How does a leader find innovative ways to keep their department productive and engaged as more and more employees are working from home?
There is no singular answer to that question, but many leaders across the Navy enterprise have been tasked with tackling that challenge in an attempt to maintain their effectiveness as the country continues to fight COVID-19. One of those individuals, Emily Grauwiler of Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, did such an exceptional job rising to the occasion that she was named the recipient of the Naval Sea Systems Command Human Resources Award in 2020.
“Serving as an example of the hard work, integrity and character necessary for a leader, Ms. Grauwiler represents the epitome of a Human Resources Director for the Warfare Centers,” her nomination said.
Grauwiler has served as the division head of the Human Resources Division since November 2018. Initially stepping in in an interim capacity following the retirement of the previous division head, she swiftly quelled any discussions of finding another person to officially take the role. The award nomination credited her with bringing “a fresh perspective and forward thinking approach to her new role,” during a time in which innovation and fast-thinking was paramount to the division’s success.
At the onset of Coronavirus and the subsequent effects on normal work operations, Grauwiler said that her main focus was figuring out how she and her group could support the forthcoming transition of a virtual work environment. Actions such as onboarding, training, adjusting telework agreements and many other functions needed to be addressed quickly and properly communicated to the workforce.
“We just put all of our heads together to see what we could make a quick transition versus what was going to take some time,” Grauwiler said. “The big thing up front was, we wanted to keep hiring and recruiting, and getting our folks both trained and developed.”
Carderock was able to continue bringing in new employees throughout the year, and Grauwiler led the charge of shifting the onboarding process to a series of virtual tasks that still effectively integrated new hires into the culture of the command and their respective departments. Of course, making these transitions did not come void of challenges. Grauwiler said that a key component to overcoming those early hurdles was devoting time to learning about the tools at their disposal, and partnering with other divisions to learn how HR could better support them.
Leading such an essential piece of the command’s infrastructure in an unprecedented environment was a challenge that Grauwiler welcomed. Between revamping department functions and hosting virtual events with her team to keep them engaged while they remain apart, she checked all the boxes of consideration for the NAVSEA HR Leadership Award. That did not make her any less surprised and excited when she received her nomination and ultimately won. For all the time and dedication Grauwiler has poured into running a successful virtual HR office, she made it clear that this was not a solo mission.
“I couldn’t have done it without my team and everything they’ve done to help support the Human Resources Office through the years,” she said. “I’m very fortunate to have this amazing HRO at Carderock, and I really look forward to seeing the amazing things that we’ll be able to produce and do for the workforce going forward.”