Challenges ahead, yet remembering to do the right thing

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Brian Stiles
  • 509th Force Support Squadron
Remembering Sept. 18, the Air Force birthday, and seeing how our Air Force continues to transform itself as it leads the world in air superiority, we turn 62 years old today and have the distinction of being the youngest military service in the U.S. arsenal. Technology and the ops-tempo, supporting two simultaneous conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, continues to challenge our leaner AF team. We always hear, "do more with less," and we do that very well while supporting the Global War on Terrorism. 

I had an opportunity to participate in the NCO Professional Enhancement Course with some future enlisted AF leaders learning key tools to manage tomorrow's Airmen. I was surprised to hear the answer to this question presented to them, "have you received a performance feedback?" Approximately one-half did not raise their hand, which caught me off-guard. What caused first-line supervisors to not receive a feedback until they were a staff sgt.? Poor supervision? High ops-tempo? Not knowing the enlisted evaluation system? Whatever the reason, it's unacceptable. By failing to provide feedback, we missed out on giving candid meaningful feedback so Airmen know what the AF and their supervisor expected from them. It's lets them know how they are doing once they had a chance to meet those expectations and standards of performance. 

Fortunately, the AF released the Enlisted Evaluation System Training Guide on June 29. Hopefully, everyone had an opportunity to see and utilize this valuable tool which educates everyone on the importance of feedback, enlisted performance reports and the impact of inflated and late EPRs. With our leaner AF, the importance of feedback is that much more important supporting our Commander in Chief with our peacetime and contingency roles. Remember, feedback is mandatory for all enlisted Airmen; here is a quick summary on when feedback sessions are due: 

- Initial sessions: held within 60 days of date assigned as a rater 

- AB-SMSgt: midterm session is held midway between the date supervision began and projected EPR close-out date and should focus on how well the ratee is meeting expectations and clarify any suggested improvement areas. 

- If a rater change is expected or projected EPR close-out date limits the amount of supervision to less than 150 days, a feedback session should take place at least 45 days prior to the EPR close-out date. 

- For Airmen who do not receive EPRs: follow-up session is due 180 days after the initial session. 

- For Airmen who do receive EPRs: feedback session is completed in conjunction with finalization of an EPR (End of Reporting Period Feedback). The rater should discuss performance recorded on the EPR plus provide direction and guidance for the new rating period. 

- Sessions are held if the rater determines a need, or within 30 days of receiving a request from the ratee, provided at least 60 days has elapsed since the last feedback session. 

Bottom-line, today we celebrate the U.S. Air Force's 62nd birthday as we continue to watch our AF transform, and the mission and threats change around the world, we must stay focused on the little things that impact the growing of today's, tomorrow's and future leaders by ensuring feedback is performed and doing the little things to make things better for each other. To quote Uncle Ben Parker, Spiderman's uncle, "With great power comes great responsibility" Let's continue to lead the way in the world's greatest AF and take care of our #1 resource... each other!