By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) delivered a series of all-hands bystander intervention training, redesigned for their U.S. civilian employees and Japanese Master Labor Contract (MLC) employees, Sept. 13 to Oct. 20, 2016.
Adopted from the U.S. Navy’s discussion-based Bystander Intervention to the Fleet training, the program seeks to encourage everyone, regardless of rank or level in the chain of command, to “step up and step in” when misconduct occurs in the workplace. It seeks to enable participants to recognize the power of bystanders in preventing situations from possibly escalating to serious crime or life-threatening outcomes.
“The purpose of the training is to get everybody to see if they see something wrong [and to] say something,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Dominique Taylor, the command managed equal opportunity advisor, who facilitated some of the English sessions to the leadership. “Be it at work, at home, [or] on liberty. If it’s a [U.S. Navy] person doing something wrong, [a] Japanese or U.S. civilian should be okay with saying that something’s wrong, or vice versa.”
Taylor, the command support division and the continuous improvement office led the trainings to align all personnel with SRF-JRMC’s 2016 strategic plan in ensuring employees work in a harmonious environment and supervisors are trained and developed to lead them.
The training also demonstrated how bystanders can intervene directly or indirectly, or use “distractions” and protocol techniques. Many discussion questions were also used to facilitate open group discussions.
Additionally, the command used the original six Bystander Intervention to the Fleet video footage. Video topics included how to step up and step in when you see someone doing inappropriate things, how to handle a situation by consulting your supervisors without causing discord among people, and how to muster the courage to stop wrong conduct. The videos also showed examples of power harassment (workplace bullying), sexual harassment, physical and substance abuse and hazing.
“When I started working in the Navy, it was a different story,” said John Mahony, a supervisory ship maintenance specialist from the Business and Strategic Planning Department’s Waterfront Projects Branch. “Completely different. Everything was acceptable. Harassment and hazing. Hazing was a big thing.”
The videos also shared the message about respecting the workplace and one’s peers. “Treat others in the way you would like to be treated,” said a petty officer in the footage.
“When we see something going on that is not in accordance with our Navy core values, we need to address it immediately,” said Master Chief Petty Officer April Beldo in the video.
“It’s fundamentally having the guts to tell a shipmate that they are going on a wrong path, and then try to correct it before it becomes a destructive event,” said Vice Adm. Bill Moran, who was a vice admiral and the chief of naval personnel at the time of the video, now vice chief of naval operations.
“So far I am pretty satisfied with the results,” Taylor said, regarding the progress of the training. “[We received] a lot of good feedback, a lot of conversations took place during training. So, hopefully everybody feels comfortable with stepping up and stepping in.”
For MLC personnel, majority of whom are Japanese nationals, bystander training was a new experience for many, both for supervisors and general employees. One MLC shared that they come from a culture where ‘stepping in’ is not common.
“When you speak up, it could keep bad things from happening,” said Yuuji Nakamura, a supervisory production control specialist from the Engineering and Planning Department’s Hull Job Planning Section. “In Japanese society, though, it is sometimes difficult because our society doesn’t encourage things like that. We tend to keep a low profile. Again, this is difficult, but we should try. This training empowered me to do so.”
“The fact that the training was for all hands means every one of you is also responsible,” said one of the facilitators, Kenichi Kashima, who is also the command hotline coordinator, to a group of general employees. “This encourages everybody to play a part in nurturing a culture where intervention can be pulled off by anybody at the lowest level.”
“What qualifies one as a ‘leader?’” said one of the participants, Kenji Seto, a supervisory translator from the Production Department during a discussion session. “What is leadership?”
“I think [the training] made me feel the bar is lowered for us to say something,” said Kazuyuki Oikawa, a supervisory production control specialist from the machinery shop. “Sharing this knowledge will become a good foundation where anybody – even if you are lower in grade – can do something without being afraid of retaliation or revenge.”
Kashima also added that Japanese people may be less aware of their rights as employees and, thus, tend to be reluctant to raise their voices in the workplace, especially to their supervisors.
“Everybody should act with ‘gut instincts,’” he said. “That is, when one feels something is wrong, one should not hesitate, but raise one’s voice and do something immediately. It is better to do something than do nothing. Whatever your rank is, you are entitled to show leadership qualities to prevent any wrongdoing.
“Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean you are superior or senior, but that you have courage to intervene when [something] causes an irrevocable harm. You have the power to do that.”