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Inaugural supervisors conference sheds new light on leadership fundamentals

Sea Services Weekly   August 23, 2002

Supervisors and potential supervisors learned new skills and leadership styles this week at the inaugural Supervisors Conference presented by the Human Resources Service Center, Northwest (HRSC-NW).

Participants attended various workshops facilitated by experts in the fields of human resources, stress management and organizational planning.

NDW Commandant Rear Adm. Christopher E. Weaver welcomed the attendees of this year's conference with some inspirational thoughts,

"I think of civilian and military human resources as one piece of cloth," Weaver stated.

Now's workforce is 80 percent civilian and Weaver emphasized the need for military and civilian personnel to work together.

"The success of this conference will be how much you interact," Weaver addressed the audience. He continued, "Like a lending library, don't take something without giving something back. This conference will only be valuable if you take what you learn here back with you and put it to good use."

Progressive Success Corporation, a management consulting and business training corporation offered the following work shops: How to be a Supervisor, Strengthening Morale During Times of Trauma, Dealing with Negative Attitudes and Making Knowledge Work For You.

Dr. Cynthia Pace, an expert in leadership, presented the workshop on How to be a Supervisor. "The old way of leading people doesn't work in today's environment," she said, referring to the mentality of "This is the way it's done, I said to do it, so go do it."

Pace explained the new model of thinking. "Today you must get to know those who work for you, observe their behavior in the office and see where they are coming from." She said the more you know about others you work with, the easier it is to form a cohesive team and have a positive work environment.

Pace mentioned several situations she has seen where a worker was offered a better position with more money and benefits, but they choose to stay where they are. Why? "Because they love, love, love their job," she stated.

Pace also said the emphasis today is on investing in human capital, investing time and energy in the employees that work for you.

Ed Bonarrigo, program manager with NDW's Business Office, thinks the success of the conference will depend on future actions of those in supervisory positions.  "If the supervisors take what they learn back with them, it could be very beneficial," Bonarrigo said.

Deputy Director of HRSC-NW Julie Herling is pleased with the terrific participation in this first east-coast conference. "It's been a very positive experience and it has shown us the continuing need to have more supervisor's courses," she stated.

Terri Huddleston, HRSC-NW training department head, is glad to have the opportunity to spread the word about the center. "We wanted to demonstrate our capabilities and this has been a good turn out. We can conduct classes anywhere. This conference offered renewal and refreshment for our managers and supervisors and a great chance for them to network," commented Huddleston.

In addition to all the valuable information the attendees absorbed during the conference, the facilitators also gained important feedback.

"The supervisors here have some very interesting issues. They're concerned about their employees who may not be performing well. They're seeking what steps they can take to resolve the issues," said Calvin Swartz, president of Progressive Success Corporation.

Mark Gorkin, also known as "The Stress Doc, highlighted the importance of incorporating humor into the work environment. "It's easier to acknowledge problems and frustrations when you turn them into something fun and creative," he said.

Gorkin is an experienced psychotherapist and is America Online's "Online Psychohumorist." He offers many tools to deal with stress on his Web site www.stressdoc.com.

Gorkin also emphasized the importance of counseling before problems get out of hand. "We should support employee counseling. From time to time we all need support; a counselor or a coach. With cell phones and pagers it's becoming harder and harder to make the distinction between work and home," he stated.

HRSC-NW provides services for approximately 32,000 Navy employees located on both the east and west coast and offers courses in communication and interpersonal skills, career planning and development and various supervisory and managerial courses, to name a few. To learn more about HRSC-NW and the courses they offer, visit their Web site at www.donhr.navy.mil.