Enhancing trust is the first step to reforming the organization

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Timothy C. White Jr.

In my last commentary, I rolled out three individual lines of effort – comprehensive readiness, deliberate talent management and enhancing organizational trust – to align with our strategic priorities. Today, I want to focus on LOE3, enhancing organizational trust.

During my most recent trip to Indo-Pacific Command, a Reserve Citizen Airman asked me what I meant by enhancing organizational trust. Originally, I had my own reservations about this particular LOE because of its possible connotations, but here are a couple examples of what I mean by enhancing organizational trust.

Several weeks ago, retired Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, the former command chief for Air Combat Command, reached out to me about a Reservist he ran into. The Reservist expressed frustration and concern about retirement benefits and entitlements he had not yet received.

For some reason, perhaps it was just coincidental, the Reservist felt the necessity to reach outside the command for resolve. After personally speaking to the member, I tasked my team for action and the issue has since been resolved to the member’s satisfaction. The trust this member once had in the organization has been restored.

In another example, I recently received two separate inquiries in which Reservists reached out to the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force’s office because they had not received internal resolve to their individual concerns.

What I’ve discovered is that situations like these often boil down to a lack of communication. Here’s my point: When situations reach or even bypass my office it’s because in some form or fashion members have lost or lack trust in the organization.

Regardless of the reason or status, anytime I receive inquiries like these, I personally look into them. In fact, at my request, one of my numbered Air Force command chiefs recently met one-one-one with a member who expressed some significant concerns with the member’s unit. I have and will continue to give out my direct line and e-mail and will instruct Reservists to contact me directly regarding issues or concerns involving them or their family members.

Although an inquiry may or may not be resolved in the member’s favor, I’m still going to look into it. It provides me with an opportunity to enhance trust in the organization, which directly impacts recruitment, retention and our ability to meet national security objectives as outlined in the National Defense Strategy.

Every member, past and present, has a story to tell. That story can be positive or negative depending on the experience the member had. A member with an awesome 30-year career can taint our image for future members based entirely on a negative experience in the member’s final year. Likewise, if we course correct where we went wrong, not only do we restore faith with that member, we have the potential of gaining new members.

In turn, members will share their adventure and their positive outcome, even if they endured a few hiccups along the way.

Lt. Gen. Scobee tasked me with leading the enlisted force of Air Force Reserve Command. That means looking at the hard questions, like what does it mean to enhance organizational trust.

Although it may be my final line of effort, enhancing organizational trust is the first step to reforming the organization.

These lines of effort are no different from those of my predecessors or any other current chief taking care of Airmen. I simply labeled the bucket of actions we carry out each and every day through more effective communication up and down the chain of command.

Please continue to share your comments with me at afrc.ccc@us.af.mil. It is an honor to be your command chief.