The Importance of Saying Thank You

Tonight at RAF Lossiemouth, we held an awards night. It was a special one for me as it was dominated by my personal Commanding Officer's commendations but there were flight safety awards too and one for heroism in Afghanistan.

The military have long understood the power of celebrating success – we have a system of commendations, awards and medals as well as understanding the route into state awards.

The people of Lossiemouth have been through a period of deep uncertainty and now a challenging time of change as we transform into a Typhoon base. All of this is in the context of frozen pay, reduced allowances and a high Operational tempo with people deploying away from home for long periods.

This means that more than ever, our people need to know they are trusted, valued and the work they are doing is crucial. I believe that the very best way to do this is for senior people to take time out to understand the organisation and its people, to realise the importance of people's actions and to take the time to say thank you.

Tonight's award winners, with apologies for the quality of my iPhone picture

So, the simple thank you is very powerful but tonight was something more formal. It was a chance to reward 2 very special kinds of people in particular – first, the often unsung people who toil behind the scenes, day after day, often in repetitive and unglamorous jobs who represent the cogs that keep the base operating. Often, these people are civilians not military and they frequently quietly innovate around them to make things better and more efficient. Tonight we sung their praises. Secondly, teams of people. Teams and teamwork is what makes us tick and so rewarding teams not just individuals reinforces that.

So that was tonight – we celebrated procurement clerks, drivers, photographers, aircraft engineers – and an RAF Regiment corporal who fought the Taliban whilst his friends were wounded around him, stormed the enemy position and killed the enemy. All in a day's work at RAF Lossiemouth!



Highlights of the Week

After a busy few weeks at RAF Lossiemouth, hosting the major Exercise that was the Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor operational phase, then a detachment from IV Squadron based at RAF Valley, this week has settled into a more routine flow.

I welcomed new arrivals to the base early in the week. I've blogged before about the importance of speaking face-to-face with people and I like welcoming all new arrivals, explain what we do at the base and who is here as well as highlighting their role both in making sure we are a safe organisation and how I will support them in their continuous improvement activities. Their 'fresh eyes' on our operation are very valuable!

Later on I spent time at the first, then on Friday, the last session of a Lean Fundamentals course that we run here. Mainly for Lossiemouth personnel, but with places for people from other bases, the course is one of 3 we run to teach and train Lean principles, techniques and leadership. This course was like many, a little apprehensive at the start, not sure if it was all just management speak and Japanese words but on the last day, they were full of energy and ideas and keen to get back into their workplaces to put them into action. My take on Lean is that there isn't really anything new in there but it just gives people a different way to view problems and processes and a framework to go about solving them. My role is to make sure they are supported as they do this, because most people are at least a bit suspicious of new ideas and change and of course one of the main ideas is that we want our people to 'challenge everything' and not be restricted by rank-based thoughts of who has the best ideas. I really enjoy the outbrief because I usually get asked difficult questions, frequently have to justify decisions and there are usually at least 2 or 3 'please help – I'm trying to do….' And this course was no exception.

Suzi Mitchell receiving congratulations in the ATC tower at RAF Lossiemouth

Finally on the highlights list was the chance to go to Air Traffic Control and congratulate Flt Lt Suzi Mitchell as she has just been awarded the Babcock prize, essentially the Air Traffic Management prize for being the best Air Traffic Controller in the RAF! Suzi is no stranger to success, having recently been awarded a place on the Chief of the Air Staff's Fellowship scheme. She will spend most of the rest of the year in Afghanistan and will be studying and writing whilst deployed so the very best of luck to her!

Of course the week included one or 2 meetings and the usual paperwork, but these were some of the most enjoyable bits


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