KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --
Airmen from Kingsley field met for two hours in the base theater September 8, 2018, to learn about leadership across generations in a presentation by Senior Master Sgt. Cristina Cunningham and Master Sgt. Colette Roe from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
The purpose of this training was “to give everyone an understanding that generations are what they are, and we can still build effective teams out of them,” according to Cunningham.
The presentation was put together after Chief Master Sgt. Mark McDaniel, 173rd Fighter Wing command chief, saw a collection of courses taught at Luke AFB and requested a condensed version for the Airmen at Kingsley Field.
“We combined three classes to make this presentation for Kingsley Field,” says Cunningham.
During the two hour course, Airmen learned about the differences between various generations that they will work with during their military service, from the Silent Generation through the today’s Millennials and onward in to the future.
Stereotypes and unrealistic expectations of members of a different generations can lead to issues in the workplace. Learning about how generational differences affect relationships enables both leaders and followers to better understand each other and interact more smoothly. The presenters emphasized that although many people might fit into pre-established stereotypes, just as many people won’t.
Cunningham taught the first half of the lesson, showing informational, and at times humorous, videos that highlighted the generational gaps in communication. Airmen learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and how it relates to an Airman’s sense of satisfaction in the workplace. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs highlights the importance of the various requirements a person might have — for example, physiological needs (basic requirements such as sustenance) will take top priority over safety needs, which, in turn, take priority over esteem and self-actualization.
Airmen learned about perceptual biases which can affect a long term working relationship and were reminded that internal dialogues are rarely evident to an external observer. To illustrate this, Roe guided the group though an activity where participants wrote down a time that someone had wronged them, and how they felt. Then they wrote how they responded and finally gave the paper to someone else to receive feedback. The catch, however, was that the second person could only see the final action and not the instigation or any of the thought processes involved. This exercise showed how people often see what we do, but not why we do it.
“I think it’s invaluable to have training like this at Kingsley Field. I can’t wait to see what they bring to the base in the future,” says Staff Sgt. Penny Snoozy, 173rd FW, who attended the course.
Effective team building and the valuing empathy and communication were also part of the lesson plan. Cunningham says the goal was for Airmen to walk away from this lesson with a deeper understanding of the differences that they face in a modern, diverse workplace, and how to leverage these differences to make a stronger team.