance reporting systems for officers and enlisted airmen alike, the service said.
“The adjustments toward these new leadership qualities are imperative to shift the way we measure, incentivize and reward the airmen we need for the future,” Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown said in the release. “We must have evaluation systems that provide constructive feedback, evaluate against qualities we value, and highlight future potential.”
The Air Force rolled out the Airman Comprehensive Assessment in 2014, as part of a broader overhaul of the evaluation process. The assessment’s feedback form requires airmen and their supervisors to have detailed conversations each year to make sure airmen’s goals and expectations are clear to them. That way, when evaluation time rolls around, airmen should already know whether they met those expectations or not, and their performance evaluation should not be a surprise.
But now, as part of that process, airmen’s leadership qualities will also be measured on a five-point scale: Does not meet expectations, developing, proficient, highly proficient, and outstanding.
Airmen will be evaluated on who well they demonstrate their job proficiency, take the initiative, and show they can adapt to changing conditions or emerging obstacles to accomplish their mission, the Air Force said.
They will be measured on how well they foster teamwork and create an inclusive environment, their emotional intelligence, and how clearly and articulately they communicate with others and listen to others.
Airmen will also be evaluated on how responsibly they manage their assigned resources, and take accountability for the actions of themselves and their team.
And the Air Force will measure how well airmen make well-informed, effective and timely decisions, and think creatively and innovatively to solve problems, make improvements and take calculated risks.
These changes have been in the works for the last two years, and are part of larger reforms to the Air Force’s talent management system as the service tries to create a more comprehensive evaluation system.
“To improve how we make talent management decisions, we must measure what we value,” Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said in the release. “These airmen leadership qualities make clear what we value in officer and enlisted performance.”
“Our airmen must understand what they are being graded against to provide them with a clear understanding of expectations and aid them in their future development,” Kelly continued. “The objective is for raters to begin discussing and assessing ratees against the airman leadership qualities to provide us feedback as they introduce the new measures they will see in future evaluation systems.”
The Air Force will gather feedback from major commands across the service, that will be used to refine the leadership qualities and the addendum before the new evaluation system is finalized, the release said.
“We are working to build a system that defines the qualities we value and need in our airmen,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said in the release. “I’m very excited that we are doing that in synergy with our officer corps. It shows that we value airmen leadership qualities across the ranks, from E-1 to O-10.”
This form will be voluntary at first, the Air Force said, but leaders will be encouraged to use it as much as is practical.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.