Cultivating a positive culture

  • Published
  • By Commentary by Col. Michael Mendoza
  • 22nd Mission Support Group commander
It is 2014 and McConnell Air Force Base is preparing for a challenging year for our Air Force. We will definitely have our hands full as we face a tough road ahead with force management programs and potential KC-46 coming to the base.

As you are all aware, there are also changes to our feedback forms and performance reports. Your performance assessments will now include your contributions to organizational/command climate. I've read a few articles on this change and have heard some comments on the matter from several Airmen. Regardless of your opinion, I wanted to share a few thoughts about organizational climate, culture, values and how these are critical to mission accomplishment and unit success.

The Air Force emphasizes sexual assault prevention, response and the correlation it has with negative organizational climate. While sexual assaults are very serious, we need to understand that organizational climate has always been a key indicator of a unit's success and organizational health.

Every Airman, in some way, influences their work environment, which impacts mission accomplishment directly. As Airmen, we all need to be aware of what we are doing to encourage a positive work environment for the good of the unit and the successful accomplishment of the mission.

A good climate comes from a solid organizational culture built upon strong core values and an emphasis on the dignity and respect of all its members. Healthy and productive organizational cultures don't just happen, they must be cultivated.

In the book "The Value of Core Values", by Lisa Huetteman, the author claims that organizational success is primarily attributed to the culture that its leaders cultivate. I will add that I believe it is the responsibility of all of us to cultivate that culture. We can't just talk about it. We must live by it and be committed to it. More importantly, Ms. Huetteman suggests that cultivating a positive culture is the primary responsibility of leaders at all levels in the organization. It affects our decision making and the strategic direction we want our folks to follow.

I believe it is your number one responsibility, as an Airman, supervisor, superintendent or commander, to cultivate a positive culture. "It requires consistent and effective communication in word and deed." It is true that we all must be good role models. Good leaders must supervise, set goals and provide direction, all of which are very important, but none of that matters if the work environment is poor, uncomfortable or even hostile to its members.

A good leader and a good wingman not only sets a positive examples but is wise enough to recognize when members are not fostering a positive culture. A good leader and a good wingman must be strong enough to confront the issue and take a stand. Ms. Huetteman said it well, "Vision, values, strategy and culture must be in harmony for the organization to succeed."

Our evaluation forms have changed and we should now be focused on organizational climate. As a wingman, you'll need to ask yourself, "What am I doing to foster a healthy work environment and cultivate a positive unit culture?"

Col. Mike Mendoza, 22nd Mission Support Group commander