CAF improves promotion selection process, beginning with General and Flag Officers

November 26, 2021 - Defence Stories

Author: Lieutenant Yanick Hamel

In October 2021, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) took its first steps to introduce new rigour and science to its promotion selection process. This sets the stage for an ongoing evolution of the CAF’s appointment to command and promotion process to be more inclusive and to ensure those selected embody CAF ethics and values.

“We are making improvements to the selection process for promotions and appointments, and refining our performance-evaluation process, so that they can be more effective and inclusive. Character traits such as integrity, humility, and empathy will be encouraged and valued, playing an equal part along with performance for our leaders. This will strengthen our ability, through the selection process, to identify the best leaders for the right positions while ensuring that those selected truly embody CAF ethos and values,” said General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff.

Over the next years, the CAF will introduce an evidence-based framework for character-based leader assessments to provide a broader lens in support of selection and promotion processes.

As a first step, candidates on the General Officer and Flag Officer (GOFO) selection boards completed three online psychometric assessments. The first assessment was a non-verbal measure of general cognitive ability/reasoning (a core component of character), geared to the senior leader level. The second assessment was a personality inventory that measured various aspects of personality commonly associated with success in organizations. Finally, candidates completed an assessment of leadership skills that is commonly used in executive selection processes. The results of these assessments contributed the member’s overall score.

Candidates who are recommended to the Minister of National Defence for promotion to or within the GOFO Cadre will also be subject to a post-selection confirmation step using what is known as a “360 degree” assessment tool. This is a process that collects feedback from multiple evaluators regarding an individual’s leadership effectiveness. In order to obtain a holistic perspective of the candidate’s leadership behaviours and effectiveness, raters are chosen for the candidate from a diverse group as possible.

“General and Flag Officers share the responsibility for the stewardship of our institution, and for the profession of arms as a whole,” said Lieutenant-General Frances Allen, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and chairperson of this year’s GOFO selection board. “Our evolving assessment framework is a step forward in enhancing the CAF’s overall efforts toward positive culture change.”

Across all selection boards this year, additional efforts were made to reduce bias and foster diverse perspectives. Key amongst the initiatives were a Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) review of scoring criteria and the inclusion of at least one voting member from a designated group such as a woman, visible minority or Indigenous member of the Defence Team.

“Increasing diversity and representation in leadership positions is critical to the success of our mandate and to the well-being of our people. Culture change starts with leaders and creating a diverse selection board for GOFOs is a commendable first step towards ensuring all candidates are given equal and fair opportunities. The incorporation of a senior DND civilian voting member was important to expand the perspective brought to GOFO candidate files,” said Mme Isabelle Desmartis, Assistant Deputy Minister Human Resources (Civilian), and board member for the 2021 GOFO selection boards.

Research and consultation are underway to develop an evidence-based framework for character-based assessments that can be expanded to other leadership ranks in the coming years.  The intent is to expand the framework to Major/Lieutenant-Commander and Sergeant/Petty Officer 2nd Class and above levels.

The introduction of these changes to the promotion and selection process will accompany the forthcoming implementation of the CAF’s new electronic-based appraisal system – Performance and Competency Evaluation (PaCE) – with an overall end state of selecting inclusive leaders who embody the CAF’s professional values and ethos.

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