Motivation through sense of purpose

  • Published
  • By Col. Terrance Kinyon
  • 18th Dental Squadron commander
Our mission to ensure air superiority is clear, but not everyone sees how they fit into the process. It is up to every Air Force leader, anyone who is a supervisor, to ensure people working in their unit understand the role they play in accomplishing the larger mission. 

Everyone needs to know how their job is important in fulfilling the unit's mission and how that mission is related to the 18th Wing mission. That knowledge can help give an individual purpose in their job and life, a motive for doing their best. 

I tell those in my dental unit that the mission of the Air Force is to "Fly, Fight and Bite." I tell them this because dentistry may seem unrelated to ensuring air superiority, more a fringe benefit than a wartime mission. But when they realize an experienced pilot with a toothache is like an F-15 with flat tires, they begin to see the light. Both are extremely valuable limited resources capable of maintaining air superiority but not mission ready in their current condition. 

Preventive maintenance is the best way to keep either condition from happening. Thus we have periodic dental exams to find dental problems before they become show stoppers. We put the bite in the fight by keeping the 18th Wing dentally worldwide qualified. During the last quarter our mission capable rate for all personnel was 98.7 percent. 

Knowing that others depend on us to get our job done right, and the consequences of failure can have tremendous adverse impact on the mission, should be a sobering thought that motivates us to do our best in training, working, and taking care of our most important resource, our people. 

Our goal should be to help our Airmen find the right motivation. Motivation is defined by Webster's dictionary as to provide an incentive or motive. A motive is defined as an impulse, an emotion, desire, or physiological need, acting as incitement to action. 

Studies show that the number one motivator of employees who are not management is appreciation for a job well done. For every Air Force leader, appreciation should be part of our job description. Taking time to informally recognize individuals at work among peers is very effective. The number two motivator is to feel included. 

Communication keeps everyone informed about upcoming unit and community events, exercises, inspections, deployments, and major issues impacting the unit. It also helps each individual feel they are part of the process and have an ownership stake in the outcome by their performance. 

The Global War on Terror has given us a focus and mission that should motivate each and every Airman to do their best. Each Airman plays a vital role in the accomplishment of our mission. Deployments take manpower out of units, increasing the stress on those left behind. 

Despite this increased workload, the overall morale and motivation of Airmen has remained high. We must mentor developing leaders to ensure they learn to maintain the high motivation of our Airmen and civilian workers.