What if it were me? – A command philosophy
By Lt. Col. Joseph Hale, 354th Medical Support Squadron commander
/ Published April 20, 2012
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Most of us are familiar with the Golden Rule that encourages individuals to treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. This ethic of reciprocity, one of four pillars upon which my command philosophy is based, inherently fosters our core values of service before self and excellence in all we do.
I believe that we all too often get caught up with the rigors of the daily grind in our work centers and errantly presume that our customers know as much about our tactics, techniques and procedures as we do, a presumption that then causes gaps in the level of service that we believe was provided and the level of service perceived by our patient or customer. I subsequently provide two scenarios which depict how my adaptation of the Golden Rule, if personalized to your life, can lead to both better customer service and enhanced leadership.
My version of the Golden Rule concept promotes my team members to ask, "what if it were me?" when confronting patients who require health service support from the 354th Medical Group. I walk every new member of the medical support squadron through various scenarios that serve to indoctrinate medics into a culture of exemplary patient and customer service.
For example, what if I was a first term Airman that walked into the Eielson clinic for the first time looking for immunizations - would I want a clinic staff member to verbally explain how to get to immunizations via several left-right turns, or would I prefer the staff member take 30 seconds of their time and physically walk me to immunizations? Most individuals would garner the greatest sense of satisfaction from the latter course of action.
Whether my team members work in patient administration, resource management, information systems, diagnostic and therapeutic services, personnel and administration, or medical logistics, I continuously challenge them with "what if it were me?" scenarios with the goal of providing the Iceman Team the best medical support possible.
I strongly believe the "what if it were me?" philosophy should be personalized not only with our patients and customers, but also with our Airmen - our most valuable weapon system.
As a prior-enlisted medical administration technician, I often felt leadership took allegations of misconduct and adopted a "guilty until proven innocent" mentality. I personally embrace the "what if it were me?" value and strive to obtain objective, validated data in an expedient fashion before levying discipline. When imposing punishment, I believe it is important to explain to the recipient why I took the respective action because that is what I would like if I were in the other person's shoes. Additionally, I maintain an open door to anyone in my squadron who is frustrated or concerned over the action I took, particularly when anxiety exists over perceived inconsistencies between the ramifications someone else in the squadron received from similar-looking misconduct.
I am confident my team members in the medical support squadron get tired of hearing my "what if it were me?" anecdotes; however, this past Monday I saw my newest member of the squadron walking a beneficiary to the immunization clinic. My repetition of this core component of my command philosophy, while occasionally getting the rolling of eyes, is rubbing off on folks and taking root in daily activities.
I encourage the Iceman Team to contemplate the question of "what if it were me?" the next time they interact with either someone seeking customer service from your organization or dealing with a personnel issue within your work center - I am confident that doing so will promote our core values of Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do!