Commentary by Maj. John Groff
8th Maintenance Operations Squadron
3/13/2013 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) -- Who likes to be the bad guy? Do you? How many of you like to tell someone that they need a hair cut or to stop chewing tobacco outside a tobacco-use area? No one likes to be the bad guy; no one likes to correct someone doing something wrong.
Is it because of the confrontation or is it the fear of not being liked? Over the years of my service, I've noticed that more supervisors choose to overlook items that are clearly against regulation. I think for some it's because they'd prefer to be well liked by everyone.
Let's look at two examples how supervisors can be a good or bad guy:
One example is writing an enlisted performance report. Supervisors that don't provide feedback and can't take the time to sit down with their Airmen to discuss performance areas needing improvement will likely write that "firewall 5." So they get to be a good guy. That good guy would also be the one that would write a 4 without any feedback or explanation.
A bad guy would provide constructive feedback and hold their Airmen accountable when they don't improve or correct their performance. Bad guys feel they owe it to their Airmen to tell them how they're performing. How else will they ever learn how to improve? If you correct poor performance most Airmen will listen and improve. Most Airmen want to do a good job but they can't read minds.
The next example is on-the-job training. I believe we're the best-trained Air Force in the world. We take training very seriously. We take the time to make sure our Airmen know what they're doing by running them through technical schools prior to sending them to the field. Then, supervisors are expected to take them to the next level. What happens if the good guy doesn't correct their behavior on the job? They might hurt themselves, others or damage expensive equipment.
A bad guy would stay as long as it takes make sure their Airmen are the best at what they're assigned to do. Even if it makes them work longer hours or figuring out new ways to help the Airmen succeed. A bad guy will exhaust all their efforts trying to do that.
Being the bad guy for the right reasons can be gratifying whether it's rules that we all have to follow, keeping Airmen from being hurt, or helping them get back on track with their career.
My bad guy code is to be firm, fair, and polite. Whatever your policy is, stick to it. Treat everyone equally and fairly, and be polite; there's no room for jerks in the Air Force .
We're counting on you to be our bad guy when you need to be. Being a bad guy is not so bad!
4/1/2013 9:13:12 PM ET Thank you Tony from Europe. You have expressed exactly what is wrong with the EPR system.
Chamblee, Joint Base Pearl Harbor
3/30/2013 6:59:59 PM ET Here's some honest feedback. Your writing skills are not very polished. You should have had someone proofread your article.
3/26/2013 6:58:04 PM ET It is also important to consider the fact that 83 percent of all airmen received a 5 EPR in fiscal year 2012. When the Air Force leadership decides that 4 eprs are great eprs then supervisors and airmen alike would be happy to give and receive 3s and 4s. How can a 4 EPR hurt Well if 83 percent got fives then promotion is out of the question special duties require all 5 eprs and also a pcs medal requires a firewall five. A pcs medal in my opinion should be for the service given and should be awarded for all airmen who receive 4s above average but it is not. We are not the bad guys the system is set up in a way that we cannot win.
3/25/2013 1:31:16 PM ET Good article Major Groff As far as the comments from Doug at Luke evident to many of us he is an English Major but more than likely never supervised anyone. Being the bad guy as you call it is a requirement for all NCOs and Officers alike. I spent 30 plus in our USAF and the most rewarding compliment I received was from a SNCO who gave me his honest feedback that he thought I was a cant say in this forum but that my previous counseling with him for several issues actually helped him see the light. Several years after he made Chief. So keep pressing on and know that most folks will either go two ways...The Best way or the highway. Thanks for being a Bad guy as you call it. The USAF needs more like you for sure.
Gman, Hiil Depot
3/19/2013 6:20:10 PM ET Great article to remind us to uphold standards and discipline. The uninformed might believe this is self serving but in reality it will no more promote a Major to Lt Col than it will promote a MSgt to SMSgt. Again great job and don't sweat the small stuff.
3/17/2013 6:57:52 AM ET This piece had promise but it is obvious the good Major rushed to complete this article. Poor grammar aside there is nothing new or thought-provoking here nor is there a tangible example or anecdotal reference. I know the Field-Graders live in a Publish or Perish environment but a quick draft to fill a square before an OPR is conspicuously evident.
Doug, Luke AFB
3/15/2013 9:20:30 AM ET Great piece Maj. Groff. Supervisors need to understand that when you let things slide that becomes the new standard. If everyone thought about reg compliance and job performance that way we'd have one hell of an AF.
3/14/2013 8:39:19 AM ET Excellent points Major. As a prior First Sergeant I completely understand what you are dealing with every day. I share your frustration. Being in the military requires a higher standard of discipline and conduct in all aspects. Those who cannot do it right can move along. We have thousands of young Americans who would gladly join our ranks and conduct themselves correctly.