Be Outstanding -- What to Expect in a Unit Effectiveness Inspection

  • Published
  • By Col. Charles Owen
  • Air Force District of Washington Inspector General
Headquarters Air Force District of Washington and the 844th Communications Group will be the subjects of an official Unit Effectiveness Inspection (UEI) visit commencing on June 3, 2013 and ending on June 8, 2013. The UEI is the brand new inspection concept that was piloted in U.S. Air Forces in Europe and extended to Field Operating Agencies (FOA) and Direct Reporting Units (DRU) in 2012. AFDW will the first DRU to undergo one of these inspections and I venture to say, it will be different than any other inspection you've ever experienced. I've been asked a number of times what we can do to prepare for such an inspection, how can we garner an "Outstanding?" The answer is quite simple really, be "Outstanding."

The premise behind this new inspection concept is that we, as Airmen, must always focus on our mission readiness and execution. But that's not all, there are four Major Graded Areas (MGAs); managing resources, improving the unit, leading people and executing the mission. These four MGAs are really, in essence, measures of a well-run organization and should always be our concern, not just for an inspection. Excellence in these areas, everyday, makes us an outstanding unit; the inspection will take care of itself.

So, what can you do? First, be an expert in your job. Each of us has an important role in this organization. If you don't know how your work contributes to the accomplishment of the AFDW mission, find out. Ask. You are here for a reason, what is it? Know what guidance is out there that relates to your job. Self-assessment checklists are a good place to start, but read the Air Force Instructions too. How do you know whether you are doing a good job? Be familiar with what feedback sources are out there and use them to help you improve.

Second, be informed. Expand your focus beyond your specific job and make yourself aware of what is going on in the larger organization. Granted, supervision has a responsibility to keep you informed, but you have a responsibility to be informed. Find out what the commander's policies are and be familiar with the organization's guidance. Know what our AFDW mission and vision are and who comprises the AFDW leadership team. Know who to turn to for help if someone needs it, such as the Inspector General, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, or the First Sergeant. Ask questions. AFDW is your organization, be familiar with it.

Third, take pride in AFDW. Now that you are an expert in your job and well-informed, make AFDW better. We have so many things to be proud of, but there is always room for improvement. Don't walk past a problem. Be a good steward of the resources entrusted to you. Be familiar with the improvement approaches from AFSO21 and try them. There's a great quote, "If not you, who? If not now, when?" Look for ways to make AFDW better and then DO them. Pride extends from keeping your workplace tidy and observing customs and courtesies to not settling for "good enough" when "outstanding" is attainable.
Finally, be outstanding leaders and outstanding followers. One of my old squadron commanders once gave me the advice to be the leader I always wanted to have. All of us are, or will be leaders in one capacity or another. Don't take that role lightly. You have responsibilities as a leader, both to your leader/supervisor and to your subordinates. Look for ways to develop your subordinates, know what is available in the command for them and be engaged. Likewise, be outstanding followers. All of us have a boss. Know what your boss needs from you to succeed and then deliver it. Support your boss. Good support requires feedback, give it and ask for it.

If you accomplish the above, AFDW will do great during the UEI. The inspectors are interested in what you think. You may receive a survey prior to the formal UEI visit to complete. You may be identified to participate in individual and group interviews during the UEI visit. Be honest and upfront with your responses. The UEI team will then validate and verify how well we assess ourselves. They will look at our self-assessment results in the Management Internal Control Toolset (MICT) and verify their accuracy. They'll look to see if we have a plan to fix the things we need to fix. They'll look to see if what we say in our surveys and interviews matches up with what they observe us doing every day. They'll look at us through the lens of the four major graded areas and give us an assessment of how well we're doing as a unit. I venture to say a unit of outstanding Airmen, is an outstanding unit. Let's be outstanding Airmen and let the UEI confirm it.