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SMA eyes 360-degree NCO assessments

Jan. 18, 2014 - 09:38AM   |  
Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler said it will be at least a year before the assessments go live.
Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler said it will be at least a year before the assessments go live. (Spc. Joshua Edwards/Army)
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Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler said it will be at least a year before the assessments go live. (Sgt. Ken Scar/Army)


SAN ANTONIO — The Army is working on a 360-degree assessment tailored for noncommissioned officers, the service’s top enlisted soldier told Army Times.

The assessments — where leaders receive feedback from their subordinates, peers and leaders — are part of the Army’s continuing push to rid the ranks of toxic leaders and help commanders further develop their skills and abilities.

“I believe, as do many of the other NCOs, that if you’re able to show an individual what others perceive them as — their leadership style, presence, intellect — that they can earlier on make changes that are positive both to themselves and their soldiers,” Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler said in a Jan. 3 interview.

Chandler said he will take a page from a program for battalion and brigade commanders that is being launched this year.

The officer assessments, an initiative called Commander 360 and led by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, is scheduled to be implemented across the active Army in October. Assessments for commanders in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve are expected to follow in October 2015.

“It’s really for self-development, self-improvement,” Odierno recently told Army Times. “It never stops, even as you get more senior.”

The assessment for NCOs will be similar to the Army’s existing 360 Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback, Chandler said, adding that Training and Doctrine Command has spent the past year incorporating MSAF into the NCO education system.

“The big challenge is [the MSAF] is pretty long, and we’re looking at what General Odierno and the G-1 team are working on,” Chandler said.

Once the Commander 360 initiative gets underway and the Army finalizes the methodology for the program, Chandler said he wants to implement an NCO version starting with the sergeant major population.

“But we want to drive that down so we can start what I consider self-assessment, reflection, earlier in their careers,” he said.

In the long term, Chandler said he would like to expand the assessments to NCOs of all ranks, down to those who are preparing to attend the Warrior Leader Course.

The WLC is the first leadership course NCOs attend, and it is designed primarily for specialists and corporals.

Soldiers who receive an NCO assessment before the WLC can then use the leadership development taught during the course to make the appropriate changes, Chandler said.

“They’ll be able to understand not only how others see them, but they’ll be able to use the training they get to make changes,” he said.

As the Commander 360 gets underway this year, Chandler said it’ll be “at least another year” before the NCO assessments are introduced.

“I think it’s an important part of the NCO education system,” Chandler said. “We expect, as a professional, you have that commitment to grow into something even more than you are today. And in order to do that, you have to not only see yourself but how others see you.”

The assessments are not intended to be punitive and, when rolled out, are unlikely to be incorporated into evaluations nor affect promotions.

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