BLUF – Commanders evaluate performance and perform stratification procedures using three simple questions: What is your job and What are you doing now? How well do you communicate? How well do you work with others?
Commanders in the Air Force have the task to rate and grade the performance of personnel assigned to their respective units. In addition to looking within the squadron, commanders also measure performance of personnel within the larger group and wing (higher echelons of the organization) perspective, thus providing insight and guidance towards the potential for increased responsibility or rank. While most of these performance measurements are articulated within the sections of an Enlisted or Officer Performance Report, there are three simple measurements leadership uses to evaluate you. Here are three questions your Commander uses to measure your performance:
What is your job now and what are you doing now? – While there is a consideration made for your previous record and any stratifications or awards earned, what’s more important is what you are doing NOW in your assigned job and associated responsibilities. Your past experience can influence future job positions: you can be qualified for a flight commander position because you’ve served as a deputy, or you would be a good fit as a strategic planner because you have first-hand tactical knowledge from an operational unit. However, just because you are responsible for a large amount of things doesn’t automatically equate you to being more important at the start. You definitely have the potential to impress leadership more, but you have an equal chance to screw it up. Also, never take for granted that because you were a #1 of X officers that you leadership will automatically keep you on that track. You need to put forth a level of effort that shows your previous record wasn’t a one-time achievement. Your performance in your current job needs to speak for itself if you want to earn a similar stratification. Control what you can control today and make the most of it. Takeaway – Your previous record doesn’t entitle you to anything, and don’t half-ass your current job.
How well do you communicate? – With the Cyberspace Operations field, our community commonly falls victim to this. Our job as Operators is to understand and communicate “geekery” within the unit, yet translate and get to the point outside the unit. I’m very particular about briefings, e-mails, or any other form of external communication we generate that deals with our contribution to the mission because we do a poor job of providing simple explanations of our action and we can quickly lose the attention of senior leadership. If we don’t lead the audience in getting them to understand our contribution to the mission or what decision we need out of them, we are failing them as functional leads. The diverse, yet interconnected, missions of the Air Force make communication critical and is applicable to all functional communities. Does the Maintenance community understand how Force Support works? Does the Legal community understand what a Fighter Squadron needs? Your job is to take care of your position on the team by both translating what you need and bring to the fight. Takeaway – Your squadron expects and requires you to have technical proficiency, but the rest of the wing needs you to get to the point and lead.
How well do you work with others? – Leadership expects you to find the balance of preserving your functional equities and getting the overall job done. This doesn’t mean to deflect work on to others for the sake of your Airmen (who actually don’t mind working hard/long if you lead them correctly) by default. Our job as leaders is to use our words and finish our sentences to work together with mission partners. Sometimes that’s more work on our plate, sometimes we need to hold the line and keep them accountable to their responsibilities. Your job is to figure it out case by case. Furthermore, you need to build out your network, at least one degree up and down. If you are the Operations Flight Commander of your squadron, you should know every other Operations Flight Commander in the wing and they should know you. This idea of “Company Grade Officer Mafia” is not an urban myth; it is a way to cut through red tape and get the job done. Other squadron commanders and key senior enlisted members should know who you are too, even simply as “the guy/gal who works well with members of my squadron”. Takeaway – #DBAA (Don’t Be An Asshole)
Three straight forward questions you can ask yourself to get an insight as to how your commander, and arguably everyone else around you, measures your individual performance as part of a team. How do you stack up?