By Heather Wilburn, Fleet Readiness Center East
CHERRY POINT — Eric Jackson doesn’t consider mentoring a collateral duty. To him, it’s something he does every day for all the people who work with him. He just calls it leading by example.
It’s also something at which he excels, and his commitment to developing the skills and capabilities of his team earned Mr. Jackson the title of Fleet Readiness Center East Mentor of the Year. Naval Air Systems Command leadership recognized Mr. Jackson and other NAVAIR mentors of the year during a virtual celebration of National Mentoring Month held Jan. 26.
Mr. Jackson, the maintenance logistics lead with the H-1 Fleet Support Team at NAVAIR’s In-Service Support Center at FRC East, said he doesn’t have any formal mentoring relationships. His people-first style extends to everyone in his orbit, and yields positive results for the individuals and organization.
“It’s just the way I lead,” he said. “I call it taking care of your people, and I believe if you take care of your people, they will take care of the work. When they’re happy, they do what they know needs to be done.”
According to Mr. Jackson, the key to taking care of people is ensuring they know three things: what’s going on in the organization, what they need to do to be successful and whether or not they’re a good fit for the organization.
“Those things add up to provide a better employee for the organization, and help both the individual and organization achieve their goals,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
This focus on learning makes Mr. Jackson’s mentorship especially empowering for those he works with, said Mr. Jackson’s supervisor Mike Durbin, the H-1 FST logistics lead.
“Eric provides empowerment but does not abandon people; he gives direction but does not direct how an action is to be done,” Mr. Durbin explained. “That said, he is there for them when they need guidance or assistance. He enables people to learn on their own and make decisions, yet he is always there to provide encouragement and support.”
Mr. Jackson provides encouragement and support in an approachable manner, which makes it easy for more junior team members to speak to him, said Allison Hinnant, a logistics management specialist with the H-1 FST.
“The more time you spend with Eric, the more comfortable you get with him. Almost right off the bat, he puts you at ease,” Ms. Hinnant said. “I’ve never seen him get flustered, or overly excited; he just handles everything as it comes and that puts you at ease, as well, knowing that maybe you made a mistake but there are ways that you can correct it, and learn from it and move forward.”
Mr. Jackson is armed with answers to questions, or can provide the resources to find them, thanks to his long and distinguished career. He spent 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and almost 10 years as a contractor before moving into civil service 20 years ago.
“Eric’s technical and professional experience spans decades, including his military time,” Mr. Durbin said. “He shares his sage wisdom that can only be learned over time and through experience with his people, and they are able to leverage, retain and use it much earlier in their careers. His dedication and professionalism in his service and his relationship with others, both senior and junior, are recognized and commendable.”