By Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 05, 2012
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, KY. -- The survey results are in, and participants overwhelmingly agree: The 123rd Airlift Wing has a positive climate largely free of negative factors that impact unit cohesion and job satisfaction.
According to the wing's Air Force Equal Opportunity Climate Assessment Survey, conducted by the base Equal Opportunity Office in August and September, nearly 90 percent of respondents reported a "favorable" climate in the areas of perceived discrimination, cohesion and pride, and equal opportunity.
The wing earned somewhat lower ratings -- in the mid-70 percent range -- for motivation, morale and supervisory support, indicating areas for improvement, said Col. Greg Nelson, wing commander.
"I'm pleased to report that the results of this survey are overwhelmingly positive," Nelson said. "That tells me we're doing a lot of things right despite the high operation tempo of the past 10 years. But it also tells me we have room for improvement in a few key areas."
Two of those areas are communication and the relationship between full-time employees and traditional Guardsmen, survey results show.
"Communication has always been a challenge for the military because of the operational security constraints we face, but the wing is going to announce a number of initiatives this year to address some of those concerns and improve our ability to communicate seamlessly with both the full-time and traditional force.
"We're also looking at things we can do to enhance the interoperability of our full-timers and our drilling reservists, who are the heart and soul of the Kentucky Air Guard. We cannot accomplish our mission without our traditional Guardsmen, and our full-time force needs to ensure we do everything we can to support them.
"2012 is going to be 'The Year of Improvement,' and you'll see everyone across the wing working to enhance, improve and streamline our processes and working relationships.
"I want to thank every Airman who participated in this survey for helping leadership better understand the areas we need to focus on to improve our human relations climate," Nelson added. "People are our number-one asset, and our Airmen should have the best possible working environment in order to grow and support our mission."
Unit climate assessments are used to assist commanders in assessing the positive and negative factors of the human relations climate in their organizations, according to Maj. Latonia Trowell, wing equal opportunity officer. The EO office is required to conduct surveys every four years, within six months of assignment of a new commander or upon request.
The latest survey drew anonymous responses from 413 Airmen, which represents 38.6 percent of wing personnel. That's a large enough sample size to be statistically relevant, Trowell said. Moreover, the participants' demographic breakdown is a "mirror image" of the wing's percentage of assigned men, women, races and ethnicities, Nelson said.
The wing earned its highest mark -- 89.9 percent favorable -- in the area of "cohesion and pride," which covers such factors as whether Airmen like their jobs, feel valued and comfortable in the work environment, and have pride in their duty section.
The next highest score -- 89.8 percent favorable -- was in the area of "perceived discrimination," followed closely by a score of 89.5 percent favorable in the category of "command equal opportunity/equal employment opportunity policy" and 86.9 percent favorable in the category of "overt discriminatory behaviors."
The two lowest scores were in "supervisory support" (78.4 percent favorable) and "motivation and morale" (75.6 percent favorable). Supervisory support includes such factors as whether Airmen have open communication with their supervisors, performance feedback is offered in a timely fashion and on-the-job mentoring is provided to junior troops. Motivation and morale touches on such topics as recognition for good work, the fair administration of discipline and the absence of favoritism in the workplace.
Nelson noted that the wing's ratings exceeded the average scores of both the Air Mobility Command and the U.S. Air Force in all six categories of evaluation, and they substantially exceeded them in three of the six areas.
The wing's group commanders all said they were pleased with the feedback provided by the survey.
"The results showed that, despite a very high operation tempo, our members take pride in their wing, enjoy their jobs and are very motivated," said Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123rd Operations Group. "While there are certainly areas we will work to improve, the overall results were very positive. I feel blessed to be part of such a great organization."
Col. Jeff Peters, commander of the 123rd Mission Support Group, said the survey "indicated that over 90 percent of our folks enjoy their jobs."
"This is a great number and an amazing result when provided in the context of the numerous deployments and inspections we have supported in the past 10 years," he added. "However, we have some work to do in specific areas, and I will be working with my squadron commanders within the Mission Support Group to develop action plans to address the concerns from the assessment."
Col. Warren Hurst, commander of the 123rd Contingency Response Group, called the survey "an excellent additional tool to help measure the health of our organization" and said the feedback will help guide future initiatives.
"Our goal is to use the climate assessment to address concerns and strive for continuous improvement," he noted.
Col. Ken Dale, commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, echoed those sentiments.
"The survey provided group commanders with a way to take the pulse of our units and identify areas for improvement," he said. "We're not perfect, but we should always strive for perfection. The climate survey will get us closer to that goal."
Col. Steve Bullard, the wing's vice commander and acting commander of the 123rd Medical Group, said he was "pleased to see the pride -- both in ourselves and in our individual units -- that was so clearly demonstrated in our climate assessment."
"I was most pleased with our overwhelmingly positive response to knowing how to care for our wingmen who need assistance and our understanding of our military mission," he continued. "We pledge to take our feedback constructively and use it to improve on communication, supervisory support, mentoring and all the highlighted areas to make our Kentucky Air National Guard the best possible working environment for all of us."
The way forward is clear, Nelson said.
"Overall, I believe we are on the right track," he said. "I wish we were doing everything perfectly, but I'm glad our Airmen used the climate survey to candidly identify areas for attention. We will use our year of improvement in 2012 to move the 123rd Airlift Wing one step closer to perfection."