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ANG Command Chief leads professional development day

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, the command chief master sergeant of the Air National guard discusses the recently approved Airman Comprehensive Assessment feedback form during a meeting of selected ANG Airman at Joint Base Andrews, Md. December, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin R. Preston/ Released)

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, the command chief master sergeant of the Air National guard discusses the recently approved Airman Comprehensive Assessment feedback form during a meeting of selected ANG Airman at Joint Base Andrews, Md. December, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin R. Preston/ Released)

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, the command chief master sergeant of the Air National guard discusses the recently approved Airman Comprehensive Assessment feedback form during a meeting of selected ANG Airman at Joint Base Andrews, Md. December, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin R. Preston/ Released)

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, the command chief master sergeant of the Air National guard discusses the recently approved Airman Comprehensive Assessment feedback form during a meeting of selected ANG Airman at Joint Base Andrews, Md. December, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin R. Preston/ Released)

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, the command chief master sergeant of the Air National guard discusses the recently approved Airman Comprehensive Assessment feedback form during a meeting of selected ANG Airman at Joint Base Andrews, Md. December, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin R. Preston/ Released)

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, the command chief master sergeant of the Air National guard discusses the recently approved Airman Comprehensive Assessment feedback form during a meeting of selected ANG Airman at Joint Base Andrews, Md. December, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin R. Preston/ Released)

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, the command chief master sergeant of the Air National guard discusses the recently approved Airman Comprehensive Assessment feedback form during a meeting of selected ANG Airman at Joint Base Andrews, Md. December, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin R. Preston/ Released)

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, the command chief master sergeant of the Air National guard discusses the recently approved Airman Comprehensive Assessment feedback form during a meeting of selected ANG Airman at Joint Base Andrews, Md. December, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin R. Preston/ Released)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard recently led a professional development day for enlisted Airmen in the National Capitol Region.

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling gathered members of his office staff, as well as ANG Airmen working in the Pentagon, Arlington Hall, and the Air Force First Sergeant Academy to discuss the new Airman Comprehensive Assessment, as well as leadership, mentorship and how to use them to give Airmen meaningful feedback in the new program.

"This is a fundamental leadership principle," said Hotaling. "If you expect people to follow you, you've got to be out front setting the example and understanding the nuances of whatever you're trying to influence. The reality is that if we do it together as an office, we set the example for the rest of the field to emulate. As busy as we are in my office, we take the time to do what's important - and that's giving feedback."

The ACA is a written performance feedback that went into effect in July 2014. Because traditional Guard members were not required to have Enlisted Performance Reports (EPRs) in the past, both supervisors and ratees are new to the Enlisted Evaluation System (EES) process. Enlisted ANG Airmen will begin receiving performance feedback through the ACA, which alternates with the EPR in a two-year cycle.

"More than 71,000 of our Airmen have never had this type of performance evaluation done on them before," said Hotaling. "Think about that. 71,000 people who have never known in writing if they were doing good, bad, or indifferent. So this is going to be a huge cultural shift for where we're going in the Air Force and the ANG."

One of the key ideas Hotaling emphasized during the day is emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand and manage one's own emotions and how they interact and influence the emotions of the people around us.  He also talked about the benefits seen in the corporate world from companies that place a high value on those skills.

According to studies conducted by BI Worldwide, companies with connected and engaged employees have 60 percent higher quality of work, and between 12 and 34 percent higher customer satisfaction. They also report half as many safety incidents and an 87 percent better retention rate. While these studies are geared to the business world, it's easy to see how being engaged and motivated can improve any Airman's performance on the job.

"Approaching feedback from an analytic or checklist basis doesn't get you anywhere productive," said Hotaling. "An approach from an emotional intelligence basis will allow you to make human connections. Caring about other people is a primal thing."

These emotional intelligence concepts are reflected in the ACA form, which includes a section for self-assessment by Airmen and one built for supervisors to gain insight into mentoring their Airmen. Both of these tools are designed to start conversations and build understanding between Airmen and their supervisors.

"Before you can do professional feedback, you have to understand a couple things about yourself and a couple things about your ratees," Hotaling said. "That's the whole purpose of [the ACA]. It's 360 degree feedback. Our goal in the Air Force is to produce a leader at every single level. We expect an Airman who graduates BMT to be a leader at a certain level. And then that Airman is going to be a leader all throughout his or her career. We're empowering Airmen at all levels - that's pretty important to building leaders."