Roll Calls are an Air Force fixture. I have attended one (in some form) almost everyday of my 20 year career. However, with very few exceptions, they were a complete waste of time.

Most Roll Calls went like this: After the initial attendance or “roll” call,  the dumping of pointless information follows for the next 5 minutes. These notes which mostly equate to reading out-loud the emails you received so that the flight chief can say everyone was briefed. Then occasionally there is the public shaming of a peer who made a similar mistake that we have all made…except he or she was caught and their punishment is to “educate” us all at roll call. Even more rarely, there are the awards given to those who were on leave during Commander’s Call with a simple “come and get it” presentation.

In none of that was there any direction given or useful information passed. Basically, we not only wasted the time of those standing there hearing about the base picnic, we are wasting a golden opportunity to align our team. This is our chance as leaders to align the team with the direction of the unit.

I have learned over the years the most important thing to communicate are the 4 P’s: Priorities, Problems, Processes and Praise.

Priorities: Share what we are working towards in the short and long term. Stop sending your team off to just go through the motions of the day and then get upset that they are simply going through the motions of the day. Something as simple as, “We have had a trend of errors lately and the group is making it a priority to remove single points of failure. If you see an area like this, bring me your ideas.”

Problems: There is not a shop or workcenter on the planet that doesn’t have some problems. Encourage the team to highlight these areas and then to solve them. A mentor of mine once told me, “If you see a way to make your job better, do it. If you’re not sure, ask. However, I am not doing your job and I don’t always see your problems. Stop tripping over the same thing every day.”

Processes: When there is a process change, this needs to be briefed to those it impacts. This needs to be repeated and briefed and trained until there is no question that all understand it. Processes ensure we are all doing the same thing, the same way, every time. They matter.

Praise: Public humiliation is never effective. It might make a difference for a brief moment, but you lost that person’s heart and trust. The fear of it might defer a few from making the same mistake, but the desired impact is completely lost. Rather, praise lifts everyone up. A simple “thank you” for a specific milestone or action by an individual or team is very powerful. I always look to praise those exemplifying the priorities we are working towards. If you want a behavior repeated, reward it.

Please, look for ways to best leverage the precious face time you are gifted with your team. Wasting a single second on reading spam mail, qualifies as FWA in my book. Use the 4 P’s to help guide you and to align your team on what really matters.

Advertisements