By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
(YOKOSUKA, Japan) – Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) recently held a middle managers forum to broaden and deepen supervisors’ understanding of the command’s 2016 strategic plan. Following all hands calls events in January during which the plan was unveiled, the forums were conducted for Japanese Master Labor Contract personnel and U.S. Navy and civil service members in managerial positions, Feb. 8-12, 2016.
The strategic plan outlines and defines the command’s vision, direction and guiding principles and is communicated to every SRF-JRMC employee across all organizational levels.
SRF-JRMC’s first strategic area (SA1) addresses workforce and leadership development, whereas the second strategic area (SA2) addresses efficient management of command capacity and workload. Each strategic area is broken down into tactical goals which define specific deliverables for the command.
In line with the command’s strategic plan, the forum was kicked off by the strategic area “champions” – assigned leaders who oversee goal execution. Individual sessions were arranged in groups of 40 to 50 people in order to allow active engagement and constructive feedback while encouraging and promoting an open exchange of ideas.
“Middle managers are essential supervisors who oversee employees on a day-to-day basis and play an important role in delivering information, offering direction and providing guidance to support the strategic plan,” said SRF-JRMC Commanding Officer Capt. Garrett Farman.
“There is a difference between a leader and a supervisor,” said Susan George, the SA1 champion and Environmental, Safety, Health and Radiological Controls department head during a U.S. military personnel session. “Sometimes, leaders and supervisors overlap on their competencies. But nonetheless, good leadership needs good communication. How we communicate with our Japanese members, who are the majority of our workforce, is the key to success.”
Based on the command climate survey in 2015, George mentioned a strong need to clarify supervisors’ expectations and to standardize supervisory responsibilities. She also emphasized the importance of ensuring all supervisors have the same understanding of these responsibilities.
One of the forum participants, Norihisa Nishimura, an engineering technician from the SRF-JRMC Dive Locker commented: “Overall, I was able to understand the objectives clearly. But I would also like SRF-JRMC to create a much better work environment. For a craftsperson to mature and gain meaningful experience, they need to be in a stable work environment where they can maintain their position.”
Another participant, Masahiro Ooki, a dock equipment electrician from Preparation Shop, said: “It’s important that all SRF-JRMC members – supervisors and non-supervisors – receive the same standardized training. So, we can readily work together and get closer to true cultural understanding and achieve our goals.”
Production Engineering Superintendent Tadashi Miyahara and Waterfront Operations Officer Cmdr. Mitchell Perrett briefed the forum participants of the second strategic area. As the SA2 champions, they assured their workforce that steps are already taken to move forward and achieve the deliverables.
“There are things that we can do and can’t do,” said Perrett. “We need to balance taking in enough work to make the ships sustainable. By overcommitting, we cannot execute our work.”
Furthermore, Perrett stressed the importance of delivering ships on time: “It is important to determine the root cause of unacceptable scheduled performance. In light of Yokosuka’s strategic location, ships here are on call 24/7. They can’t afford to be late.”
“In regards to the achieving [efficient management of command capacity and workload],” said Ooki “the contribution I can make right now would be to make maximum use of our current human resources, materials and experience.”
SRF-JRMC’s middle management forum began in 1999. The objective was to provide a means to directly improve communication between the commanding officer and the Japanese middle managers to resolve problems of general interest. Participation was open to all SRF-JRMC managers.
Since 2007, this forum is now conducted to roll out the annual strategic plan and share detailed information of how SRF-JRMC middle managers can proactively lead in the strategic plan execution.