By CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 CALEB KITTRELL, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, K-16 Air Base, KoreaJuly 30, 2012
As Leaders, we need to stress to our Soldiers the importance of pride that comes along with hard work. I believe the younger generation needs to understand the value of standing behind the work that they perform every day to keep our aviation community safe. A few companies have come out with "DRIFT," an acronym for Do it RIght the First Time. This philosophy also encompasses and applies to Army aviation. The following are my three strategies:
1. Recognize the high cost of cutting corners and making mistakes.
2. Leaders continuously monitor and get out to places where Soldiers are more apt to not take their time and make mistakes.
3. Work proactively to address the flaws and help the chain of command provide solutions.
The first step in correcting some systemic issues in your organization is to help your Soldiers recognize the high cost of cutting corners and making mistakes. The Army has standards for everything and they need to be sought out, instructed and followed. Following the standard ensures quality and uniformity, which will aid in having a safer workplace and in finding system defects. Zero defects are probably an unattainable goal, but when every aspect of the job is subject to scrutiny, better and safer operating practices come about.
Also, if Soldiers make mistakes, encourage them to be upfront and honest without fearing repercussion. Sharing lessons learned can help prevent future accidents, saving lives and protecting equipment.
Leaders, lead from the front and get involved. When Soldiers see Leaders participating, they recognize the importance of their job and tend to perform at a higher level. Showing your Soldiers the right way and enforcing the standard will steer your unit toward success. As important as Advanced Individual Training is, Soldiers need to add the experience that comes with the day-to-day performance of their tasks to build their skill levels. The most important thing is to encourage them in doing it right and doing their best. That's all you can ask. They will listen.
Lastly, if something is broke, fix it. It's easy to say but sometimes hard to execute. Do you have people in your unit always complaining about problems and never providing solutions? If you see a problem in the way operations are being performed, bring it to the forefront -- either with the individual responsible or to the leadership that can effect change. Don't leave an issue for someone else to find; it will only build and may end up hurting your credibility. Address bigger flaws at command level to bring about change. Never go to the command without a solution to fix the problem.