“Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Nick Plante
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs chief
Phone call: "Hi I need my photo taken for a biography; it's due tomorrow."

Have you ever received a task asking for your immediate attention?

Most of us have had experiences with last minute requests. Some are entangled in situations that couldn't be avoided, but a majority of them could have.

I'd like to focus your attention on the tasks that didn't have to be last minute. Like a former supervisor once told me, "Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."

His remark served as a lesson. This taught me, no matter what task I'm working, more than likely it isn't more important than any other task just because I failed to properly plan.

We all have many of important tasks to accomplish. We all live and work in high pace environments requiring many different skills and abilities. Planning is one of those important skills that we often over looked.

Negative effects from poor planning hamper the mission by hastily taking the focus away from other important tasks. Constantly reacting to others inability or laziness in planning decreases unit efficiency and breaks down unit morale.

Let it be clear, I'm not saying every task requires detailed planning, and I know there are situations when planning can be skipped due to reactive circumstances like war or emergencies. However, I believe flexibility and adaptability strengthen individuals and organizations. But, what I am saying is planning can't be skipped because someone is too busy, scared or lazy.

In an atmosphere of compliance everyone is responsible and accountable, and planning must be a part of an organization's or an individual's make-up. Planning can turn a disaster into a success and boost morale.

To help explain, I've picked a few examples from my own experiences to highlight the importance of planning.

Administrative paperwork including: evaluations, decorations, assignment notifications etc. weigh heavily on an individual's career. Late or inaccurate evaluations or other administrative paperwork could negatively affect the promotion, job opportunities and morale of an individual. If supervisors, subordinates, superintendents and commanders are not involved in the planning process, negative timeliness trends will be the norm and low morale and missed opportunities will be the result.

But, an active approach with planning can make the difference. If supervisors and subordinates sit down and plan when feedbacks and evaluations are due and superintendents and commanders hold people accountable when they're late, goals will be met and morale will increase.

Much of what we do requires personal responsibility (some items are more obvious than others), and we must take responsibility and plan task accomplishment.

In my experience some people fail to plan for reoccurring tasks like physical fitness tests, preventive health assessments, immunizations, filing travel vouchers and making appointments. I've seen individuals who put themselves in a last minute panic which could have been avoided if they were proactive and planned how they were going to accomplish their tasks.

They normally ask for an exception which usually means pulling someone from their current task to accommodate them. The unplanned interruption decreases efficiency and when done respectively and becomes cyclical, it hampers the mission.

Planning out our personal responsibilities can easily solve the extra stress brought on by waiting until the last minute. We all know when our PT tests are due (or we can easily find out via the Air Force Portal) so we should be planning to test a couple of months or even six months in advance.

Sure it takes effort, but it's worth every second because it eases our stress.

Supervisors have to be supervisors and help subordinates plan. This means supervisors spending time and communicating a plan with their subordinates. It means taking time to explain processes, but it will be time well spent and will save multiple hours of stress compared to the time we would waste not planning.

We all have an idea of what an immediate situation requiring a last-minute reaction would be. Maybe it would be a contingency or humanitarian operation, but it most likely would not be making an official photo appointment, completing an evaluation for someone that has been here for a year or support for an event, visit or inspection that has been in the works for months.

We all have a full calendar but planning that calendar can help efficiently and effectively complete every item on it and help mission accomplishment. It's what our country expects us to do.