JANUARY 12, 2017, NORFOLK (NNS) – Norfolk Naval Shipyard will launch its initial High Velocity First Line Supervisor (1LS) class in February, changing the way supervisors are both hired and trained.
Unlike the original five-day training model, the new model is based on curriculum design concepts which are composed of “learn, use, and teach back,” explained Chad Coffin, lead curriculum designer for NNSY’s Command University.
“Instead of just sitting in a classroom, new supervisors will have a half day of classroom training and a half day to go out and reinforce and reflect on what they learned,” said Coffin.
This means after a topic such as safety surveillance is taught, participants will then conduct one, as well as filling out and submitting the associated paperwork. They will also have a chance to discuss what works and what could be improved.
In the past, training was often segmented. The new six-week program incorporates supervisor core competency requirements from various aspects of the shipyard. These include production specific trainings, production safety, shipyard safety, human resources, the Equal Employment Office, and the Legal Department.
“Senior leader involvement is also a huge aspect of this program, as they will be holding discussion panels,” said Coffin.
Shadowing has also been added to the program, which sends participants to observe other departments. This provides them an opportunity for systems thinking, a holistic approach to analysis, as well as cohesion when executing and planning work, added Coffin.
“This also affords them a chance to get different leadership perspectives and ways of execution,” he continued. “It gives them ideas of things they may want to integrate as a new leader.”
After participants complete the program, the expectation is they will receive additional department specific knowledge and training, said Coffin.
“The overall goal for leadership across the shipyard is that our new supervisors will be able to effectively and confidently execute work on the waterfront from the start,” he said.
The program will also work in cohesion with the shipyard’s hiring office. Previously, NNSY would hire supervisors on an as-needed basis, sometimes having to hire a supervisor almost on the spot. In turn, new supervisors are required to receive leadership and fundamental training within a year of the promotion, but often training would be delayed for various reasons.
With the new process, departments will have to look at their future workload and manning and make the decision to hire supervisors based on those projections. Supervisors will in turn be hired in batches across the shipyard in order to meet the workload demand and efficiently get them through the training program without hindering production.
Supervisors may be hired through the Management Identification of Candidates (MIC) process. The MIC process allows management to advertise the vacancies within their departments without the formal USAJobs announcement, making the process more efficient and effective.
Employees interested in being considered for a vacancy will submit the required documentation identified in the solicitation of interest directly to the Fleet Forces Command Human Resources Office located at NNSY.
The human resources specialist reviews all applicants’ qualifications to create a list of eligible employees for the hiring manager. The hiring manager then follows the normal processes for selecting the best candidate for the vacancy.
Once supervisors have been identified and hired, they will immediately head into the High Velocity 1LS program.
“The purpose of the new process is not only to be proactive in developing new leaders, but at the same time encourage a paradigm change for the new supervisor who will be stepping into a new role,” said Chakeita Dickson, curriculum designer for NNSY’s Command University. “It’s important for them to realize they are stepping out of their technical role and into an execution role. For them it will mean a change in role and attitude.”
Once the supervisors complete the program, the shipyard will hold a graduation celebration attended by the stakeholders.
“We want to make this a big deal; participants will receive their new supervisor hard hats and will be honored by their chain of command, friends, and family,” Coffin said.
High velocity learning is derived from a concept found in the book “The High Velocity Edge,” written by author Steven Spears. According to Spears, high velocity organizations manage processes based on internally generated improvement and innovation.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has called on the Navy to concentrate on four specific areas in the January 2016 released document, “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Security.” One of these areas is “Achieve High Velocity Learning at Every Level.”
Inspired by this, NNSY Commanding Officer Capt. Scott Brown mandated leaders within the shipyard to enhance supervisor training by using innovative methods to help new leaders grow, while at the same time seeing a rise in overall performance.
“We believe it is important to invest the time in the participants and really prep them as much as we can,” said Dickson. “Integrating the experiential component into this course increases the ability of our new supervisors to not only perform well, but to do so confidently.”
“Our hope is this program will also do more than just provide knowledge or hands-on experience,” Dickson added. “We hope it will instill pride and inspiration not only in the new supervisors, but all those who observe the process.”
By Jennifer Zingalie, Norfolk Naval Shipyard Public Affairs