When was your last real feedback?

TRAVIS AIR FORCE, BASE, Calif. -- Feedback comes in many forms and can be given by peers, superiors and subordinates. The most common form of feedback in the military involves the formal performance feedback worksheet which has just been revised for both officers and enlisted members. 

This feedback mechanism has specific directions to allow it to be used to its full potential of assessing a person's work habits and growth potential. 

Why do I say growth potential? 

If used correctly, feedback can make you better and help you grow personally and professionally. In the aviation world, aircrew members receive checkrides on a frequent basis and this is one formal version of feedback. It can be very stressful if you are unprepared, but there can be a certain amount of pride if you do well on the evaluation. 

You prove to a peer how well you accomplish the mission and whether you're truly prepared for emergency situations. This is all accomplished through the observation of your performance and verbal questioning. 

The debriefing after your check ride completion focuses on what you did well and defines areas where you need to improve. Your ego can be hurt if you take it personally, but the goal is to make you the best aviator possible and the method can be very effective. 

With the new performance reports coming online, it's past time to improve our feedback process. Very soon a fitness failure will result in a referral report and this is something we should try to avoid through education. Some people don't give effective targeted feedback and instead prefer to give generic advice such as accomplish your education or volunteer for community service. 

We can also give advice on fitness. One example would be to refer the individual to the Health and Wellness Center to help improve performance. 

As leaders, it's our job to be very specific so we can help the person set and achieve both short and long term goals. If you don't give concrete goals, the message may be lost and no improvement will be gained. I'm not naïve enough to believe it works with everyone, but I do think most people want to succeed; they're just not sure how to best accomplish the goal. 

Along with formal feedback, it's also important we give constructive informal feedback as often as possible. This helps to set the standard you want to maintain in your work centers and can be used to reinforce the areas you think are important. Some examples most people are familiar with include that comment from your spouse that you forgot your anniversary or an important event. 

Anyone that has heard those words strives to not disappoint, and the same effect can happen in your work area if you give specific feedback. We'll make that extra effort to raise the standard of how we conduct that part of our life if we know where to improve. 

It doesn't matter if the goal is to be a chief, colonel or a success outside the Air Force, the process all starts with goals. We can choose to help set those goals, and maybe spark some interest or we can ignore our people and not help anyone. 

Just remember that it all can start with feedback to spark interest or guide careers.