New Assessment for Commanding Officers

Future commanding officers (CO’s) are being given a helping hand into post with a temperature check on how they are likely to be perceived by their subordinates.

They will receive a so-called “180 degree” assessment in which around a dozen troops provide feedback on a leader’s attributes.

The CO’s will also be interviewed and given a frank report on their skills, allowing them to develop strengths and iron out any weaknesses.

The assessment, which forms part of the wider mental health package for the senior personnel, will be repeated after six months in post.

Dr Joanna Harvey, principal occupation psychologist at Army HQ, said the scheme was trialled during last month’s commanding officers’ course and a second pilot will follow.

She added: “After receiving the results we meet new COs to discuss the findings.” “We will be able to tell whether the responses from the soldiers are a one-off or seem to form part of a wider pattern – and from there suggest a way forward.

“They then have the opportunity to practise different behaviours if this is what is required.”

It is believed the assessment – which is widely used in the American, Canadian and Australian armed forces– could have a wider use across the Army in future.

But decisions on how it would be managed and administered have yet to
be finalised.

“The pilot has had a positive response,” Dr Harvey explained. “The assessment might benefit others such as regimental sergeant majors in the future.”


Soldier. (2020) Leaders in the Spotlight. Soldier: Magazine of the British Army. April 2020, pp.16.


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