You Matter

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ian R. Hester
  • 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron
When I entered active duty service nearly 16 years ago, my commander told me to get used to change because that's what the Air Force seemed to enjoy most. Surely enough, the only constant has been change. Our missions are increasingly more complex and require more resources and time than ever before. At the same time, we are experiencing a time of increasingly finite resources. We continue to do more with less, work smarter and harder, and do it well. However, in this environment, each and every one of you matter. No one is expendable.

Praise is often handed out indiscriminately in society today - but this strategy doesn't work in today's Air Force. Honest, timely feedback is imperative to mission accomplishment and mission success hinges on everyone doing their part and doing it correctly. If you don't show up on time, the mission suffers. If you fail to learn your job, the mission suffers. The mission is enhanced when you strive to improve yourself, your team, and the quality of your work.

Many of you may never have received honest, constructive feedback prior to entering the military. It can hurt the first time and it's easy to respond defensively. But corrective feedback done well is essential in today's Air Force. We cannot afford to repeatedly fix the same mistakes and we certainly don't have enough people to cover for underperformers. Feedback is not meant to be derogatory or to belittle anyone. Also it should not be taken as a personal attack. We should be encouraged when we receive feedback because it means that someone cares enough about us to point us in the right direction. It means we matter and we are worth developing further. It means someone cares about our contributions and is willing to devote resources to improve us. Conversely, when feedback ceases we should be concerned. If your supervisor stops providing feedback you should seek them out and ask why. It could mean they've given up on you or that they perceive that you've given up on the Air Force and are no longer worthy of their limited pool of resources.

It's fitting that I write this in my last month as commander of the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron. Although we've taken part in several special humanitarian and NATO missions, it's easy to fall into the trap of viewing our normal training missions as mundane and routine. They're not - a training mission today ensures a successful airdrop tomorrow, critical supplies delivered on time, a refueling mission that keeps combat power overhead of troops in contact, and a better than 95 percent survival rate for our wounded warriors returning home. What we do here - and only here - at Altus sustains global mobility and affects the lives of millions every year. So the next time someone gives you feedback that may hurt, remember ... you matter.