The Navy's traditions live on in the hearts of those who serve

Friday, January 17, 2014

Praise in private, punish in public! Or is it the other way around?

My wife and I were reminiscing about my Navy days.  That is where my mind is most of the time now.  I remembered how often, as a Gunner's Mate and as a Command Master Chief, I was punished in public and praised in private.  Now, I hope most of us know that is the opposite way we should do things.  But the fact is, a good performer seldom gets praise or even acknowledgement of a job well done but always gets told when he or she falls short of some imaginary mark!

I know many in the Chief's Mess that said, upon retiring or transferring: "I never knew they appreciated me until I left!"  It is somewhat the same in the civilian world.  Especially if your next immediate superior is incompetent!  Why, because HE or SHE takes credit for what you do and nobody up the Chain of Command knows it was your idea or effort or exceptional work effort that solved the issue or completed the mission.  I lived in that Hell for ten years of my Civil Service career.  Many time, I went job hunting, but always stayed because I loved what I did and the people that worked with me.  My immediate supervisor was the issue and I learned to live on personal pride instead of corporate praise,

Leadership and not management is what is missing in the military and the civilian world.  It is the difference between doing things right and doing the right thing!   Another old Navy saying is;  Those that can't, teach!  Well, I learned that in the world of DOD Civil Service, those who can't, MANAGE!

Just the same, on a ship, the outstanding performer in the Chief's mess is a target not an example!  Since all the Chiefs in each of the three pay grades compete for the top spot at eval time, the Chief's Mess is a lion's den instead of a band of brothers.  High Year Tenure, promotion to E-8 or E-9, and even promotions to LDO or Warrant have all turned the Fellowship of Chief's into a cut throat band of pirates.  And the one who does extremely well needs to sleep with both eyes open.

When I was on Active Duty, the Navy had done away with E-9 evals.  That made sense.  Now, if you wanted to go LDO or Warrant, the Command would do an eval.  Evals were also done for special performance.  But who is the Master Chief competing with?  But now, Command Master Chief bills are competitive and at sea, in rate billets are few and far between for Master Chiefs.  So, if you want to stay on active duty, CMC may be the only way.  So, Master Chiefs are now in the fight too.

A kind word goes a long way in calming the waters.  Being able to come into the sanctity of the Chief's Mess used to be the only way I could relax and recharge.  Yes, we picked on each other, in a brotherly way.  But we worked together as a team.  But, at the end of my career, I saw that change and the competition, sniping, and back stabbing take over.  Especially among the younger Chiefs.

When I was at NAVSEACENLANT/FTSCLANT/MARMC I had a Chief publish an article I wrote with another retired Chief, as his own.  He got a medal for that article and never looked back, even though I challenged him on the fact that he had plagiarized my work and the work of another retired Chief.  That plagiarizing Chief actually made E-9 I am sorry to say.  But, I do believe he exemplifies the new Chief.

I was never looking for praise, because if I had to seek it, it had no value.  But, there were times that simple recognition of sacrifice and effort would have gone a long way in making my life better.  AS I sit in my power recliner, taking more pills that I can count, and unable to do much of anything that resembles physical work of mental effort, I realize that all the time I spent away from my family, on ships, working, was not appreciated and maybe not even profitable.  Things look different from this end of the tunnel.  The light was an oncoming train!

1 comment:

  1. ENC Jenkins, MMC Liddick, MRC Barton. These were my Chief Petty Officers on USS La Salle in the Persian Gulf in 1984. That's just from memory right now. They were just about the best Chiefs I ever met in the navy. I think it says a great deal about them that when the ship went through OPPE in the summer of that year and had to present 3 EOOWS to stand watch and go through the Engineering Casualty Control procedures 2 of the 3 were the ENC and MRC on a 600 pound steam plant with 7 MMC and BTCs that were passed over for the 'honor.'
    Second ship was not so fortunate but I had a good Chief in FTC Swihart even if the senior chief was not up to the task. Third and fourth ships had brilliant Chiefs in ENC Dones and EMC Orth as we swapped back and forth between our ships on the west coast to a ship in the Persian Gulf.
    After that I went to shore duty and while I thought EOC Hayes and CMC Tipton were outstanding, they were about the last of what I think of as the true CPOs of the USN. Either I got way smarter or way stupider but the CPO messes after that seemed to be mostly average and not the stand out stellar hard charging do the job right the first time kind of people. I don't think we'll ever see an EMC or any EM holding a commutator cutting stone against the commutator as the diesel turns it at 1000 rpm in order to smooth it out and let the brushes play over it with less friction. I doubt anybody in the navy even knows how to do something like that anymore.
    The Chiefs were good enough after that but it wasn't by any means the same. Maybe I learned too much and didn't give some of the chiefs a chance to do their jobs properly. I remember one of my better chiefs explaining that he was wiling to let shmucitelli try and fail a few times and possibly break it a little more in an effort to get him to learn how to troubleshoot and fix a piece of equipment. I don't know. Maybe I just didn't have the time for that anymore although I did my best to make it when I could. 2 AM in a minefield isn't the time to be explaining paralleling a generator when one of them just died and you did an emergency start on the remaining one.

    I doubt any of them even know my name but I sure remember them. I'd have to say you made an enormous difference.