Sailorizing the Sailors

Story Number: NNS070214-04Release Date: 2/14/2007 12:11:00 PM
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By Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Grieco, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Atlantic

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Sometimes even the leaders need advice. They need improved methods of reaching those in their charge and inspiring them to be better members of the team.

Hampton Roads Sailors attended a leadership briefing, Feb. 7, which was included in the weeklong Career Management Symposium at the Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Little Creek theater, to help strengthen their abilities. The symposium included briefings on everything from career information to mentoring.

The Navy is no stranger to the mentoring environment: Senior Sailors have been mentoring their juniors for years and each day they help "sailorize" their Sailors. Sailorization is the process of turning a person into a well-rounded member of the Navy, and there are different approaches to doing this.

Many commands throughout the Navy implement their own mentorship programs.

"We had a peer group program (at my last command)," said Command Master Chief (AW/NAC) Kenneth Ellenburg, the incoming command master chief for the Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) in Millington, Tenn. "We let the people who were on your level deal with your issues and decide how to correct them."

Ellenburg said the peer group was divided into three different divisions. Each division was comprised of people of the same pay grades and they would elect somebody to represent them at the command.

"If there was a barracks issue, the people living in the barracks would be best suited for coming up with a solution," said Ellenburg.

In 2001, Sailors aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) took a different approach toward improving mentorship by creating the Under My Wing project aimed at providing junior Sailors the resources, skills and knowledge they need to succeed in Navy life.

In Under My Wing, Sailors entered into a contract with their mentors which outlined goals -- whether physical, academic, or professional. The mentor and the protege met for two hours a week to discuss the progress being made and answer any questions.

Operational Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Raquel Randolph, leading petty officer for Tactical Training Group Atlantic onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, Dam Neck Annex, explained how that command used the Essex program as a model for their own.

"Everyone petty officer 1st class and below has a mentor. They have mentoring sessions and you have to meet with them once a week," said Randolph.

At the end of the relationship, both protege and mentor will complete a survey that shows the command a rating level that they can use to evaluate a mentor's effectiveness.

"You know your people and you want to see them improve," said Ellenburg about the importance of mentoring. "We're not all at the deck plate level, but you are and you have to make sure you are available to help those junior Sailors."

"It's just down to that human desire to better ourselves and we want to help others do that," said Randolph.

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