A while ago, I was asked to sit down with an NCO who had a task and time management problem. Short timed for PCS and bringing in a different perspective, we got to work. They thought we were going to do it at their desk and go through each process individually, instead, I asked they not pull anything up but they grab their cover, it was time to go mobile. We were going to get into the wickets. Hearing their story, and sharing mine, the field was set, Game On!

It quickly became apparent there wasn’t a task/time management problem, there was a voice problem, coupled with a standards problem.  This NCO was picking up the slack from subordinates not meeting standards while correcting errors because the OIC directed they just solve it, which led to falling behind on other routine work. They were quick to accept the directives instead of pushing back to enforce standards because it kept the boss happy.

Not all problems are solved in a day, so we work on growing ourselves and finding our voice.  I was once charged with the following points and encourage all my brothers and sisters in arms do the same:

  1. Inner voice matters and should be expressed.  Speaking up, we enforce standards.  Never accept anything less than the best.  There are techniques to get everyone on board with those standards.  They include: building more time into a process. Sending something back with corrections to be re-accomplished and is acceptable because we accept the standards we allow. Identify things that need to change with a proposed solution.
  2. Ask questions of your peers.  Stop trying to work in a silo of excellence. Share experiences with each other.
  3. Get out of your office.  Move away from your environment and comfort zone to learn something new.
  4. Lead up. Their OIC wasn’t a bad person, just inexperienced and needed the NCO to explain to explain their viewpoints. Being the first time to work directly for an officer can be challenging, leading up removes some roadblocks to enhance the mission and the relationship.

Our voice is built from understanding what is expected, what is acceptable, and actually vocalizing those things up, down, and across the chain.

Make it happen and find your voice.

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