Commentary

August 23, 2013

Get to know your Airmen

Staff Sgt. Anthony Hyatt
628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C.†-†”It all starts with great NCOs and great supervisors who understand every Airman does have a story,” said the general.

A part of taking care of people is knowing their stories.

“Learn their stories. I am absolutely convinced that if we knew each other better, we would care for each other more,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III during an Air Force Sergeants Association Convention and Professional Airmen’s Conference back in August 2012.

How many supervisors or leaders can truly say they know their troops? What are the names of their children? What’s their spouse’s name? Where do they call home? What hobbies do they like? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Why are they in the Air Force? Are they happy? What’s going on in their life? What motivates them?

I think the questions above are pretty basic. Furthermore, I’m not saying you should be your Airman’s best friend. What I’m trying to say is that the Airmen do the job every day!

We ask and ask day-in and day-out for Airmen to get the mission done. The least we can do is get to know them.

According to 4.1.13 from Air Force Instruction 36-2618, the Enlisted Force Structure, NCOs must take an active leadership and supervisory role by staying involved with subordinates on a daily basis. Use their own experiences and knowledge to mentor others. Assist subordinates in reaching their full potential.
It is stated in our “Little Brown Book,” that we must do this.

I’m not writing this commentary because my past supervisors or present leaders couldn’t tell you a thing about their Airmen. I’m writing this commentary, so our current supervisors and future leaders will KNOW who is really working for them and that the flow of the mission continues on.

In some cases, some may say, “Well, that Airman really keeps to himself” or “He/she doesn’t like to talk to anyone.”

During a visit to the Air Force Academy in November 2011, Welsh shared a story about a young NCO who he had known at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. He got to know the Airman, who was an F-16 crew chief, and they met frequently on Welsh’s trips along the flight line. Six months into Welsh’s command, he was caught by surprise, when the Airman, his supervisor, flight chief, first sergeant and squadron commander show up [in front of Welsh].

The crew chief had gotten divorced right before he left because his wife was on drugs, and he couldn’t get her to stop using them. The NCO’s ex-wife won sole-custody because the NCO didn’t mention the drug use in the custody hearing, but his daughter was at risk of being placed in foster care when her mother was convicted of selling drugs, according to Welsh.

“Let me ask you a really important question: Why didn’t I know about his daughter?” Welsh asked. “I saw the guy all the time, talked to him a couple of times a week. Why didn’t I know he had a daughter? It’s not complicated: I never asked him.”

The challenge of leadership means we must seek out this information and not expect for it to be handed to us. We have to remember our most junior members may be reluctant or uncomfortable sharing the sensitive details of their private lives. Find a way to communicate with him/her. If we do this, we will promote a culture where Airmen can believe in their leadership and leadership can rely on their Airmen – thus accomplishing the mission.

This doesn’t just apply to NCOs – superintendents and unit commanders can also get involved. I understand some squadrons have hundreds of Airmen and to get to know each Airman would be nearly impossible, but it wouldn’t hurt to find out something new about them.

I’m also not saying every supervisor needs to do this, because there are already supervisors in the Air Force that accomplish this successfully.

Take a couple of minutes from your day-to-day task behind your desk or at your shop and talk to your Airmen. Show your Airmen you really care by getting to know them and the time you spend on this fundamental task will be returned to you as leaders increase morale and effectiveness within their units.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
unity

The beauty of unity

Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton What do cheeseburgers, musical groups, sports teams and the United States of America have in common? If you said “the letter ‘s,’ you’re right, but th...
 
 

Keeping Airmen safe in the social media world

Langley AFB, Va. - Airmen today use the social media world to keep in touch with family, friends, prior co-workers and a multitude of others. Unfortunately, for all of the positive uses of social media, recent events have encouraged us to re-evaluate our digital world to ensure our personal and professional information is protected from online predators and minimize...
 
 

Gaining Altitude – Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community - By now you have heard of the plight of American pastor Saeed Abedini who is being held in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith.  He recently wrote a letter to his daughter for her eighth birthday.  In it he...
 

 

Hispanics a future of success

Each year from, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month, to recognize the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Every year’s celebration has a theme and this year’s is “Hispanics: A legacy of history, a present of...
 
 

Pregnant with cancer: A story of survival, resilience

On April 16, 2007, I got a call no expecting mother would dream of receiving. “We got the results from your biopsy and it came back malignant.” Did the doctor just say I had cancer? I first discovered the lump during Christmas break. It was so small that it was barely distinguishable. In March, I...
 
 

Gaining Altitude – Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community - Columbus Day is more than an American holiday. In fact, numerous countries celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas because it honors the need for unity.  It is amazing that in the late 1400s, a crew brought...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>