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News > AF improves unit climate assessment process
AF improves unit climate assessment process

Posted 1/25/2007   Updated 1/25/2007 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Mona Ferrell
23rd Wing Public Affairs

1/25/2007 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A revitalized unit climate assessment program is being implemented Air Force-wide in an effort to better assist commanders in determining the human relations climate within their organization.

While the basic questions provided to the survey taker have not changed much, the new program provides the commander with a more specific breakdown to see trends within their organization, said Tech. Sgt. Joe Newton, 23rd Wing military equal opportunity specialist.

"The intent of the unit climate assessment program remains the same, but the new program gives us a few more options that we can provide to the commander so they can better assess how their organization is doing," Sergeant Newton said. "It's a tool for commanders to identify those human relations factors, both positive and negative, that may affect mission readiness.

"Basically the UCA removes the gatekeeper," he continued. "It allows people the freedom to more openly express how they feel their unit is doing and provides those inputs directly to their commander anonymously."

One option the new UCA program provides to the commander is being able to see trends within specific demographics, said Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Lovett, 23rd Wing MEO chief.

"Survey takers are required to provide demographic information such as rank, grade, race and sex in order to determine if the final survey results are reflective of the demographic mix of the unit - this is nothing new," said the chief. "However, now if the commander wants to know how many E-1 through E-4 Asian females feel a certain way about the squadron's health, the new program allows this to be broken down more easily.

"It also allows us to compare like units, from within the major command, and even across the Air Force, a lot easier than we were able to in the past," he continued.
But, allowing the commander to further assess trends within the organization does not mean degradation in anonymity, said Chief Lovett. In fact, the changes in the program actually increase the ambiguity of the person supplying the survey inputs.

"In the past, we would have to provide a different password for each individual within the organization, and folks thought we could keep track of how they answered by their password," said the chief. "Now one password is utilized for each particular squadron. This adds to the anonymity since the entire squadron being assessed receives the same password."

To further protect anonymity, when there are less than six respondents within a demographic area, individuals are only included as part of the total responses received, said Sergeant Newton. And, individual responses are not visible to the commander in the report provided by the wing MEO office.

Unit climate assessments are required to be offered to unit members within six months after a commander assumes command, upon request from the commander and at least every two years at a minimum, said Sergeant Newton. It's the responsibility of both the unit members and the commander to not only fulfill this requirement, but do their part in changing unit perceptions and morale.

"I used to be in an operational squadron and I didn't understand what a UCA was or what it was used for - basically, I thought the survey was a waste of time," he said. "Being on the other side now with implementing the UCA, I see how I wasted lots of opportunity to help improve the squadron's health.

"Believe it or not, if used correctly the results of a UCA can have a positive affect on unit morale," said Sergeant Newton. "The ability to provide detailed comments gives people the perfect opportunity to voice their opinion and shed some light on the climate of the unit."

Ultimately it's up to the commander to use the UCA tool to the fullest extent possible, said Chief Lovett.

"The changes in the UCA program, while nearly transparent to the survey taker makes both our job and the commander's job easier," said the chief. "But, while we provide the commander with the results of the assessment, it's up to them to take the ball and run with what we give them."

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