Taking care of Airmen- The importance of feedback

Lt. Col. Sherman Johns, 4th Space Operations Squadron commander

Lt. Col. Sherman Johns, 4th Space Operations Squadron commander


If you have been to one of my Commander’s calls, promotion ceremonies or other events, you probably have heard me say, “Take care of your Airmen and everything else will take care of itself.” 

 I am a true believer in this statement, and I put it into practice at every opportunity.  This is in-line with the Air Force Space Command’s number three priority – taking care of our Airmen and our families.

Taking care of Airmen manifests itself in a variety of ways, one of which is providing Airmen with substantial periodic feedback.  In my assessment, we do a decent job overall, however due to the importance of the subject, a little refresher is always a good thing.

Air Force Instruction 36-2406, Officer and Enlisted Evaluation System, is the governing AFI for the performance feedback process.  All Airmen know feedback is mandatory at various points during the period of supervision. The Airman comprehensive assessment should be used to document all formal feedback sessions.  It is noteworthy that both the ratee and the rater are responsible to ensure that all required feedback is accomplished and documented accordingly.   

The reason feedback is so important is because it sets expectations and allows for course correction throughout the supervisory period.  It is akin to setting out on an important journey with a map in-hand to guide you at the next fork in the road.  If you take the wrong path, there is opportunity to course correct based on a new map provided by the rater. Simply put, the final performance report should never be a surprise.  When feedback is done properly, it will help the ratee improve communication, their job performance and enable professional growth.

Lastly, feedback is a two-way conversation.  You owe it to your supervisor to provide feedback on how you think your supervisor and more importantly, how the organization is doing.  A supervisor must be open to feedback from their subordinates in order to drive improvement and innovation in an organization.  Don’t be afraid to let your supervisor know, in a professional manner, what can be done to make the unit better as a whole.

Team 5-0, remember that if you take care of your Airmen, including civilians and contractors, the rest will take care of itself.