By John Harlow/TRADOC News ServiceMay 22, 2008
FORT MONROE, Va. (TRADOC News Service, May 22, 2008) - When 98 percent of participants in a pilot program find a program valuable and worthwhile, it makes sense to put it into action. That is what the Army is doing with the Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback (MSAF) program.
This new program is designed to provide feedback to individual leaders through the eight Army core competencies.
"The core competencies provide a clear and consistent way of conveying expectations for Army leaders across all levels of the Army," said Col. Bruce Reider, director of the Center for Army Leadership at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. "This program has the potential to fundamentally change the culture of the Army."
In the past, the Army has tried other programs to improve leadership capabilities, but they have been voluntary. The MSAF program began operations in May and is expected to be fully capable in October, 2008.
"Up until now, the Army has relied entirely on the formal feedback from our superiors or our raters," said Reider. "Now you have an opportunity not tied to performance evalutions to receive feedback from other individuals to shape your behavior to become a more agile and adaptive leader."
MSAF will be a web-enabled system to efficiently gather data on leadership competencies that are outlined in FM 6-22. The program applies to all domains of training and education (self-development, institutional and operational), all cohorts (officers and warrant officers, noncommissioned officers and Army civilians), and all components, both active duty and reserve component.
The feedback that is provided is confidential and can come from any combination of peers, subordinates and superiors.
"We believe that the types of leaders required to be successful are those leaders who are agile and adaptive," said Reider. "We think... the purpose of MSAF is to enhance the individual's self-awareness."
MSAF, the pilot program, was used during 14 Combat Training Center unit rotations between 2004 and 2006.
"In the pilot program, we had over 2,000 leaders that actually received assessments and over 23,000 individuals that participated in the program to provide those assessments," said Reider. "The results we got were around 98 percent of the individuals who participated in the program felt it was a valuable and worthwhile program."
MSAF isn't a time consuming process. It can be done online and completed in about 10 minutes.
"Once an individual receives an assessment, they will also receive a personalized individual feedback report with the results of their assessment," said Reider. "The feedback reports are electronically maintained and are only accessible by the individual.
"The assessments will all be anonymous. The individual receiving the assessments will not know who is providing the feedback due to the number of people required to provide feedback," said Reider. "This program is only for developmental purposes; it is not to evaluate performance and will not provide any input to our performance evaluation system."
MSAF is not only going to be a tool to provide feedback on leadership competencies, but also to provide coaching for the leaders who are going through the training.
"We will have a pool of virtual coaches available telephonically or electronically through e-mail," said Reider. "We will also use the faculty and cadre at our schools to provide coaching to our students when they come for a professional military education course or civilian education course. There is also a self-coaching capability for individuals who don't want to share their information or need much assistance in interpreting their results."
Through feedback, coaching and self-development, the Army is providing its leaders every possible tool for success. For Soldiers and civilians to find out more about the MSAF program, log on to https://msaf.army.mil.
Information provided by Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg was used in this story.