Know what your Airmen are looking for professionally and strive to get them there

  • Published
  • By Command Chief Master Sgt. Rob Safley
  • 301st Fighter Wing

I want to touch on taking care of our resources this month. Specifically our #1 asset--our Airmen.  Over your career, you have undoubtedly heard “take care of your people, and they will take care of you.” Have you talked to your Airmen to see what their motivation for being here is? Do you know their future goals? How leaders treat others in the organization, how they emulate followership, and their priorities/focus trickles down to the lowest levels. A leader’s values and work philosophy impacts the entire team. A study by the Dale Carnegie library noted that 80% of employees who were dissatisfied at work had a supervisor who was disengaged. Whether it’s showing appreciation for an individual, supporting team endeavors, or advocating for the team, leadership matters. Leaders who fail at these tasks demotivate the organization and can drive some employees away.

We need to refocus our culture. This is a top-down endeavor. We also need to be better with talent management: putting the right people, in the right position, at the right time. There should not be an “it’s my turn” mentality. We need to invest in everyone’s development. Our senior leaders need to continue to develop themselves and others. Our mid-level supervisors need to engage with developing themselves and others. Everyone should be invested in growing our Airmen. From the seasoned senior noncommissioned officers to the newest Airman, we need to ensure everyone is armed with the right tools and skill set necessary to lead our future force. This is the 301st Fighter Wing’s #2 priority: Recruit, Train, and Retain Quality Airmen. We need to embrace the Profession of Arms, enhance our culture of shared identity, and foster relationships built on trust and respect.   

Are you leading by example no matter where you are in the hierarchy? Is Professional Military Education a priority for you? Do you champion it for your Airmen? Are they getting accurate/timely feedback and an EPR that captures the great things they do each year?  Are they receiving recognition through quarterly awards and earned decorations?  I’m always surprised when I sit on a board or meet SNCOs who have never had a decoration, or it has been 10+ years since they were recognized. We can certainly do better! Would you say your Airmen feel cared for, respected, rewarded, and secure? If not, you may need to make some course corrections.

We just completed the Annual Awards phase and the *Reserve Enlisted Development Plan, Enlisted Developmental Education Board, and Stripes for Exceptional Performers II stages are close. Are you setting yourself up for success in these endeavors? Are your Airmen interested in development courses or deserving of that elusive next stripe? Are you helping your Airmen succeed and get to that next level, or is your focus on trudging through the daily grind? Fast-forward six months and the daily grind is still there. Did you invested in your Airmen, train them to replace you, and set the 301 FW up for future success…or did they leave because they were not respected, rewarded, or provided growth opportunities?

Let’s get after it!

*If any of these programs interest you or you lack fidelity on the details, please see your First Sergeant or Chief.  

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