10 January 2019
The Relationship Between New Officers and Their Chiefs
When officers get newly commissioned, they’re referred to as “green”. This means they are put on a ship with no active experience. This means that they have to learn to work with their senior enlisted comrades, or their chiefs. This is important because the chiefs have worked their way up from the bottom of the totem pole. They’ve done all of the hard and dirty work, and they’ve earned their way to where they are. So it’s important for the newly commissioned officers to listen to their enlisted counterparts and spend the first several months actively listening and paying attention. As the United States Naval Institution website describes in a more personal account of a relationship between a new officer and an experienced enlisted, the chiefs know that their superior is an enlisted. There is no need to puff out your chest and pull rank for the first couple months, as instead you could be focusing on trying to learn your job and role better. It’s quoted “the junior officer/chief relationship is a fragile partnership, and it needs constant maintenance. It should be open and frank, without egos and/or rank into the conversation. Trust me, the chief knows you are the officer.” This just reinforces the fact that the officer’s job isn’t to bully people into getting what he wants, it is to complete their task/job in the most efficient way possible without conflict with comrades. A chief who spoke on the matter once said: “We have two ears and one mouth so I also ask them to listen twice as much as they speak. For the first three to six months on board, they should consider themselves to be in a learning mode.” This speaks a lot to me because it shows how much chiefs need the junior officer to pay attention and learn as much as they can without allowing ego to cloud judgment. The chiefs are the backbone of the navy. They are the most experienced and hard working, because those are the qualities that you have to possess to make it that far. Millennials are the generation is the new generation entering the navy, and they don’t react to screaming or micro managing. They’re becoming more educated, and they only wish for an officer to let them show their full potential as chiefs and allow them to show and guide using their wisdom they have gained through staying in the Navy for many years.
I feel that even though the strategy of relying on your chiefs, your more experienced inferiors, isn’t always applicable in life. For example, important jobs such as parenting cannot rely upon those they are guiding and leading, because they are the ones that have to part with their wisdom. The principle that junior officers need to work closely with their chiefs, and experienced inferiors is based upon just that; the chiefs are experienced and hard working, but they did not try to become an officer. The President has to rely on his Cabinet and his Security Council to make decisions on important affairs, managers of fast food restaurants have to rely upon their workers, and doctors have to rely upon their nurses to take care of the patients and keep them armed with the tools they need for surgery. The principle of relying on people below your pay grade is universal throughout the different industries, and it is important to take note of when coming into a new environment inexperienced.