Army officers’ careers could hinge on feedback from the squaddies

Army officers’ promotion prospects could hinge on the opinions of their subordinates as they introduce 360-degree reviews after taking inspiration from Silicon Valley.

Under new reforms, the Army will use reports from peers and subordinates “to drive cultural change throughout the organisation”.

Defence chiefs are thought to have been impressed with similar schemes run in companies such as Google and KPMG, which have shown positive results.

The move comes after the Army Board, the senior management committee of the service, was summoned by the Defence Secretary on Monday to address concerns about culture and ill-discipline. 

In response, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, pictured below, the head of the Army, announced on Twitter the current voluntary system of 360-degree reporting would be extended to cover “middle-ranking officers”.

It is hoped the move will “improve transparency and identify the very best contemporary leaders to drive cultural change throughout the organisation”.

Credit: Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

The personnel management system known as 360-degree reporting is one where an individual receives feedback from their staff, peers and line management. It aims to provide feedback on how well the individual is performing as a leader. 

A spokesperson for the Army said no formal direction had been given over how the system will work or what ranks will be included in the new scheme.

It is likely the new system will take the form of an email survey, although no overall score or grading is expected.

In the current voluntary system, a minimum of five people are approached to provide comments on an officer’s performance. No more than 12 peer and subordinate views are sought.

It is likely the new policy will require officers to have been in post for at least three months prior to any 360-degree reporting. The officers being reported on will be expected to have regular interaction with anyone invited to provide feedback.

The Royal Navy encourages its personnel to use 360-degree reporting as an informal process.

A spokesperson said it was “an excellent tool for reporting”, but no permanent record was kept of the process. 

Gen Carleton-Smith said: “The Army is a great organisation recognised for its operational excellence.

“But it also needs to be a great organisation to be in. For everyone. That’s the challenge and the change now needed.”

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