Career Focus: Take care of your Airmen Published Jan. 10, 2008 By Master Sgt. Mariana G. Sobolewski Team Kirtland Career Assistance Advisor KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- You hear it and read it everywhere: "Take care of your Airman." It is the Airman's roll call topic for Dec. 19, and the "Season for Caring." How do you take care of your Airmen if you don't know what their needs are? Here are three tools I have used to take care of my Airmen. First, get to know them; second, get involved; and third, maintain open communication. As supervisors you must be a positive example in the lives of your subordinates. When I was an impressionable one-striper, I can remember watching my supervisor's every move. She presented herself as a true professional everyday and I was in awe of her capabilities. She interacted well with her peers and subordinates and I wanted to be just like her. My supervisor realized this and began to tailor her own supervisory skills to fit my needs and assisted me in accomplishing my career goals - she got to know my needs. Informal feedback sessions are a great time to discuss goals, needs and wants of those we supervise. The result is that we develop our mix of "people skills" necessary to lead our Airmen. Get involved in the lives of your Airmen. A supervisor should interact with their subordinates daily even though this task may not be feasible for some AFSCs due to opposite shifts or different locations. In these cases, making the effort to interact with your subordinates is better than making no effort at all. Your attempts will be worth your time in the long run. For those supervisors who have the same work schedule as your subordinates, it is imperative to make the time for daily interaction even if it is just small talk. Today's enlisted Airmen face unique challenges in a leaner workforce sustaining and supporting the global war on terrorism. It is vital to establish open lines of communication with our subordinates and as supervisors we must do what we can to make our subordinates comfortable to address their personal issues. Stay involved, communicate, and provide the necessary means to pass information down the chain. Airmen, who have situational awareness on their environment, can better assist with mission requirements. By doing so, they prove their commitment to the team and supervisors will more likely have their buy-in when implementing any future changes. If you would like career assistance or desire more information about enlisted professional development classes or benefits, please contact me at 846-6636 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.