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NEWS | Oct. 23, 2014

Recognizing Airmen is always a best practice

By Lt. Col. Brad Brainard 628th Security Forces Squadron commander

A few years back, I had the pleasure of a company grade officer group mentoring session with Chief Master Sgt. Gary Colman, USAFE  command chief master sergeant. At the time, my unit was prepping for a higher headquarters inspection and I asked him to share his thoughts on why some units garnered best practices while others were marginal. His reply really stuck with me as he didn't talk about checklists, deep dives, root cause analysis or managing programs. 

His advice focused on people as the single most important factor of successful mission execution.  He said regardless of rank or time in the military, recognizing a member for outstanding performance plays a huge part in individual and unit readiness, morale and achievement -- that a focus on recognizing people would not only pay dividends in a short term inspection rating, but create long term improvement by energizing high performance 24-hours a day, seven days-a-week.  

He explained most of us simply want to know that what we do is appreciated. Whether recognizing someone informally with a simple pat on the back, or through more formal channels like quarterly and annual award programs, acknowledging a member's efforts and hard work is an outstanding motivational tool that builds confidence, fosters growth and encourages the learning process.   It also helps subordinates to see the big picture - how their job contributes to the success of the organization and the overall fulfillment of base readiness and the military mission - which in turn, blazes a path for future team successes. 

In addition, providing outward and sincere recognition inspires others to do well -- which often costs nothing and takes only a moment to accomplish. It fosters an exponential effect by encouraging other members to set high goals so they too can be recognized. Great performers boost unit effectiveness, which motivates others to high performance, which in turn fuels best practice results. It's this positive feedback loop that transforms good units into great ones. 

Leaders at all levels are responsible for creating a work environment that inspires trust, teamwork, respect and pride; these qualities naturally stimulate excellence.  While there are many different levels and aspects to this responsibility, providing encouragement through recognition is the foundational building block to outstanding performance.  Often it's a duty that seems so simple, yet is often forgotten.  Every Team Charleston member plays a vital role in our overall readiness and mission accomplishment. As leaders, supervisors and mentors, I encourage you to take the time to recognize the hard work of your teammates and subordinates.  Be bold, get involved. Be thoughtfully intrusive about knowing your people and their accomplishments, and when warranted, acknowledge, support and celebrate their efforts. Your teammates do a great number of things perfectly every day that is critical to our national defense. Stop and notice!  You will enjoy improved performance and better relationships when you catch and commend people for doing things right.  
I've often thought about the chief's encouragement to express our gratitude to others, and to never overlook that the highest praise we can give is not to simply say words, but to live by them. Ultimately, by highlighting a job "well done" today, will help produce bold leaders of tomorrow -- and it's our commitment to "serve all" and to "thank all" for a job well done. 

Thank you Team Charleston for the great job you do every day.