PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Finding the solutions for things like suicide prevention, boosting camaraderie and retention can be a difficult task, but approximately 100 people in leadership from Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases in Colorado decided to find a different way to help by learning how to make genuine connections.
Michael Stallard was the guest speaker during a Connection Culture workshop on Peterson AFB, Sept. 10, 2019 and he stressed the importance of strengthening work relationships in regards to leadership.
“Disconnection is a stressor that diminishes our performance and our happiness and harms our ability to accomplish the mission,” said Stallard. “Connection happens when leaders communicate a meaningful and inspiring mission, when they value the lowest of the chain as human beings, give them a voice and don’t treat them like a means to an end.”
While resiliency training focuses on teaching Airmen mindfulness, gratitude and growing through stressors, connection culture focuses on equipping one with the tools to build relationships within a unit so Airmen can feel connected and a part of something bigger.
“When you feel like someone has your back and you are connected to them, you are able to move though stressors better and grow in the face of challenges,” said Michel Crimeans, 21st Space Wing violence prevention integrator and organizer of the workshop
He also said that when a person doesn’t feel a sense of connection, not only are things like work productivity at risk, but mental health is as well.
Jess Schroeder, 21st Space Wing community support coordinator, said she hoped that the attendees of the workshop understood that concept.
“We also wanted attendants to really understand the necessity of meeting those universal human needs of respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth, and meaning,” said Schroeder. “Often times when those needs are not met, it leads to disconnect, which is a contributing factor to suicide.”
The workshop was intended for those in leadership positions, but Stallard said the message is for everyone.
“The individuals in leadership really are tasked with the responsibility of creating a culture of connection, but Airmen have the responsibility of responding to it,” said Stallard. “You need everyone to try if you want to strengthen a culture.”