Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Common Sense Tips for Junior Officers

BE AN ACTION OFFICER:  Do what your Dept Head or superiors tell you to and get things done.  Be effective and help others.  Do it right the first time.  Seek the sage wisdom of your senior enlisted and listen to your Chief if you are fortunate enough to have one.

  Go to bat for them when they need help. Talk to them before you sign anything.   Don’t give them an easy “yes” when you know that “no” is needed.  Show that you actually care about them; the job they are doing; and the adversity they face.  Sincerity and honesty are the fundamental building blocks of solid divo leadership.  If you do not care than neither will they.

HELP YOUR DEPT HEAD:  Give them proposed solutions to problems you bring them. Take the load from them when they are struggling.  Put yourself in their shoes and try to anticipate what they will need.

WRITE AND ROUTE MESSAGES:  Learn to write GENADMIN msgs and formatted ones as well (casreps, sitreps, etc.).  The Divo should route msgs for the division whenever possible, especially if the CO is going to release them.

SUBMIT AWARDS FOR YOUR PEOPLE:  You get paid more because you are supposed to be college educated---learn to  write solid awards and evals.

STAND WATCH AND EARN YOUR  QUALS:  Do a little every day and set target dates for boards.  Be aggressive but not cocky.  Competency is much more valuable than expediency.  Seek out the experts and ask them lots of questions.

WALK YOUR SPACES:  Break away from the log room, Combat System Office or Ops office and walk your spaces.  Go to a different outlying space everyday.  See what is really going on during the day.  Do you know where your chief and LPO are?  How about your maintenance people?  Be the eyes and ears of the Dept.

PUSH HARD TO CLEAR CASUALTIES:  Your goal should be  to identify broken equipment in your division, document it on the csmp and 8s; and figure out a way to fix it.  Always, always tell your dept head early if you have broken gear and don’t have the resources to fix it.  Know what you own.

LEARN FROM YOUR CHIEF AND YOUR SAILORS:  They will always know more details than you—so ask them questions.  Make them teach you.  Demonstrate a sincere hunger to learn.

If you are not sure of your role in your dept;  ask your boss.  The question might kick start him or her into action to clarify what it is you are supposed to be doing day to day.

  You will never have more time to do the job than you do right now.  Prioritize your work and your life.  Work harder than you party.  Stay late one night a week and work on your quals, trace systems and clear out your in box.

SET THE TONE FOR YOUR PEOPLE:  Lead by example—look good in uniform; always maintain a professional attitude, demonstrate an eagerness to learn.  Be consistent and positive.  Have a sense of humor and don’t complain about things in front of your Sailors.

ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS:  Know who your people are and what their goals and aspirations are;  ask about how gear works and really learn your systems—you should know more about your stuff than your dept head.

WRITE STUFF DOWN:  Take notes, make to do lists and ensure that others do.  Track your division’s schedule and understand what will need to be done not just today but tomorrow, next week and in the months to come.  Make yourself a gouge book or binder on your ship.  Take good notes and use it to study from.  Keep it after you leave as a memory aid---some day in the future you will be grateful you did.

LEARN HOW TO DRAFT & FOLLOW A POA&M:  Whether you use excel spreadsheets, a palm pilot, or a word document; when you get a big task that requires others to do things:  draft a plan with those who will be working with you; assign deadlines and tell individuals to be responsible for each item.  Update this list often and distribute it.  Most importantly, follow it yourself and hold people accountable.   Plan effectively and look down the road.

READ THE GOVERNING REFERENCES:  It is so easy to research references on line now there is no excuse not to have an idea what is in the reference.   You--the divo-- should do the research, read the references and bring them up the chain if need be.

  Don't wait until O call to be told what is hot, read your email and traffic early in the morning and anticipate what your dept head will task you and your division with.

   You are all going to get "Ps" on your fitreps so don't let competition drive a wedge between you and your fellow officers.  Your Sailors will know if you only care about yourself and your future and not theirs.   Make the needs of your division and or your department your priorities.   Points are awarded for being a team player---CO's like that a lot!!!!

You will be the corporate knowledge a year from now.  Learn your ship, its capabilities and limitations.  Trace systems, keep a gouge book, learn from all the technical experts every day you serve.   You should want to learn how to fight your ship so that you & your shipmates can win battles and save lives.

LEVERAGE YOUR STRENGTHS:  Whether its your knowledge of computer local area networks, foreign languages, electrical engineering or playing the guitar you bring a unique skill set to your ship.   Use your unique skills to benefit your division, department and ship.  This will bring you and your Sailors great satisfaction.

COURTESY OF Commander Tony Parisi, USN


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Commander Parisi, for the common sense wisdom derived from your own long experience, common military tradition, and what was successfully used by a prominent wartime general, Colin Powell. Thank you also for putting your practical guidance into simple, direct words that can be understood and followed by your subordinates without interpretation.

Anonymous said...

Have integrity, own and correct both good and bad issues.

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

If a Junior Officer follows these many sage pieces of advice he/she will no doubt be successful in their endeavors to be an outstanding leader of Sailors, which in turn will benefit that same officer, all the Sailors under that Officers charge and that part of our Navy that this Officer is associated with.

Very Respectfully,

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say don't stop putting advice like this on your web site. I have to admit I stole this and have started my CPO mid term counseling early based on the advice contained within this blog.

We have cut far too many seasoned chiefs, that many junior chiefs have not learned what there role is and that JO's are not a burden but are supposed to be their protégée’s to be molded into great leaders.

Keep the faith.

Very Respectfully,

Mike Lambert said...


Please send me your mailing address.