The best job in the Air Force

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Bionca Lindsey
  • 28th Medical Group
Being a supervisor is the most important job in the Air Force. You're now responsible for someone else's career. If you perform poorly as a supervisor, the end result could be a substandard subordinate. Do you want to be responsible for someone's failure?

I've heard many people tell me about bad supervisors, and the sad premise is they seem to follow the same trend they complained about. They don't take time to give feedback. They don't correct poor performance. This may be because they fear confronting the individual or they haven't had experience in addressing the root problem. Also, they don't change negative training stagnation processes even when empowered.

So what's it all about and where are we headed if this trend continues? Could it be we promoted individuals too fast to fill the mid-level enlisted gap? Have they had and the individuals did not get a chance to evolve into the role of being a supervisor? Could it be we just don't know it's our responsibility to care about the individual we are supervising?
First I would like to challenge you to care. We can no longer treat people any kind of way just because they're the lowest ranking person. If rank has its privilege, how did you get there without going through the ranks? You started out at the foundation level learning your specialty, and once you proved yourself, a supervisor or trainer signed you off on a task.

When I say care, think back to when you had a supervisor who you felt did not care about you and your family. To change this trend is a simple task: think about everything you wished your supervisor would have done for you and do it. The rewards are endless and it will make the next challenge easier because you will have established a rapport with your subordinate.

Once a rapport is established it's easier to give feedback, whether positive or negative. Remember, the first aspect about giving feedback is to be honest and timely. I can understand giving feedback seems time consuming, but actually it's not. Just start off with your expectations. Move on to addressing competency in performing one's job. When you transition to customs and courtesies you can simply say the Air Force has standards. The Air Force standards are self explanatory so you can spend as much time as you feel comfortable.

Feedbacks normally become difficult when the performance is substandard. This can go smoother when you start and end with facts versus hearsay. I have followed the rule of considering how would I like to receive the news I am about to deliver and normally I say I would not want to hear anything negative during my feedback session; but, I would be fooling myself to think that I am perfect and in need of no improvement. Practice various ways to communicate your message and remember to end on a positive note. Once it is all done you can take a deep breath and move on to fixing the processes which are broken.

When thinking about broken processes, I'm referring to the ones in which you are empowered to change. If you sit back and wait on someone else to make it better the chances are it will not get better. You are in role to make decisions and to take care of your subordinate, and I hope you want to feel you accomplished this task on a daily basis.

I would like to close with a simple experiment I learned from the previous Air Education and Training Command command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Eielson when I attended my chief orientation. He asked us to write down the name of our worst supervisor on a small piece of paper and then he asked us to write down the name of our best supervisor on a small piece of paper. Once we were done we had two pieces of paper with two individual names. Next he asked us to put the paper with the best supervisor in our right pocket and then to place the paper with name of our worst supervisor in our left pocket. He ended with this question and so will I: Which pocket would your subordinates put you in?