Adapting and overcoming

  • Published
  • By Msgt. Atiya Vaughn
  • 501st CSW
The United States Air Force has been built on long standing traditions and values. The Air Force as a whole consists of a melting pot of individuals differing in race, religion, age, and beliefs. The conflict that is sure to follow will involve the transition of a young man or woman into a highly functional member of the military; there is a big difference between the two. As a young person, opportunities to learn about life are often received from parents, parent-like figures or different experience one has been through. As a member of the military, those opportunities to learn are achieved in a similar format but from parent-like figures like our supervisors, our senior leadership or even our peers. The core values of the military should be intertwined through every member of the organization but it is easy to see how conflict can ensue because it can be quite an adjustment from freely living life to being given a structured existence.

My first experience with conflict as a new Staff Sergeant was with a new enlistee, a twenty-four year old male that had been provided for ‘babied’ his entire life. I was challenged with giving this young man some direction and a good start on his Air Force career. It had become quite apparent that this young Airman was not ready to concede to the necessary performance standards and I began to see snippets of my business class in Conflict Management come to light. It was in this moment that I realized that organizational culture does not have the same meaning to everyone. Organizational culture encompasses values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business; in this case the military. As the supervisor, it was my job to immerse him into a ‘new’ culture. Establishing trust is a great start to any relationship. I let him know that I was where he is and while the struggle is real it can be overcome. Also, with the start of any relationship there should be boundaries set particularly when dealing with individuals on a supervisory-subordinate level. Dealing with conflict as a member of the military, forces us to deal with the situation head-on because there is no way it can be avoided. As a new member to any group, this case being the United States Air Force, one must be able to adapt and it is our job as supervisors to do this to the best of our ability.