Joint Base Charleston


Communication skills, more important than you think

By Lt. Col. Claudia Bermudez | 628th Logistic Readiness Squadron commander | July 21, 2015

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- One of the biggest challenges we all face is trying to decide what we want to be.  For the longest time I worried that I didn't have a "real" calling.  I didn't want to be a doctor or a nurse or a lawyer.  I was just an Airman.   Doing what Airmen do: CDCs, OJT, getting qualified on vehicles and on test equipment, learning stuff on the computer and generally figuring out how the Air Force worked. 

However, being an Airman comes with certain expectations.  We are entrusted with ever greater responsibilities as we are promoted.  As a young supervisor, I was responsible for training and disciplining of the Airmen assigned to me.  I think my communications skills were less than they should have been for both my subordinates and my supervisors. I kept thinking it needed to be a special meeting or a "one-on-one" discussion.  As I matured, I realized that day-to-day communication was more important than the occasional closed door "oh my gosh, what did I do now" meetings.  

As a young staff sergeant with seven years under my belt, I was confident in my ability to take care of business.  So I was a little surprised when my NCOIC asked me to come over later that afternoon for a little talk.  Earlier that same day I had to explain to him why my team, which consisted of two Airmen, was unable to complete the task of setting up some equipment in the time required for an ongoing mission.  Thankfully, after some serious scrambling and cannibalizing, we were able to get the equipment set up.  As I sat in front of him, he handed me a piece of paper.  It was quite a rude awakening when I realized he had handed me a LOR.  He proceeded, in a very calm and conversational tone, to explain how I had failed in my duties as a supervisor and team leader and how my failure could have impacted the mission.  I was utterly shocked to have received a LOR.  Later, after having calmed down, I realized that he needed me to understand how significant my failure could have been, because I had, in fact, failed.  I had assumed that a proper inventory had been done but I failed to communicate this requirement.  I also failed to ask when the last inventory was done or to check the paperwork.  As the person in charge, I was the one responsible. 

As a commander, I try to share as much as I can with the people I work with both up and down the chain.  Issues may become monumental if you keep them to yourself.  The leadership chain exists to help you resolve things even if some yelling or cursing is involved.  In the end, the goal is to analyze the situation and come up with the best solution to the problem.   By the way, at some point in my 27 year career I realized that being an Airman is my calling.

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