By Scott Prater
Sooner or later, every supervisor is faced with an uncomfortable workplace situation.
For example, take a scenario where a subordinate practices poor hygiene. It usually doesn’t take coworkers long to notice, and once they do, they take their complaints to the nearest leader. So how should a supervisor handle the situation? With a blunt statement such as, “You stink — clean up your act,” or by simply choosing to ignore the situation and hoping it works itself out?
“I think that’s how many supervisors would react,” said Master Sgt. Cassandra Bushyeager, 50th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. “They’ll question whether it’s their job to inform the Airman , and ask themselves why they should get involved. Well, they should get involved because it’s the right thing to do.”
Sergeant Bushyeager addresses issues such as this in a new seminar launched during September called “You Stink,” the seminar earned its name from the scenario mentioned above, but it covers many other areas that create dilemmas for supervisors.
“I received the curriculum from an AF career assistant advisor at Columbus Air Force Base,” she said. “We often share curricula with other advisors when we find a good class. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”
“You stink” will be offered occasionally at Schriever and is open to anyone wishing to learn and gain experience in handling uncomfortable situations tactfully. Sergeant Bushyeager presents the material in an interactive setting, where attendees role-play through typical scenarios.
“The point behind this seminar is to teach people tools on how to deal with counseling issues that are uncomfortable,” Sergeant Bushyeager said. “For instance, if you have to tell someone they stink, or that they don’t look good in their uniform, or they’re obviously overweight. Handling these situations can be tough because you don’t want to embarrass someone, or hurt their feelings, but the situation still needs to be rectified.”
Sergeant Bushyeager begins the seminar by talking about the importance of the supervisory role, even when it comes to facing uncomfortable situations. Then she offers multiple scenarios for attendees to consider. The class can be humorous at times, while invoking cringes from the audience at others.
Staff Sergeant Edwin Monzon, 3rd Space Operations Squadron, attended the September “You Stink” seminar because he speaks to, and deals with young Airmen on a regular basis.
“This seminar gives you an idea on how you might react given an uncomfortable situation, and it allows you to watch how other supervisors might handle those same situations. Personally, I liked the way Tech. Sgt. D’Ontay Roy dealt with a few of the scenarios. I learned a lot from him.”
In the poor-personal hygiene scenario, Sergeant Roy, 50 FSS, took a direct approach.
“I asked the individual if he was showering regularly,” Sergeant Roy said. “He responded by saying he didn’t have enough time to shower every day. So I explained that I understood we live in very rushed times, but by not showering he was creating a health hazard for himself. And, he wasn’t doing himself or the Air Force any favors by getting sick.”
Basically, Sergeant Roy handled the scenario tactfully and relied on the Airman’s sense of duty to invoke the desired response.
“What I thought was great about this class was it provided multiple perspectives on how to handle different situations,” Sergeant Roy said. “Your way is not always the right way. This gives you an opportunity to look at a situation from another person’s angle, hear other ideas and learn new ways to deal with people.”
Sergeant Bushyeager offers the seminar as professional development. Anyone interested should plan to attend the next “You Stink” seminar, which takes place from 8 to 10 a.m. Oct. 27 in Building 210, room 310.