Monday, March 31, 2014
Conflict Management: Resolving Issues at the Lowest Level
I can’t say it enough: your hard work and professionalism shines in every job you do. Carrying the burden of balancing family responsibilities, civilian career and your service can be extremely challenging and stressful, yet you are unwavering in your commitment and continue to amaze me and make me very proud. But, if you’re having issues with another Shipmate’s treatment, or behavior toward you or others, don’t let that add to your stress. Know that your leadership has the authority, experience and my support to address problems as they occur. So this month I want to stress the importance of using your chain of command to resolve issues at the lowest level possible.
All too often, we find out that if a Sailor with a grievance had used their chain of command as the first means toward conflict resolution, the problem could have been dealt with satisfactorily and swiftly. But effective problem resolution can only happen when the command is aware there’s a problem and they are given all the information.
While part of the burden lies with the Sailor to use the chain of command, the other part rests on leadership to encourage open communication and feedback. If you’re in a leadership position, it is important for you to communicate down to the deckplates the commitment the chain of command has to resolving issues when they arise. Honesty across the board, even if the message is undesirable, allows leadership and their Sailors assigned to identify and resolve potential issues as they arise.
Of course, for the few issues that can’t be resolved using the chain of command, the Office of Inspector General (IG) is in place to address allegations of gross fraud, waste, and mismanagement. However, a majority of complaints to CNRF IG would have been better and more quickly resolved though established processes using the chain of command. Every service member has the right to talk to the IG and CNRF IG is committed to helping Sailors resolve their concerns, to include educating them on the resources available to them.
If you’re struggling to resolve a conflict within your unit or command, talk to your leadership or your mentor. Let them listen, provide valuable guidance, and empower you with the tools to aide you in resolving your conflict. To keep our Force strong and effective, from the CO to the LPO, you must take care of your people. And to that end, remind yourself to listen and approach each day and situation with honor and professionalism so your Sailors know that they can approach you with an issue and trust you’re there for them.
As always, I appreciate all you do. Keep up the good work!