MCPON 7th Fleet Trip Report: Sailors doing phenomenal work in Indo-Pacific

By Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven S. Giordano

Shipmates,

I recently returned from an 18-day trip visiting with Sailors serving in Guam, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Diego Garcia and Australia. First, let me say I have a deep appreciation for all those serving in this incredibly complex and dynamic area of operation. My first duty assignment was Guam, where I spent the first years of my career serving as part of this respected forward deployed naval force.

On this trip, it didn’t take long to see the phenomenal impact our Sailors continue to have in the region. I had the pleasure of meeting with Sailors from many amazing organizations, working hard every day in a demanding operational environment – I’m extremely proud.

7th Fleet is a fleet on the move that’s generating readiness in meeting our nation’s interests. It will continue to do so with the hard work of all our shipmates who serve there. If it matters anywhere, it matters there.

Sailors assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40), take a selfie with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Steven S. Giordano on the ship’s quarterdeck while moored in Guam.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Heather C. Wamsley/Released)

 

We’re a continuously learning organization, and these trips enable me to learn about the challenges Sailors are facing in the operational environment and churn that feedback into actions that will make us stronger as a Navy.

To that end, this trip was immensely valuable for me to hear about how I may be able to assist, and what I need to push forward to further strengthen our Navy’s capabilities – whether that be improving quality of life, or eliminating distractions that will better enable Sailors everywhere to carry out the mission.

Additionally, in South Korea and Singapore, I had the amazing honor to meet with my counterparts in the Republic of Korea Navy and the Republic of Singapore Navy, along with other leadership. It’s always advantageous to sit down with counterparts from other nations and talk about shared experiences and learn from each other. Through those interactions, it’s very clear to me that 7th Fleet is part of the fabric of the Indo-Pacific. I’m not only impressed with the work our Sailors are doing to meet the demands of the mission, but with how our Sailors and families contribute to the greater community as ambassadors for our nation.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), Steven S. Giordano, poses for a group photo with Republic of Korea Navy MCPON Ahn, Kwang-Ho at Commander, Republic of Korea Fleet headquarters. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Carlisle/Released)

 

Through various all-hands calls and one-on-one interactions with hundreds of Sailors, I not only received plenty of valuable input, but I was able to answer many questions concerning current policies and the way forward for our Navy.

Here are some the common topics discussed, along with resources for further information.

Sailor 2025

This is the Navy’s program focused on improving and modernizing personnel management and training systems to support better recruiting, retention and professional and personal development for the current and future force. Sailor 2025 is about empowering Sailors, updating policies, processes and operating systems, and providing the right training at the right time using state of the art, cutting–edge technology.

There are three pillars to Sailor 2025: Personnel System Modernization (PSM), Ready, Relevant Learning (RRL) and Career Readiness (CR).

PSM is aimed at being transparent, flexible and providing more choices when it comes to a Sailor’s career. This means modernized policies and retention tools that give Sailors more control and ownership over their careers. Current initiatives include Fleet Scholar Education Program, Meritorious Advancement Program and Tours with Industry. Future initiatives involve revamping the pay and personnel systems, rating modernization, improved enlisted advancement exam process, new performance evaluations, active to reserve component transferability and a new “Detailing Marketplace” that allows Sailors to negotiate job assignments directly with gaining commands.

RRL means providing the right training at the right time in the right way. The Navy is developing a career long training continuum that will deliver training that is a mix of classroom and modern technology, such as virtual trainers, so Sailors can learn faster and retain more at multiple points throughout their Navy career. It also means employing mobile trainers to be used at the waterfront or remote training, operating areas, as well as leveraging cloud-hosted training content that can be updated to stay in lock-step with rapid technological changes in the Fleet.

A Sailor checks coordinates on a computer in the bridge of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) during a replenishment-at-sea.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alexandra Seeley/Released)

 

CR is about enhancing Sailors’ career readiness by better developing our leaders, building teams that reflect the nation, and eliminating obstacles the negatively influence a Sailor’s decision to stay Navy when making significant life choices, such as starting or raising a family.   Current CR initiatives include Career Intermission Program, Leader Development Framework, establishing a Navy Civilian Workforce Framework, building inclusive teams that leverage Sailors’ diverse backgrounds, experiences and skills to enhance warfighting readiness and capacity, expanded Child Development Centers hours, increased maternity leave, changes to the dual-military/professional spouse and single parent policies to provide more stability and work-life balance, longer fitness center hours, updated PFA program and the deployment of resilience counselors to aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious ships.

