Who likes to be the bad guy? Do you? How many of you like to tell someone that they need a haircut or to stop chewing tobacco outside a tobacco-use area? No one likes to be the bad guy; no one likes to correct someone doing something wrong.
Is it because of the confrontation or is it the fear of not being liked? Over the years of my service, I’ve noticed that more supervisors choose to overlook items that are clearly against regulation. I think for some it’s because they’d prefer to be well liked by everyone.
Let’s look at two examples how supervisors can be a good or bad guy:
One example is writing an enlisted performance report. Supervisors that don’t provide feedback and can’t take the time to sit down with their Airmen to discuss performance areas needing improvement will likely write that “firewall 5.” So they get to be a good guy. That good guy would also be the one that would write a 4 without any feedback or explanation.
A bad guy would provide constructive feedback and hold their Airmen accountable when they don’t improve or correct their performance. Bad guys feel they owe it to their Airmen to tell them how they’re performing. How else will they ever learn how to improve? If you correct poor performance most Airmen will listen and improve. Most Airmen want to do a good job but they can’t read minds.
The next example is on-the-job training. I believe we’re the best-trained Air Force in the world. We take training very seriously. We take the time to make sure our Airmen know what they’re doing by running them through technical schools prior to sending them to the field. Then, supervisors are expected to take them to the next level. What happens if the good guy doesn’t correct their behavior on the job? They might hurt themselves, others or damage expensive equipment.
A bad guy would stay as long as it takes make sure their Airmen are the best at what they’re assigned to do. Even if it makes them work longer hours or figuring out new ways to help the Airmen succeed. A bad guy will exhaust all their efforts trying to do that.
Being the bad guy for the right reasons can be gratifying whether it’s rules that we all have to follow, keeping Airmen from being hurt, or helping them get back on track with their career.
My bad guy code is to be firm, fair and polite. Whatever your policy is, stick to it. Treat everyone equally and fairly, and be polite; there’s no room for jerks in the Air Force .
We’re counting on you to be our bad guy when you need to be. Being a bad guy is not so bad!