SRF-JRMC wraps up 2017 command climate assessment with defined actions and solutions

By Joyce Lopez, SRF-JRMC Corporate Communications

YOKOSUKA, Japan (Sept. 28, 2016) – Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) machinist shop personnel mount USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19)’s shaft to the lathe for inspection and repair. SRF-JRMC provides ship maintenance and modernization for Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet forces using advanced industrial techniques while keeping the 7th Fleet operationally ready. (Photo by Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs, SRF-JRMC/Released)

YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 2, 2017) – Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) closed out their 2017 command climate assessment, as annually mandated by the Chief of Naval Operations for all commands.

SRF-JRMC provides ship maintenance and modernization for Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet forces using advanced industrial techniques while keeping the 7th Fleet operationally ready.

“Our employees are the heart of the command’s success, and we value them as our most important resource,” said Capt. Garrett Farman, SRF-JRMC’s commanding officer. “As such, SRF finds different avenues to ensure our employees’ voices are heard and considered and that their concerns are acted on through climate assessment surveys, focus groups and the command’s strategic plan.”

Command climate assessments’ purpose is to look at the overall functioning of the command, the effectiveness of its employee opportunity programs, the thoughts and perceptions of its employees, and follow-up actions on previous issues.

This year’s themes focused on multi-level and -directional communication and workload management issues – the crux of the identified issues based on employees’ climate survey responses.

“Finding a way to get every employee to give their honest input and, let alone, coordinating time for them to do it without severely impacting productivity were some of the biggest challenges,” said Chief Electronic Technician John Bergman, co-command managed equal opportunity (CMEO) manager and one of the assessment team’s leaders. “It took a lot of people throughout SRF working together to actually make it happen.”

As one of the largest commands onboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka, SRF-JRMC employs over 2,500 personnel comprised of U.S. military and Department of Defense civilians and Japanese employees, or Master Labor Contractors, the majority of whom are the latter. The command’s total workforce includes their headquarters in Yokosuka and their detachment in Sasebo.

In Yokosuka, approximately 85 percent of the command’s total workforce are Japanese employees, of which 60 percent are from the production department and industrial shops. Whereas in Sasebo, there are approximately 400 employees, of which about 40 percent are Japanese production and industrial shop workers.

The remaining 15 percent of SRF-JRMC composes the codes, or offices and departments, who directly or indirectly support the production shops: environmental, safety, health and radiological controls; engineering and planning; waterfront operations; quality assurance; information technology and cyber security; crane lifting and handling; comptroller; administrative; and business and strategic planning.

“A significant amount of employees don’t have access to a PC,” ETC Bergman said, “because their jobs require them to be out on the deck plates, fixing the ships. This has made giving an online survey an ineffective option.”

The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute provides the assessment survey to military and DoD civilians electronically. However, they do not offer an electronic version for Japanese employees and translation services, nor do they process paper surveys.

YOKOSUKA, Japan (March 3, 2017) – In dry dock 6, a team of Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC)’s machine shop and lifting and handling department’s operations division workers prepares a lifter to raise USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19)’s shaft, in preparation for shaft and propeller fitting tests. (Photo by Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs/Released)

Due to these reasons, SRF-JRMC was limited to locally developed and processed paper surveys for their Japanese employees.

“SRF is a bilingual command,” said Chief Electronic Technician Alan Brandenburg, co-CMEO manager. “Every day, there are local technical documents and manuals being translated from English into Japanese in order to help shop workers do their jobs on ships. So it is essential that our surveys and focus groups be provided in both English and Japanese, too.”

Because SRF-JRMC is a large organization, gathering every employee’s feedback was no easy feat for the assessment team, according to the deputy commander and assessment team leader, Cmdr. David Dwyer.

“Every team member’s efforts, including the translators and interpreters, are tremendously appreciated,” Dwyer said. “It was a very demanding, lengthy and challenging process, from planning, executing, analyzing, communicating…”

From start to finish, the climate assessment project took about seven months.

To wrap up, SRF-JRMC internally broadcasted a bilingual report via the command’s intranet and delivered printed copies to all areas of the command – every shop and code, both in Yokosuka and Detachment Sasebo. The four-page report explained the “top five” employee-identified issues, as well as a series of employee-recommended solutions and command actions currently in progress.

“As with all things, change takes time,” Dwyer said, “and it’s a dynamic process. We’re a command that believes in continuous improvement in how we do our business, and seeking to improve takes everyone’s commitment, communication, positive support and patience to see these great ideas come to fruition.

“Surely, we’re a unique and diverse command, and this will undoubtedly come with its challenges. Yet regardless of differences, we’re all here to serve the same mission… to fix and maintain ships, so we can send them back out to the Fleet on time and ensure security and stability in the Asia-Indo Pacific region.”

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