The importance of roll calls

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England (USAFENS) -- Roll Calls, why do we have them? Do we have roll calls because they are a formality? Do we have them because it has always been done that way? Do supervisors have roll calls to entrap subordinates reporting late?

Bill Cowher, coach of the Pittsburg Steelers, sat down and talked with his team before every practice, before every game and most of all before Super Bowl XL to develop a winning game plan.

Was that decisive victory over the Seahawks happenstance? No -- it was the culmination of a well executed strategy developed during team meetings. As we execute the daily mission of the most feared and respected Air Force in the world -- would we not do the same?

Roll calls are the foundation to open communication, high shop morale, accountability and the number one reason we are all here -- mission accomplishment. Over the course of my career, I have been assigned to a number of duty sections, some with high morale and open communication, and unfortunately, some with low morale and poor communication.

As I look back at the different duty sections, one common denominator that distinguished duty sections bound for the super bowl versus those bound to watch the game from the sidelines were effective roll calls.

An effective roll call starts each duty day off in the right direction by allowing Airmen, junior NCOs, and senior NCOs the opportunity to get in the huddle to formulate a game plan and a clear vision of what is expected of each team member.

Without an effective roll call, I have witnessed situations where Airman were not completely aware of their gameplan; unsure of what their section chief expected, leading to frustration and poor performance. I have also seen section chiefs become extremely frustrated when their Airmen fumbled the ball. Unless the coach clearly articulates the gameplan, Airmen will not execute the desired play.

Roll calls ensure Airman’s priorities match their section chief’s priorities, eliminating frustration, reducing the potential for poor performance and maximizing mission success.

When coaches express to their players that they care, it has a tremendous positive impact on morale. Before each shift, supervisors should look their subordinates eyes-to-eye, ask them how they are doing and inspect their dress and appearance to ensure their Airmen are ready mentally as well as physically to perform their duties.

Once roll call is complete, the effective supervisor knows his or her team is capable of executing any mission. Roll calls ensure our Airmen know their supervisors are concerned for their welfare and value their contributions to the mission. In addition, Airmen understand that they will be expected to execute their portion of the game plan.

Roll calls are an excellent accountability tool. How many times have quarterbacks looked downfield for a receiver only to discover that the receiver was not at the appointed place on the field? How many times do we waste government resources due to missed appointments? Where did we drop the ball?

I repeatedly hear we dropped the ball by relying on e-mail to schedule appointments. Roll calls are a great opportunity to remind each other about appointments and to adjust for those who will be out during the day.

Roll calls are not impersonal like e-mail. You can’t hit the delete key or get locked out. Roll calls enable supervisors to rotate players on and off the field so they can complete critical tasks. It also enables Airman to take care of business off the field. Daily roll calls are not only the foundation, but the cornerstone of mission accomplishment. Our Air Force is composed of many teams. Some of our special teams consist of only a few players, but they are all force multipliers in the accomplishment of our mission.

No matter how many players are assigned to your team, daily roll calls allow the effective supervisor to communicate his or her vision, bolster morale and schedule the day’s tasks. Unlike the super bowl, the Global War on Terrorism is played every day -- is your team ready?