Sponsorship episode (Big E experience)

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One of many lasting Big E memories ... goods & others that shaped aspirations to serve as a carrier CMC.

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Sponsorship episode (Big E experience)

  1. 1. From: Winnefeld, J.A. CAPTSent: Friday, August 18, 2000 12:16 PMTo: HODsCc: CPO Selectees; CPOs CVN-65; Officers CVN-65Subject: sponsor programFolks,As you know, Ive recently "seized" control of our sponsor program. I know that some of you wereprobably doing an acceptable job, but far too many of the folks I would ask at INDOC would come up withvery unacceptable answers when I asked how well they had been sponsored. So I decided that allSailors coming to Big E will be sponsored by khaki, and that I will personally sponsor the next Sailor withorders to our fine ship. I will set the example.As an aside, I will refresh your memory on a line from my "blue blaster" from the section onmicromanagement: "Recognize when there are times when I must insert myself into the process--when Ido, listen to my ideas and bear with me." This is one of those times.I would add that sometimes, as more senior folks, we lose sight of how hard it can really be to get thingsdone on the deckplates, and Ive suspected all along that the reason behind our poor sponsorperformance had at least as much to do with how hard it is to get in touch with recruite/trainees as it didwith people simply not caring. So, besides sponsoring a Sailor to set the example, I am also doing it todiscover the systemic problems---both inside and outside our lifelines---that are keeping us from doing agood job.I will keep you informed as I travel down this road. Here is what I have so far:- I received a piece of paper from PERS giving me my Sailors name and some info clipped from hisorders regarding approximately where he will be for the next couple of months (RTC and apprenticeshiptraining). I called the phone number at RTC that was on the paper, and reached their Admin office.They said they could not give me the information on how to get hold of my Sailor, and that I had to talk toPSD. (This tells me that our folks would likely have the same problem, and if so . . . how come thatnumber is still on the sheet I received? I would think someone who tried to call and failed would havetold PERS "This is the real number you need to call . . . ").I then called RTC PSD, who told me I was not allowed to talk to my Sailor and would have to write a letterto him. When I protested that I just wanted to be a good sponsor, I was firmly, but nicely told thats theway it is. So I called the RTC CMC office and spoke to the CMC.Nice guy, very enthusiastic and good to talk to. He agreed to help, and admitted that there might besome problems with the system . . . and that perhaps he might need to give Fleet and Force MasterChiefs the correct contact numbers (by the way, in my opinion, the number to the recruits "ship"(barracks), along with the senior chief petty officer running it ought to be on the Sailors orders!). TheCMC stated that, when he was CMC on STOUT, they had to try all kinds of ways to get to speak to theirSailors at RTC . . . (which begs the question . . . based on his experience, what is RTC doing about theproblem? Perhaps not enough of us fleet folks have complained about not being able to reach recruits).I also asked him about the addition of e-mail in the RTC barracks (which we heard four or five monthsago was going to happen) so we could reach recruits . . . he stated that it would be on line in a couple ofmonths (which is what we heard four or five months ago). I asked him if it was a funding problem (i.e.,lack of computers), because I know people who would love to jump on a donation of that sort. He saidsomething about whenever they plug in 3 irons in one of the barracks that the power goes off, etc . . . Hesaid that he would get the info on how to reach my recruit to me within 24 hours (not at my demand, Imight add, he was the one who offered the 24 hours).My game plan from here is to see if the 24 hours pans out, and, if it doesnt, to call back on Monday.Once I figure out how to talk to the lucky young man, Ill do so. I will want to know how he wants me tomail his welcome aboard package to him. I havent seen our package yet, and look forward to
  2. 2. it---whoever is in charge of this, please bring me one. (By the way, we have found that trying topre-position these packages at various strategic points is a great idea that fails miserably in execution,and is a great waste of money and time.) If our welcome aboard package is merely a bunch of literatureabout Norfolk, I will add a photo of Big E and a sticker, as well as a personal letter. If I discover in myphone call that, for example, he is interested in wood working, I will go to the wood working shop on baseon my way home and will get whatever literature they have and enclose it as well. Ill also send him anyBig E literature I can, including our schedule to the extent it is unclassified. I will then have Admin mail itwherever he and I agree is the highest percentage place for him to get it (home? RTC? apprenticeshiptraining?). Ill also be asking him about his travel plans so I can meet him at the airport. You get thepicture.But . . . I have to reach him first. Ill let you know how it works out in next weeks episode.I want to emphasize that sponsorship is a critical program for us . . . it has leverage that we dont evenknow about yet. I consider sponsorship to be a long term idea. I prefer that sponsors be identified aspeople who will be aboard the ship at least through our deployment, if possible. If someone goes tomast, their sponsor should be there with them. A sponsor should check on their Sailor frequently. Withover 300 officers and chiefs on this ship, and only about 50 people arriving per month, you will not have tosponsor someone very often . . . so you can REALLY do the job right. A sponsor does NOT need to befrom a Sailors department . . . indeed, it might be better to have the sponsor NOT be from the Sailorsdepartment. Good sponsorship will help us retain Sailors in the Navy and will prevent their attrition.Improving these numbers is not a COs fitrep bullet . . . it will make life better for all of us . . . more peopleon the job, less time taken up by discipinary problems, etc. Lets make this work.More to follow.R/CO

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