For better or for worse…?
I often ask people for ideas for blog posts, for two reasons, firstly I often wonder WHAT to write and secondly to make sure I am writing what people want to read about.
Either way, when I do ask for ideas a common theme amongst the ones that come in are to do with change. How has the RAF changed since I joined in 1987? How has training changed since I went through training? How has life on the station changed in the 22 years?
It’s funny isn’t it. Things change. The RAF has changed, simply because the world that it lives in has changed. The role it has to play has changed due to the changes in world politics and leaders.
Training has changed from providing a deep level of knowledge that – to be honest I would never really need in my actual job – to providing the information and skills that young members of the RAF will need to have to do their jobs as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Life on station has changed because of the world that we live in again. The social and demographic changes that have occurred in the civilian world have been seen and felt in the military world – simply because the people that come to the RAF themselves come from the civilian world.
And it’s odd that I have been reticent to write about those changes on this blog – particularly given my job, which is essentially all about change.
Whilst some people’s jobs in the RAF are all about delivering air power directly -flying aircraft, fixing aircraft or equipment, or administering the people who do those jobs, my job is another level more detached.
Mine is about helping people change in their jobs. Reviewing procedures, looking at improving workplaces, freeing up people to be able to do more – to be able to get down the gym more, to get off to do some education, to go away on expeds – the sort of things that adds value to our lives in the RAF.
But despite the benefits that me doing my job can bring it can be frustrating, and difficult. People are resistant to change for many reasons, not least of them being that some people like things to stay the same! They know what they like and they like what they know.
But this isn’t to say that my job isn’t interesting. It is – I’ve learnt more in the last 18 months about how an RAF station works than I had ever done before. I’ve learnt more about how other people do their jobs and more importantly about what some trades actually do too! I mean, I had no idea what the Flight Ops people on station did until we did some work with them last year. I had an idea what went into making a flying squadron work from working on one in the past, but having worked with the flying squadrons here I now have a much deeper understanding of how a support helicopter actually puts aircraft, firstly in the sky, and secondly into theatre.
And some of the changes we have helped introduce here have, hopefully, made a big difference. We helped re-organise the engineers flight structure so their personnel had a better idea of when they were going to be deployed in the future and what the plan for their next few months would be – hopefully easing a bit of stress, allowing them to be able to organise their lives and take some pressure of their families by giving them a clue of what might be coming up.
It’s not punchy, it’s not exciting, but it makes a difference. It makes peoples lives better. It solves problems that the people on the front line don’t need distracting them from their job of putting aircraft in the sky, in whatever way they do it.
Change is fundamentally important to us. We see dramatic revolutions and we notice subtle slow evolutions. Yes the RAF has changed in the last 20 years. But it’s had to. We couldn’t stay the same if the world around us has changed. People in the RAF have changed, jobs have changed, life in general has changed.
Some changes have been for the good of all; for instance I think that Welfare provision has dramatically improved over the years, as has understanding about work/life balance (although I have never seen the difference between work and life – surely work is part of life?). Attitudes to fitness have changed for the better, but then some people are more detached from the service life than they used to be. Stations are quieter at the weekends and evenings now as more people live away from camp – myself included.
Have these changes been for the better? Have some of them been for the worse? Actually, it’s impossible to answer that question. It’s not better or worse than it was when I joined. Just different.