If you’d like more information on Sailor 2025, check out the following resources:

Sailor 2025 Glossy

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/people/cnp/Burke/Resource/Sailor%202025%20Glossy%20(06%20Dec%2017).pdf

CNP Vice Adm. Robert Burke, Chief of Naval Personnel article, Growing to Win: Sailor 2025 – Navy’s Strategy for People in our Future Fleet

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/people/cnp/Burke/Resource/20180309-Sailor%202025%20Navy%20Venues%20Article%20LONG%20Version%20clean%20(9MAR%200930).pdf

Talent management website

http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/career/talentmanagement/Pages/default2.aspx

 

New Performance Evaluation System

As mentioned previously, the new performance evaluation system is one of our numerous Sailor 2025 initiatives. In October 2015, the Navy began conducting focus groups with Sailors to identify current system shortfalls and find out how to best to improve. It was discovered that Sailors were frustrated with the ranking structure, specifically when Sailors who were onboard the command longest were frequently ranked higher than those who may have outperformed them.

Following these focus groups, the Navy conducted brainstorming sessions to find out what current and the next generation of Sailors value in an evaluation methodology. Based on feedback from the focus groups, a few changes were made to the current performance evaluation system, and a prototype test was conducted in 2017. Here’s what was looked at:

  • A standards-based scale where individuals are compared against a performance standard for their rank instead of their peers. The Navy is correcting inequities caused by ‘forced distribution’- the EP/MP/P scale – by eliminating it and shifting to a nine-point scale instead of a five-point scale.
  • Ease of use and efficiency – completed on a smart phone in 6-8 minutes. To make this happen, the Navy is developing specific standards and skills in each warfare community, and calling them ‘competencies’. As Sailors rise in paygrade, they’ll be expected to gain, develop, and progress in the competencies of their community. These assessments will help guide coaching sessions. Competencies may also be used for administrative or milestone “screening” boards (such as Department Head or Executive Officer) by some officer communities.
  • A fast, easy and effective informal counseling tool that will help leaders and supervisors provide more meaningful counseling and done more frequently, based on Sailors indicating they want more frequent feedback about how they are performing. Navy is also looking at an online tool to track year-round coaching, offering Sailors and their leaders a running picture of what a Sailor has accomplished throughout the year. This will make the periodic evaluations easier because the supervisors will not have to rely entirely on memory at the end of the time period.
  • Using a smart-phone or web-based tool that would eliminate paper documentation and provide mobile access in the future.

The Navy has compared the results from the new system with the old, and is ready to conduct a third round of testing this year, involving roughly 10,000 Fleet Sailors. This version of the system will be much more representative of the final product. Once these tests are complete, the results will be reviewed to see what changes will stay and if additional changes need to made. The goal is to roll this system out in phases by 2019, starting with the counseling tool and then have the system fully operational in the 2020/2021 timeframe.

Sailors listen to a safety brief aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64), before a replenishment-at-sea with fleet replenishment oiler USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201) in the Aegean Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Turner/Released)

 

These are the highlights of our new performance evaluation system concept — one that we continue to test rigorously and will be ready to roll out in phases by 2019. Modernizing this system is just one way the Navy is using Sailor 2025 to bring personnel practices into the 21st Century.

Also, while in Guam, we launched “Laying the Keel – Developing the Backbone of Our Navy.” I hope all of you have had a chance to read it and have conversations about it with your command leaders and shipmates. I am tremendously pleased with the reception and feedback so far – It’s reaffirmed my confidence that this is the right way forward for our Navy, created by Sailors for Sailors. Here are a few things I want to emphasize about this new way forward.

  • The New Foundational Training courses; Naval Leadership & Ethics Center will train and certify a cadre of instructors designated to deliver these courses throughout the Navy. The existing Selectee Leadership Courses are dated, command delivered and are administered somewhat inconsistently throughout the fleet. The new series is integrated Foundational Training provided throughout the entire enlisted leader’s career. These courses focus heavily on: Character, Ethics, Leadership, the Profession of Arms, Self-Awareness, and Decision Making.
  • SAILOR 360 is owned by command leadership and will “Continue the Conversation” started in the formal Foundational Training courses. Sailor 360 is a more inclusive model to Enlisted Leadership Development and not solely focused on the development of First Class Petty Officers and Chief Petty Officers. This conversation must include every member of our team – officer and enlisted.
  • Elements of it are already starting to take effect. CPO 365 evolving to SAILOR 360 is immediate. Commands are encouraged to be innovative and creative to evolve their existing CPO 365 programs to SAILOR 360 immediately. Also, the new training modules for CPO Initiation will be made available for this year’s season, and the new Foundational Training courses are currently being piloted.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Steven S. Giordano answers a Sailor’s question during an all-hands call in the Island Room located on U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jackson Woods/Released)

 

Lastly, remember shipmates, our priority is warfighting. We need to win in everything we do, and we need to focus on that every day. Anything that doesn’t make sense, we need to take a hard look at it. I look forward to further feedback and future fleet engagement trips. To all those in 7th Fleet, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting… Thank you and keep up the good work, shipmates.

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