learning to trust my own opinions and expertise
Once upon a time, when I was a junior Navy officer, I started work at Maritime Headquarters and inherited a sailor who I was told was useless, and that his Retention was Not in the Interest of the Navy (RNIN). My predecessor, an officer of only one year more seniority and experience than myself, informed me that this sailor was to be performance managed out of the Navy, and that the process had already been started – in three months time the sailor would receive a performance review that showed no improvement and three more months after that, his employment would be terminated.
And that is EXACTLY what happened.
The sailor was, by no stretch of the imagination, a star. He had not really much go-getter about him. He was probably also about 19 years old. Just a kid.
The thing is, I quite simply cannot tell you that he was so bad at his work that he was irredeemable, because I don’t know that. To my eternal shame, I never paid more than scant regard to that sailor, or tried to make any difference to him through training, guidance, support, supervision or management.
Maybe my predecessor had tried to do those things with him. Maybe he really was pretty useless. But he was my responsibility and I shirked it completely and totally.
Being kicked out of the Navy isn’t like losing a job. It is losing your friends and your home and your community and your support all at once. It is being told that you are not good enough, not just for a job, but not good enough to be a part of this great big thing that is the Defence Force. I think of this with horror, because at the time I’m not sure that I really ever considered him as a person – just a sailor, a thing that the Navy could do with as it pleased, and at its convenience. I have much good to say about the Navy, but also this – it is too too easy to lose sight of the fact that you are dealing with people’s lives. Sailors, officers, all of us, were just cogs in a big wheel, and when the people managing you see you like that it is too easy to make decisions without a necessary view to the impact on the person.B
But that is not an excuse, this is a failure that I own. I should have been a better person and a better manager.
And now I can say that I am.
Linking up with The Lounge at Falling Face First, and Talk to us Thursday at Blogs & PR