In my 19 years in the Air Force, I am one of many who have never really received a “formal” feedback. Usually, all I got was “its feedback time… sign, date and return to me.” Like magic, I had that phantom feedback date on EPR. This phenomenon is what can be referred to as the Feedback Famine; a communication drought that occurs when people do not receive enough information about their performance. Looking back, how was I supposed to know whether or not I was performing to their standard? Better yet, how was I to know if I was even performing to my own?
To avoid the famine, we need to understand what feedback is and how to master it. Now that I am a little wiser than I was when I just signed my phantom AF Form 931s, I understand that feedback is the information we all need to be truly effective. In fact, the most effective leaders actively seek feedback to enhance their performance. These leaders intuitively recognize the power of feedback.
While we could focus on textbook answers, it all boils down to this simple truth: we conduct formal feedback to relay expectations, develop goals, understand our people, and keep them on track. We could do better relaying the “why” of formal feedback to our people at large. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact the vast majority of our people WANT to do well; they simply lack proper guidance and direction. We MUST provide that direction and set the example.