Focus: Get back in the game

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. John Anderson
  • 28th Maintenance Group quality assurance chief
In today's Air Force, I think the word of the day should be "focus." 

Having this focus is important because no matter what an Airman's profession is, distractions of any kind can hinder and impact the production effort tremendously if their head is not in the game.

This focus can be affected, however, because all Airmen have many issues to deal with in both their personal and professional lives that can easily divert their attention from their job.

I have been in the aircraft maintenance career field for more than 28 years, and the margin for error is slim to none. However, problems do arise and it's usually attributed to the lack of focus on the task at hand. This can include not following technical orders, Air Force Instructions or cutting corners.

The results of these actions can result in catastrophic or even fatal consequences. This is why during my newcomer's briefings, focus was a topic I felt was an absolute must to be addressed to Airmen.

An Airman who leaves home with unresolved issues is very unlikely to perform at 100 percent efficiency at work. This Airman alone can greatly impact an organization by lowering morale because if he or she is not pulling their weight or because another Airman had to accomplish a task.

These struggling Airmen should look to their supervisors to receive the encouragement they need to get them back on track. This is why the top priority for supervisors should be ensuring we take care of our subordinates and remove distractions in order to maintain focus on the mission.

How do supervisors do this?

Deployment schedules and the operations tempo certainly take their toll on Airmen. One suggestion for supervisors is to encourage open communication within their unit and talk with their subordinates often to know what is going on in their lives. Our Airmen shouldn't have the impression that they are alone and have to fix everything themselves -- there is always help available.

Correcting issues when they are small is far better than tackling a bigger problem later. For the subordinate, honest communication is a two-way street. Talking to a supervisor shouldn't be looked upon as a last resort; the sooner, the better.

One thing to keep in mind is a supervisor won't always have all the answers, but they do know where to get help if the need arises. Though the answers may not be what an Airman wants to hear, it is probably the best fit for the situation. Don't give up on supervisors; they have a wealth of experience.

Everyone in the armed forces has a job to do. We count on each other to get the Air Force mission done. Everything we do must be completed to the best of our ability, but if there are issues or distractions to be resolved, work them immediately with supervision, regain focus and get back in the game.