NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Growing up as a child, I got in trouble for getting a “C” grade for my school work and it reflected on my report card.
My mother, actively involved in my childhood development, instilled an ethos: “There is an enemy called average; you are not average and an average score isn’t acceptable.”
Some of my friends had “detached parents.” Some detached parents may work a lot, avoid parent-child development and generally may not be involved in their child’s upbringing. Some tend to send their child to their room to watch television or play video games.
Some children of detached parents got in trouble at school and A and B grades rarely reflected on their report cards.
In retrospect, most of these childhood friends are in jail, just got out of jail or doing nothing significant with their life.
To avert this situation, it is vitally important for a parent to proactively interact with their children to mold and shape success, but this can also be applied to supervisor and subordinate relationships.
When I joined the military I saw a similar “detached parent” situation, but instead of seeing it in my mother or father, I saw it in a supervisor.
I was new to the Air Force and didn’t know what to expect. Much like a “detached parent,” my supervisor never got involved and provided no guidance. I simply did my job and went home.
I accomplished everything asked of me. In my eyes, I was an outstanding Airman. Then, all of a sudden, my enlisted performance report was due. I didn’t know what an EPR was. I didn’t even know I was graded for my performance and never had a mid-term feedback.
My very first EPR was a four.
I learned from my first supervisor what not to do, and this bad experience catapulted my life into excellence. I used the experiences of my parent-childhood upbringing, with the help of a great supervisor, who would constantly remind me, “When excellence is the standard, good isn’t good enough.”
This supervisor led by example and instilled good work ethics. She said when you walk past a problem, you set a new standard. As she would say, “Never walk past a problem, face it head on, and come up with a solution.”
In one instance, she pointed out that when you see trash on the ground, pick it up and throw it in the trash. If you walk passed the trash, you set a new standard. As time passes, other people will walk past it and more trash will accumulate. If you know a better way of resolving a problem, use your expertise to help solve the problem.
It only takes one good, interactive supervisor to know the importance of communicating with subordinates and explaining expectations to better an Airman. As a leader, set your standards high and insist your people measure up. This is also stated in the professional development guide.
Neglecting performance feedback is detrimental, just like the parent not communicating with the child who does not succeed in life. Supervisors play a vital role in the success of Airmen — avoid becoming the “detached supervisor.”
Airmen may succeed without you, and learn from your bad supervision, but strive for excellence and set up your Airmen for success.
I’m always striving to improve and become a better Senior NCO and actively play a role in the success of Airmen. As mom stated – average isn’t going to cut it and I continue to pass that along to my troops.
After my first EPR, all my remaining EPR’s have been a five. In my professional development, my college cumulative GPA is a 3.8.
Like my supervisor emphasized, excellence is the standard. Doing your job and going home isn’t enough. Be the difference you want to see in the world. You are a part of something bigger than yourself, so set the example and be involved, because someone is always watching.
As a part of the United States Air Force, stand strong and live up to the challenge. Excellence in all we do!