Embrace the word ‘Yes’

  • Published
  • By Maj. Brant Folken
  • 92nd Force Support Squadron commander
A few weeks ago I was at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., for a Force Support Squadron Commander conference. As part of the conference we toured an off base hotel and restaurant to learn about how an organization similar to the FSS operates. As we were walking through the service hallways, everywhere I looked I saw signs like "Love the Yes" and "It's all about the Yes." I asked the manager about the signs and he said that his organization was trying to foster a "yes" attitude. 

At first I thought that saying yes was just common sense. However, after thinking about it a little bit more, that kind of common sense isn't so common. In the customer service business, it is so much easier to say "no" if what the customer is asking is not immediately within your power to do or what they are asking isn't in the Air Force Instruction. By taking the "no" shortcut you are leaving a negative impression of you, your organization, and Fairchild. 

If you have a yes attitude, you take an extra moment to do everything you can to help your customer. Sometimes, you really can't give them exactly what they want. What you can do is give them an alternative that gives the same end result. Sometimes, Air Force Instructions can be interpreted two ways. With a little effort and ingenuity, it may be possible to interpret an AFI or create a workable solution within the constraints of the AFI in a way that allows you to say yes to a customer. Of course, having a yes attitude does not mean you can do anything illegal. Having a yes attitude means questioning the person who says "We have always done it that way." 

Even if your job is not remotely in the same area as what the person is asking you can still be helpful. You can find out where they need to go then make sure they get there. And I am not talking about telling them the organization. If you have a yes attitude you will make sure they know where to go and even call the person to make sure they are who your customer needs to talk to. 

These simple steps will only take you a few extra seconds but will make a much more positive impression on the customer you tried to help. Remember, just because they are in the wrong area does not mean you can't help them. If a person is talking to you, asking you for help, then they are your customer and you should do your best to do what you can for them. 

In today's Air Force it is easy to come up with excuses to not have a yes attitude. I have heard them all, shrinking budgets, shrinking manpower, people being asked to do more with less. I could go on and on. The important thing to remember is it only takes a small amount of time to be helpful and if you do, it will probably save you hassle in the long run because the issue will be solved immediately. 

When you embrace the word yes, you also embrace the Air Force Core Value of Excellence in All We Do. If your immediate response to something is "no" then you are taking a shortcut and will leave a lasting negative impression. So, next time you are asked something, which word will you embrace?