JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
The success of the Air Force relies on developing people. Current leaders need to build and mentor future leaders. There is a responsibility for Airmen (enlisted, officer, and civilian) to be the best they can be in order to support the mission.
“Bottom line, we trust our Airmen.” said Col. Shelly Mendieta, AETC A3/6 Deputy Director for Force Development. “We trust Airmen to make decisions -- we trust their skills and their professionalism -- we trust their abilities to think and execute. Our Airmen are the asymmetric advantage of the DAF. Trusting them, means that we also owe it to every Airman to invest in them and ensure they have deliberate opportunities and proper resources to develop their competencies.”
The Airman’s Foundational Competency of “Develops People” starts with the mindset that development is a shared responsibility between the Airman and the development team; supervisors, leaders, mentors, and coaches. You are in a position to find out the developmental needs and career goals of your Airmen.
There are Airman’s Foundational Competencies that every Airmen can build with for success. There are also occupational competencies that are specific to a uniformed member’s Air Force Specialty, or for a civilian member’s job series, as identified by senior members of the career field.
As a supervisor, leader, coach, or mentor, providing an environment that supports the development of people ensures that the Air Force has a deep bench of talent to support every mission.
An important part of “Develops People” is providing tools and opportunities (i.e., training, education and experiences) to improve Airmen through the use of competencies, such as MyVector, Developmental Special Experiences (DSEs), badging and credentialing, and increased responsibilities.
MyVector provides Airmen access to coaches and mentors, to DSEs, and to tools like the Air Force Competency Self-Assessment (myvector.us.af.mil/myvector/home).
By using this self-assessment tool, Airmen will be well on their way to self-improvement. But you can go a step further and Request Supervisor Feedback or Request 360 Feedback after completing the Self-Assessment.
Once you see the power of those tools, you can recommend them to Airmen you supervise, lead, mentor, or coach. They will get the instant feedback and a plan with links to opportunities to get after competencies that are identified as needing improvement, and they will also see how others view them.
Beyond the tools in MyVector, you can e-mail a link to a Ted Talk or an article you found on a soft skill you believe is relevant to an Airman’s growth. A personal e-mail helps show that you are invested in their success, just as they are. This is just one example – use your Creative Thinking foundational competency to come up with other ways to develop people.
As you think about how to develop people, consider these concepts.
- Advocate - Find training courses, developmental programs, and guest speakers that develop people. Make it your mission to extend development beyond OJT and CDCs.
- Make time – Get to know the Airmen you supervise, lead, coach, and mentor. Understand what is going on in their lives and learn their career goals, passions, and worries. Find projects that help to meet their career and life goals; these may be outside their comfort zone.
- Advise - Do not wait for the mandatory sessions to develop people. Developmental discussions should be an ongoing process. Chat after a meeting or while getting coffee.
- Feedback - We don’t always see our behaviors. As a supervisor, leader, coach, and mentor, you might see a competency deficiency or ineffective behavior that holds an Airman back. Share how you’ve developed, and how others challenged you to get out of the comfort zone. Most importantly, listen with an open mind.
Don’t let development or competency be the buzz word of the year. Make “Develops People” part of your everyday experience. Supervisors, leaders, coaches, and mentors all take time to develop people to meet goals and missions.
“Show your Airmen that you value them by taking the time to help them develop”, Mendieta said. “When we as leaders are committed to our Airmen and demonstrate that through actions, we will continue to grow and become an even stronger Air Force.”