Monday, October 20, 2014

Admitting there is a problem

First, I've got a new blog for the blog roll: The Greenie Board.

I got sucked in by his article called Perception? It's Reality. Apparently CNP is visiting Rhode Island to discuss the findings from the Navy Retention Survey, and input is being collated for him to comment on. One of the first comments sent in nails the problem on the head:

 “The first step is to admit there is a problem - it's not a perceived lack of trust - it's an actual lack of trust. It's not a marketing problem - it's an operations problem.  To say it's a perception problem makes the problem about the subordinates, rather than the Flag Officers / "senior leaders" who need to be looking introspectively at both their decision-making process and decisions and how both may contribute to the actual lack of trust.”

Hit the nail on the head. For anyone who has run a watch team, you know that your team often thinks it is the best team out there, hands down. Maybe they are right (most of the time they are not). While it's good to be confident, the problem with that attitude is that it breeds a sense that the problem isn't with ME, it's with something else.

Some of the hardest conversations I've had are with Sailors who think they are doing well, when really they are struggling. As the Air Shop DIVO, I had one Sailor come in who had already failed the primary school for his billet. We took him anyway (mistake on our part) because we were desperate for bodies. I talked to him when he arrived and told him I'd give him a chance to bounce back by sending him to an equipment school with some other Sailors.

So four Sailors went to an equipment school. Two weeks later, one Sailor came back having can probably guess which one.

I was irate. How DARE someone take my TDY money and not succeed at the mission! My Chief at the time tried to talk me into just sending him out to fly. I would have none of it. I processed the paperwork to transfer him to another UIC and told Chief to talk to him.

A funny thing happened...being fired actually made it sink in with the Sailor. Chief looked back at his performance.  He hadn't performed well anywhere, but nobody had ever taken the time to explain that he was not doing well. This was the first time someone had said something, and he took it to heart and worked hard at his next job.

How does this relate to retention? Before CNP or anyone else can solve a problem, they have to accept there is a problem.

- The Navy won't admit that lumping all URLs into a common category is bad and results in not enough submarine and surface officers and too many aviators selection for O-4.

The URL is composed of the Surface Warfare, Submarine, EOD, SEAL and Aviation Communities in a single competitive category for promotions. All the URL communities have and maintain shortages to billet requirements in the control grades (LCDR, CDR and CAPT) with the prominent exception of the Aviation community. The Aviation community has carried a surplus of control grade officers to the detriment of all the other communities. 

- Somehow the Navy accepted the N2/N6 (VADM Branch) could have his clearance suspended for a year, but still do his job.

Let’s think about this for a second or two.  The Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance and Director of Naval Intelligence had his clearance suspended last November.  According to this article, as of August 2014 it remained suspended.  For over a year his Deputy Director for Naval Intelligence (SES civilian) handled day-to-day duties that involved classified material.  What O-5 commander would have been afforded the same arrangement?

I could add another twenty items to this list.  There are issues, and CNP should attack the issues, not the people complaining.  I can respect someone that says "Yes, I know there is a problem, and I'll fix it."  I struggle to respect those that try to weasel their way out of admitting there is a problem.

Read the whole article. My hope is that CNP gets the message that there IS a problem and that they actually address it.