An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | June 26, 2009

Working as a Team — The Only Way To Go!

By Lt. Col. Kit Lambert 316th Security Forces Squadron commander

This past Sunday was Father's Day. To some, it is just another holiday. However, I used this week to reflect upon the importance of being a father and how being a father relates to living and working in a military environment. I am a father of three great children, and I have a beautiful wife of 19 years. I love them all, and I would be lost without them. 

As a family, we simply just can't do anything without teamwork. When all of us communicate and work together effectively, everything is much smoother. When my wife is busy with some big project, the rest of us usually try to pitch in to pick up the house, vacuum, do the dishes and wash the clothes so she can focus on what she is doing. I sometimes mess up the laundry and some important piece of clothing gets a spot burned into it in the dryer, but we try to help out. 

When I have something busy at work going on, Debbie and the kids try to really help me any way they can. When the kids have disagreements, we begin to become less effective. We can't figure out what to do together as a family and no one has any fun. If one of us slacks off and neglects to do our share of the household tasks, the rest pay for it. I run out of socks, we run out of clean dishes, the bathroom trash can gets packed full until the trash overflows onto the floor. 

My wife and I love each other very much, but we aren't perfect. If we have a disagreement, the kids know about it just by our body language, the house gets quiet and everyone is less happy. As soon as we smile and I apologize (yeah, I am usually the culprit) and laugh, everything is right back to normal, and our family engine runs on all eight cylinders again, rather than sputtering around on two or three. 

Our military family runs the same way. We have a big mission partner family at Andrews and in the National Capital Region. We all have important missions that need to get done. At times, one mission is a little more important than the others (Joint Service Open House, Inauguration, G-20 Summit, etc.). During these times, the mission partners band together and pick up the load for their fellow servicemembers with the knowledge that each would do the same for the other when they are in need of help. 

For example, most recently during the Joint Service Open House, the 316th Wing family needed the help of hundreds of augmentees from other services and mission partners, and we just could not have done it without them. Everyone came through and it worked great in the end. When our 113th Wing or 459th Air Refueling Wing brothers and sisters have an inspection, we all try to pitch in to help with the goal of getting an "Outstanding" for them because a win for them is a win for the whole team! 

Everyone needs help some time. Forging good relationships when it is not in your best interest is the best way to make lifelong friends. 

Just like a family, each day we go to work, we have to challenge ourselves to make that extra effort to pick up more than just our share of the load. If we all only shoulder our required load, everyone else suffers because, just like a family, someone always needs a hand. When one member of the team, squadron, group, wing or base, pokes at the other, it takes both down. 

My very first Air Force mentors, Senior Master Sgt. Curtis Mayfield, a smart and crusty Vietnam-era security policeman, and Capt. Ben Jenkins, a young and friendly security police operations officer, unknowingly taught me some very helpful rules to live by. I have to work at them every day, and I always encourage others to do the same. 

"What can I do to help you?" This is the first question any teamwork oriented person asks. They seek out people they can help and they help them. Finally, if they can't help, they help to find the person that can. They never let a person leave un-helped or unhappy. 

"Replace the word 'No' with the phrase, 'Yes, we can do that. However, we may need to do these things in order to make that happen.'" I can give you options and tell you how we can do just about anything. It may require some things (manpower, money, change to an AFI or time) to get it done though. More often than not, you can work out an option that can work, or, the person will realize that the current way is really the best way. More often than not, you created a happy customer that knows you are not a "no" person. 

"Do the right thing for everyone rather than what is good for you, your section or your squadron." Don't close up shop if there is a customer waiting. If someone comes in for help and the person who is supposed to help them is out to lunch, step up and help the customer rather than sending them away. My personal pet peeve: turning a person away from the installation gate if you know or suspect they really belong on the base or truly need base access. Help them find a person to vouch them on base. 

"Don't walk by a problem, or you may have just created a new base standard." Everything is everyone's job. If you walk by a piece of trash, safety issue or something needing to be fixed, others will see it and will emulate your lead. If they see you doing the right thing, they will follow! "Try hard to improve at least three things a day." Help at least three people who haven't asked for your help each day (inside and outside of your organization). If you can't look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and recount what you did to help others, you probably didn't. If you help someone else who hasn't asked for it, you just made a friend for life. 

"There is always someone who has it tougher than you, and they are probably standing in front of you needing your help." Make sure you give it to them. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

"Have a positive attitude." Positive attitudes are infectious. 

I guarantee you that every good turn you do for someone else will pay you back ten-fold in the future when the person you helped is the person you need help from - just like in a family. You will find others removing weight from your shoulders when you haven't asked. Your problems will begin to get easier because everyone around you will pick up a little more than their share of the load. Finally, you will be happier and prouder of yourself for what you did to make Team Andrews and Team NCR a better place to be! Teamwork is infectious. I challenge you to catch the infection and pass it on!