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Being a good supervisor and paying it forward

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jennifer Wampler
  • 8th Operations Group first sergeant
So, you have just graduated Airmen Leadership School and now that you have returned to your unit, you have been assigned a new airman. Now what do you do? It's simple, just make sure the feedbacks are done and the enlisted performance report is written and you are good to go.

Not so fast.

Becoming a supervisor is not just about doing the basics, but about becoming invested in developing your Airmen and providing the necessary tools in order for them to pay it forward as they become supervisors. In the age of technology, many of our personnel products have become automated and we tend to take for granted that everyone knows what resources are available and what site(s) to use based upon needed information.

I realized this myself when an Airman walked into my office to ask a promotion question and when I asked if he looked in the Personnel Records Display Application (PRDA) to find out when his EPR closed, he did not know what I was talking about.

So, as a new supervisor, where do you begin? ALS is the starting foundation in developing you into becoming a supervisor and leader, but it cannot teach you everything within 4.5 weeks. It is simple; first, ask questions from those who have the resources, such as your supervisor, flight chief, superintendant, first sergeant, etc. Ask them about what they think a good supervisor is and what their expectations are. Second, understand where you can find your resources; common questions you may get are:
  • When is my EPR due?
  • When can I reenlist?
  • How do I know when I can sew on my stripe?
  • When do I test for my next rank?
  • How do I know what I need to score to make it?
  • I was supposed to receive a medal from my last base, but don't I know if I received it or not?
The Air Force Portal is the best resource navigation tool to find your information. Take the time to navigate through it. Air Force Personnel Services is the gateway to learn about retention, Career Job Reservation (CJR), reenlistment, promotion, assignments, etc. PRDA is the historical data collector. Every time a medal, EPR, life insurance, reenlistment paperwork, etc. is signed, it is placed in PRDA. Every member has access to this, it is a records resource - so when your subordinate comes to you with such questions, you'll know right where to direct them.

Third, your base MPS is a good resource as well. They are the functioning personnel experts. As I had stated before, the AF Portal is a great resource tool, but automation isn't always accurate. Sometimes, a friendly face will get you a lot farther than surfing the portal, or at least they can point you in the right direction.

And lastly, remember this, only you have control of your career and what type of supervisor you will be. So when it comes time for the next generation to pay it forward, what type of foundation do you want to leave behind for them to stand on?