Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Do something special for your promotion

USS Missouri, from Wikipedia
There is a terrible trend going on concerning officer promotions.  More and more I see people simply putting on a new rank with no ceremony or recognition to speak of.  It's a bad idea all around and needs to stop.

I get a variety of arguments about why people simply "pin on and move on."  I'd like to debunk them all below.

"All I did was have a pulse for two years" (common argument for LTJG and LT)

Well, that's good, we certainly don't want to promote zombies!

 First, you met the Navy's minimum requirements, meaning you passed your PRTs, didn't get NJP and showed up ready to work and got qualified.  Between O-1 and O-3 the Navy expects you to do a lot of learning.  That's why you're a "P" during that time, because it encourages you to focus on your qualifications without having to compete with others.  Your CO can tell the board to withhold your promotion by marking you below "Promotable," so assuming he doesn't that means he's happy with your progress.

Considering how many qualifications you achieve and assuming you are learning on the very sharp curve that the Navy has, why shouldn't you be promoted?  In industry you follow a similar path: your first years are spent learning, then you are expected to work independently, then you're expected to lead more and more people.

Also, don't sell yourself short.  Look at the thickness of a qual book sometime.  Most are quite extensive.  Plus, think of all the things you had to learn that aren't in the book.  That's a lot of knowledge on top of a bachelor's degree.

"It's pretentious."


First, most promotion ceremonies are 15-20 minutes.  That is HARDLY pretentious.  People waste more time on Facebook, Google, BSing in the passageway, or mindlessly clicking through GMT.  A simple promotion ceremony takes less time than any of those.

Second, the Navy thought it was important enough to make you wear a new rank.  Are you, with your 4 years of experience in the Navy, so smart that you have the background to challenge this?

Lastly, the Navy makes a big deal about enlisted promotions (heaven help you if you miss a Chief's Pinning ceremony!) and RIGHTFULLY SO, because working in the Navy is very often hard.  As a department head, I always held promotion ceremonies, even if they were the push-button variety (where a Sailor makes E-3 or E-4 because they graduated from school).  In most cases, it was done during department quarters and took no more than 15 minutes per 7-8 Sailors promoted, which included the photographer snapping their photo.  I know for a fact some of those photos went to parents with a "Look at me mom!" email.  It's important for Sailors to see that on the officer side as well.

"I'm just not into ceremonies."

Get over yourself, it's not about you.

Yup, the promotion is not about you, at all.  You just happen to be there.  Promotion ceremonies do let you thank all the Sailors that helped you get there, thank your family for sticking with you, and thanking your boss for guiding you.

It gives you a chance to let someone pin you.  That's important.  Want to recognize someone that really helped you along the way?  Let them pin on your rank.  My kids pinned my LCDR bars onboard the USS Missouri.  It was a great way to incorporate my family with work.  It gave me a platform to thank everyone that had helped me, and a chance to connect for a little bit with one of the CAPTs in my community.  And it only took 30 minutes.

In short, have a simple promotion ceremony.  Make it work for you.  Thank everyone that has helped you along the way.  Buy a round of appetizers afterwards.  And above all, be proud of the rank you're wearing.  If you don't feel you can live up to it, then use that to drive you to work harder every day.