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NEWS | May 6, 2021

NNSY’s People Development Pillar Team: Strengthening the Team and Advancing the Mission

By Allison Conti, Public Affairs Specialist Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Editor’s Note: Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Strategic Framework is a tool to communicate the shipyard’s mission and vision statements, and shows how initiatives executed across the command tie together with why NNSY exists—to deliver warships.  In order to bridge the gap between mission and vision, NNSY has identified four critical focus areas—our pillars.  These pillars are the highest priority strategic focus areas we must urgently work to improve.  They are Infrastructure; Dependable Mission Delivery; People Development; and Process Improvement and Innovation.  

The People Development pillar seeks to improve the NNSY workforce by developing the Whole Person.  This concept involves positive change not just to one’s technical skills but also to their leadership skills and character development. The desired goal of the pillar is for NNSY to have a proficient workforce with effective leaders working together in a high performing team environment with the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors to support our mission. “The People Development pillar is key to strengthening the ‘team’ part of ‘One Mission – One Team,’” said Production Resources Department Workforce Development (Code 900B) and People Development Team Deputy John Veal. “Developing your team unlocks their creativity, makes them more goal-oriented, grow closer and improves retention of team members – everyone wants to be part of a good team.”

People Development pillar team member and Production Resource Manager Toney Pierce said, “People are the true asset of any organization. To reach our vision, we must develop a workforce that works together and is always focused on what is best for NNSY. We have multiple customers, but we are one shipyard.”

According to Shipyard Commander Capt. Dianna Wolfson, NNSY needs a workforce that is “brilliant on the basics.” This starts with hiring the best candidates. The People Development team plans on developing strategies to improve NNSY’s recruiting and onboarding process to recruit, hire, and promote the best talent.

“The challenges the shipyard faces are immense,” said NNSY’s Executive Director (Code 1100) and People Development Pillar Team lead Fred McKenna. “We need everyone that comes to the yard to be up to the task both in their technical knowledge and their ethical background.” 

But the People Development team’s efforts will extend past the recruitment of top talent. The pillar team is also striving to ensure a smooth onboarding and indoctrination process. In doing so, they hope to create a winning culture setting high standards and expectations.  “NNSY needs to become more agile in hiring people to replace those that leave our workforce.  Once onboard, we need to speed their development to becoming a ‘full-up round’ ready to do work,” said McKenna.

The People Development team will also pursue better guidance and development for the employees that are here in the manner of career development and succession planning.  One way of doing this is through implementing defined professional development pathways ensuring the workforce reaches full performance.  The goal will be to field a career assist office where employees can obtain knowledge on how to best reach their career desires.  

Finally, the pillar hopes to improve leadership development at NNSY.  This development needs to be aligned to the individual’s seniority and experience during their career progression. This effort will make it more transparent to employees what leadership courses they should take as they grow within their career.

Pillar team member and Lead Shipyard Mixed Materials Division Head (Code 106.4) Brian Rogerson said, “NNSY can do great things when we work together as a team. The People Development team is looking at the selection and development of the entire person to make sure we bring the best people together to work as a team and accomplish NNSY’s One Mission as One Team.”

The People Development team hopes to make a lasting change at NNSY that will allow the shipyard to reach its vision in the near future and for years to come. People Development pillar team member and Engineering Planning Department (Code 200) Branch Head Jim Duke said, “We need to stay the course and take advantage of this focus to create a sustainable model for this generation and next.”

The People Development team is made up of a number of NNSY employees from diverse backgrounds and departments. Along with McKenna, Veal, Duke, Rogerson and Pierce, the team includes Lifting and Handling Department Director (Code 700) Terri Makely, NNSY Counsel (Code 107) Jim Metcalfe, Business and Strategic Planning Office Nuclear Business Manager (Code 1200 N) Gail Coulson, NNSY Detachment - Naval Foundry and Propeller Center Director (Code 1400) Nate Bird, Submarine Program Manager (Code 300) Pat Ensley, and Lifting and Handling Support Manager (Code 701.1) Matthew DeLong.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard employees are aligned on the mindset of “One Mission – One Team”, but like any team, it is only as strong as its weakest link. The People Development Pillar Team plans on making the chain unbreakable.