I’m my own worst critic. I beat myself up more than anyone else ever could. On self-assessments, this is easy to see; I’m the one giving myself C’s when my bosses are giving me A’s. Is it a lack of self-confidence? Or do I not understand the questions?
Recently, it became a requirement in the Army for officers to complete a Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback module before an evaluation. (You need to be in the Army with an AKO e-mail and CAC capabilities to complete the module.) Within the MSAF, you do a self-assessment of your performance based on different categories, then ask a required number of Superiors, Peers, and Subordinates to complete the same assessment of you. The categories are:
- Prepare Self to Lead
- Overall Leadership
- Lead Others
- Lead by Example
- Get Results
- Extend Influence Beyond Chain of Command
- Develops Leaders
- Create a Positive Environment
After everyone has completed the assessment, your results are compiled, and you are able to see how your self-assessment compares to the assessment of others. This is an incredibly valuable tool for leaders, whether you plan to stay in the Army or not. This information will help you with your career for life.
The recruiting firm I’m working with has us assess our strengths and weaknesses at the very beginning, and encourages us to talk to our coworkers (above, below, and peers) to compare notes. It’s a lot harder for someone to critique you to your face, so I really liked seeing the MSAF results. The anonymity allows people to be more honest, and you get better information that you can use to move forward.
In almost every category, I rated myself lower than others did. I expected that, based on my personality. But what surprised me most were my highest and lowest rated behaviors. I expected to rank highly in Communicate, and I was also happy to rank highly in Create a Positive Environment. But to have multiple high rankings in Extend Influence Beyond Chain of Command pleasantly surprised me. I’ve never considered myself to be influential, though I am comfortable working with my superiors and trying to bring them on board to my ideas. Guess that’s one where I didn’t give myself enough credit.
As for my weaknesses, it was all about Developing Leaders. And I get that. In my assignments, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to develop soldiers beneath me. I did have a few that I counseled and mentored with success, but I was never a platoon leader who could really make that impact on a number of people. I’m good at being part of a team/staff, but the ability to develop leaders for an organization is going to be something I work to improve upon. I’m glad I learned this weakness.
I also appreciated the individual comments. I learned that I may need to improve critical thinking skills and quick, effective decision-making. (Improve tactical knowledge? I’ll let that one slide.) It made me blush to see the words intelligent, professional, great interpersonal skills, dedication, and compassion pop up multiple times. It shows me that despite my (many) weaknesses, I have positive qualities that will help me overcome them.
The MSAF isn’t perfect, but it’s something you should take advantage of, if you can. You need to know where you stand, and how you can improve your leadership and professional abilities. I saved my complete results on my computer for future reference, so I can make sure I continue to improve.
P.S. On a lighter note, one of the suggestions I received as a “greatest developmental need” made me smile… it said, “Motivation to stay in the Army!” I’ll take it.