Winning with people: Play the cards you were dealt

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- It took me quite a while to understand how the adage: "play with the cards you were dealt" had anything to do with supervision. A smart person may think it means using their employees where they can contribute the best.

However, putting that into action with my staff was nearly impossible.

Senior Airman Thursday was disorganized; always missed suspense dates and couldn't find anything she was working on. Staff Sgt. Monday couldn't write a coherent sentence and I always rewrote his talking papers and performance reports. Then, there was Senior Airman Friday--talk, talk, talk. She couldn't go next door without being out of the office for an hour and talking to everyone along the way.

Because they did so many things wrong, I often wondered how we would get anything done. They were going home on time without a worry and I was left doing their work and mine.

I was tired, frustrated, and working long hours to keep the section afloat. Then it dawned on me; they must do something well.

I had to change my focus to what they did well.

Thursday was an excellent writer, so we put her in charge of writing talking papers and performance reports. We rarely had to do anything with her work except review and follow-up.

Monday was an office organizer and superb at controlling work. We had him monitor our suspense dates and then late-suspense dates became a thing of the past.

Then, there was Friday...talk, talk, talk. She got along great with everyone and became our project expediter. Anytime we needed to get a project walked through, we'd give it to Friday. She was so kind; people would do anything for her.

Play with the cards I was dealt means figuring out how my staff could contribute to the mission using their individual skills and talents, and then letting them do it. It was a win-win. I started going home on time and I got a life...well, me getting a life was a stretch.

I encourage you to play with the cards you were dealt, and you will succeed.