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NEWS | April 22, 2021

NNSY Collaborator Program Enables Peer-To-Peer Accountability and Fosters Growth

By Kristi Britt, Public Affairs Specialist Norfolk Naval Shipyard

As part of Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) Culture Change Team’s (CCT) ongoing mission to create a more inclusive workplace that develops an atmosphere where employees can thrive, learn and continuously develop, the team recently implemented the NNSY Collaborator Program. This program matches up pairs of employees currently from the WS-10 to GS-15 level leadership level, one remaining in their position while the other shadows.

The first two iterations of the program included supervisors from the Radiological Controls (Code 105), Quality Assurance (Code 130), Engineering and Planning (Code 200), Lifting and Handling (Code 700), and Production Resources (Code 900) Departments.  This third iteration has two employees paired for three to four weeks for roughly an hour a day. At the halfway mark, the two will switch who is shadowing. This iteration will include participation from the Operations (Code 300) and Nuclear Engineering and Planning (Code 2300) Departments.

“The purpose of the program is to identify or improve behaviors that can benefit others in relation to our shipyard’s culture change,” said CCT Co-Lead Jason Braun. “It was designed as a tool to enable peer-to-peer accountability, and to help improve one another as we continue to grow towards a better America’s Shipyard. Sometimes we all get complacent in what we do every day and it takes an outside force to really open up our eyes as to what changes are needed to better ourselves. For example, if we become comfortable doing a process a certain way, then we will continue to perform the work that way even if it’s not the best way to complete the work. By having an outside perspective, we could help change that process for the betterment of employees and the shipyard.” 

During the three-week period, the shadowing collaborator will spend time with their partner and observe some key factors in what they do every day. Aligned with NNSY Shipyard Commander Capt. Dianna Wolfson’s “One Mission – One Team” concept, the program provides an opportunity for participants to beter understand other departments and increase teaming opportunities.

“What organizational skills do they have, what tools and techniques do they use, are those tools and techniques harmful or helpful to the development of their people are just some of the questions they would be looking to answer in their observations,” said CCT Co-Lead Carlynn Lucas. “It’s a partnership between our employees that fosters growth across the board. The home collaborator will receive valuable feedback from the employee shadowing them and see what they can do to become a better leader. At the same time, the visiting collaborator will also gain insight on their own leadership style and gather new ideas for how to develop themselves.”

Feedback from the collaborators has been relatively positive all-around. Participants have shared how they manage commitments, how to change mindsets, and how employees each play an integral role in the departments.

“One of our collaborators mentioned that the employee she shadowed taught her a great deal about how to integrate apprentices into the work the shop does every day. She and her partner also compared ways to connect with employees and provide more opportunities for mentorship,” said Lucas. “Another mentioned that being partnered with a leader from a different department taught them about the overall connection each team has with the shipyard’s.”

Braun continued, “There was an employee that mentioned that their collaborator showed them shortcuts in SUPDESK that saved them time out of their day to focus on other matters. Another employee who is reliant on the notes they take each day to remember the tasks at hand was shown tips and tricks to better organize their notes and Outlook to best serve their needs. Everyone had something to take away from the experience, some even building those connections to further mentor one-another beyond the Collaborator Program. All in all, I am excited to see this program continue to build as we move forward, seeing how it will help improve America’s Shipyard for the better.”