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NEWS | April 2, 2019

75 Norfolk Naval Shipyard Employees Pledge to Change Cultural Behaviors

By April Brown

March 4 marked a historic day at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) as 75 employees raised their right hand and took an oath to become Care, Ownership, Respect, and Excellence (C.O.R.E.) Force Multipliers.
The event marked the team of force multipliers officially starting their journey to bring awareness and help the workforce understand the meaning behind C.O.R.E. and its impacts to the mission.
“Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s mission is not just delivering ships. It is people. We need to look at the way we treat people, the way we act as a team, and how we are going to change,” said Gary Sauers, Code 105 Director of Radiological Control. “For years, we have been trying to figure out why the different initiatives weren’t working and what we have realized is, it is the behaviors. It is how we value and treat our people.”
Throughout decades, there has been one, two, 50, 100 or more people who have said and taught the words: if you take care of your people, they will in return take care of you.
“I think the people piece of the business is so important, because it is the people who make change,” said CAPT Dianna Wolfson, NNSY Business and Strategic Planning Officer. “It’s the people who drive results. It is the people who do the work. If we don’t take care of those people who are delivering the naval assets back to the fleet, we are not doing our job right.”
In the NNSY Command Philosophy, it begins with “people are at the heart of what we do to accomplish the mission of Norfolk Naval Shipyard.”
Henri Zajic, NAVSEA 04R agrees with that philosophy and considers NNSY to be a national treasure with a big future when it comes to its people, the work that is done on a daily basis, and its mission to the Navy and our country.
“In my mind, there are five critical elements that make up this national treasure that is called NNSY. It has a skilled workforce, engineering, management structure and system management tools, infrastructure, and integrity,” said Zajic. “Over the past 50 years in our nation, we have gradually shifted from being an industrial-based economy to a service-based economy. What that means to us is, people don’t really ever understand deeply the work you do, how important that work is, and how difficult it is for you to get that work done.”
The C.O.R.E. force multipliers are ready for the challenges that lie ahead of promoting workforce change by helping the workforce voices be heard, helping employees understand they are valued, and influencing positive change across the shipyard.
“All of our efforts to improve capabilities, to develop people, and structure our organization, must align to a fundamental principle,” said Shipyard Commander Captain Kai Torkelson. “Changing a culture takes more than a memo. It takes more than the words that are on paper. Changing a culture is more than painting a logo on the side of a building.”
Changing culture can be presented, seen, and heard in many forms. It can also hold a special value. Wolfson has carried four words (discipline, responsibility, integrity, and patience) with her impacted her naval career more than she expected, and has helped mold her into the person she is today.
She explained those words are also similar to the words used by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) in his design in maintaining maritime superiority which are accountability, initiative, integrity, and toughness.
“I compare discipline to accountability. Discipline at the shipyard is to understand our motives. I compare initiative to responsibility. Responsibility-to build an organization that has expertise as though you don’t need a boss. Integrity is being a person of your worth. Always do what is right and honor your commitments,” said Wolfson. “The CNO talks about toughness. I believe you cannot achieve toughness without some amount of patience because you never quit and go home. You keep fighting with that strength and resilience. We prioritize others over ourselves. When we do that, we achieve something much greater which is a culture of excellence.”
The force multiplier team is ready to bring forth a positive change to the workforce not just presently but well into the future.
“The C.O.R.E. Force Multipliers will be at the forefront and ensuring America’s Shipyard successfully implements these values throughout our entire organization,” said Torkelson. “They are essential to elevating America’s Shipyard to a new performance level that builds our trust, our confidence, and our credibility with the Navy, with our nation, and with each other.”


We the members of Norfolk Naval Shipyard's team of force multipliers, do hereby declare our unwavering commitment to the team centered values of C.O.R.E.-Care, Ownership, Respect and Excellence. The evidence of our dedication to this course will be measured by the quality of our daily interactions with one another, the establishment of a climate where we truly value and respect our entire workforce and a noticeable improvement in the on-time delivery of ships and submarines that return to the fleet ready to support the mission of our navy and ultimately our nation. We acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead but embrace each one as an opportunity to get better. Each individual who signs this proclamation has already begun the journey to improve one’s self and in turn will fully support each team member who comes forth and who is willing to put their shoulders to the wheel. Here in NNSY, our history is enduring and our legacy is strong, but we must be committed for our heritage to live on. We are America’s Shipyard and we are committed to our C.O.R.E.!