Fight for meaningful feedback

  • Published
  • By Maj. Michael Haire
  • 62nd Comptroller Squadron commander
Like any institution, there are things we do well in the Air Force. And there are others that, at times, leave something to be desired. Ask any of your peers about the formal feedback they've received throughout their career and you're sure to hear horror stories.

I remember as a young lieutenant going to my supervisor seeking feedback. I'd been in the organization for about five months and I'd already received my initial feedback. But, as a new flight commander, I was looking for some feedback on my performance. I simply wanted to know how I was doing.

I nervously knocked on my squadron commander's door and he eagerly invited me in. I asked for a few minutes of his time and told him I was looking for some feedback on my job performance.

He looked at me sheepishly and said, "You're doing great, but you should smile a little more."

He asked if I had any more questions, then dismissed me.

Really, that's it? Smile a little more? Obviously, I left his office disappointed. And, sure enough, when I got my next officer performance report, I was disappointed as well. I didn't think it accurately reflected my performance. Or, maybe it accurately reflected my performance, but my performance didn't meet his expectations. How would I know if I was meeting expectations? I didn't know, because I'd never received meaningful feedback.

In hindsight, I share the blame. In hindsight, I should've fought for it. I should've asked more questions and dug in, until I got the meaningful feedback I needed. It was his job to give me feedback, but the fact that I didn't make more of an effort to get meaningful feedback makes it my fault as well.

True enough- supervisors should always make time to give meaningful feedback to their Airmen. But, as a subordinate, if you're not getting the feedback you feel you need to meet your boss's expectations to become a better Airman, don't wait for your supervisor to react.

Be proactive. Go get the feedback you need. Fight for it. Fight for feedback. Fight for meaningful feedback. Your supervisors owe it to you, and you owe it to yourself.