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You can't find all the answers in a manual

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Whether you're buying a brand-new car, an upgraded computer system or a high-tech toy for a three-year-old child, you're almost always guaranteed to get a very thorough owner's manual and operating instructions explaining - often in painstaking detail - the proper use, care and warnings associated with your new purchase.

Get a new employee and you get none of these things.

That's because employees - whether they are military or civilian - don't come with either operating manuals or guarantees, and supervisors can't go to any book or on-line service to "fix things" when they go wrong.

This is precisely why supervisors at every level need to ensure they take the time to find out what makes their employees tick. What kind of work environment they thrive in and what kinds of situations make them comfortable and uncomfortable.

There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to leading our people. They're all different ... they all have different "hot buttons" that either ignite their performance or diffuse their participation and contributions.

Hopefully, the days of the supervisor mentality of "it's my way or the highway" is a thing of the past around here. And there's a good reason for that. Our employees are more skilled, more educated and more professional than at any other time in our history. We need to do more than just hear what they have to say. We need to listen to them.

For us, especially in this day and age, to be stuck in the "this-is-the-way-we-have-always-done-it" mindset is a very dangerous thing to do. The world is constantly changing and we need to be able to be flexible enough to change with it. We can have the most up-to-date technology and equipment in the world, but if we don't have the right people operating them - the right people questioning why we do things the way we do around here - we could find ourselves in big trouble down the road.

What we do around here in the 45th Space Wing is vitally important, not just to Air Force Space Command and the Air Force in general, but also in support of the Global War on Terror.

We all need to be on the same page, and to do that, we need to know our people. Only then can we motivate them to do their very best. Go Sharks!