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Page Title: Preventing Mistakes
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The  “plodder”  has  shown  unusual  initiative. Recognition may be the incentive needed to pull that person out of a rut. The capable, dependable member always does a good   job.   Recognition   communicates   your awareness  of  and  your  appreciation  for  that person’s  performance. For whatever reason recognition is given, it must be honest. The member usually knows when performance has been satisfactory and when it has not. Regardless of whether the job is good or bad, say so. If for some reason it happens to be bad, say why. Indiscriminate flattery can be as bad as no recognition. After all, if the member gets a pat on the back for every job—good or bad—where is the incentive to do a good job? PREVENTING  MISTAKES Improving  teamwork  as  a  supervisor  involves helping  team  members  avoid  mistakes  without interfering with their performance. One way to help prevent mistakes is to make a constant check of every job as it is being done. A better way is to assign members to jobs only after you feel they are capable of doing the work.   Then   check   completed   work   as   a   regular procedure, and make sure members know that you check it. That will enable you to detect any errors so that you can reintroduce policies and procedures needed to help members avoid carelessness. Earlier  in  this  chapter,  we  discussed  how  PN1 Seaman  demonstrated  this  type  of  supervision  in  the example of the expired ID card. He did not interfere as his coworkers tackled the problem and identified the cause. When he saw that the best solution had not been found,  he  gave  PN3  Doe  an  opportunity  to  ask  for advice. If he had not asked, PN1 Seaman could then have  suggested  the  possibility  of  a  message.  As important as his solution was to ET2 Door, his tact in handling the situation was even more important to the team. In no way did he belittle what the team had done, and he used a work situation as a training opportunity. Here  is  another  example  of  supervision  that improved   teamwork   without   interfering   with performance. A group of PNs were receiving training as interviewers. As a final part of the interviewers’ training, they  conducted  actual  interviews  at  a  recruit  training command.  They  conducted  the  interviews  in  small interview booths with only the recruit and the trainee present.   The   supervisor   monitored   the   trainees’ performance through a concealed microphone in the interview booth. The interview validity was not affected since the recruit was not aware of the monitoring. If a trainee  did  not  perform  an  interview  properly,  the supervisor  casually  entered  the  booth  and  made  a plausible  excuse  to  consult  the  interviewer.  The supervisor then sent the recruit out for a 5-minute break and, while the recruit was out, made suggestions to the interviewer  for  improving  the  interview  technique. Supervisory  responsibility  is  inherent  as  portrayed by your rating badge. The higher the rate, the greater the responsibility. You don’t gain this responsibility by only pointing out mistakes. You must do much more. You must be available for advice or to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Members  often  make  mistakes  and  errors  in judgment  because  they  want  to  avoid  the  displeasure  or sarcasm some seniors display when asked for help. When that happens, who is at fault? But beyond fault, who is the loser when a mistake is made? Although the senior is at fault, the entire team suffers. Consider the following   example: MSSN Doe is fixing spaghetti sauce for the noon meal. Everything is coming along fine until he starts to add the seasoning. The recipe card is smudged and all he can read is: Pepper, cayenne 2 T. Does that “T” mean teaspoon or tablespoon? He starts to ask the watch captain, then hesitates. The last time he asked for help, he received several pointed remarks about his ancestry. In the end, the question still went unanswered. Looking back at the card, he mumbles to himself, “That’s a fairly large batch of sauce, and a teaspoon is pretty small-it must be a tablespoon.” MSSN  Doe  finishes  the  sauce,  and  the  sauce finishes the crew—no doubt that he should have used a teaspoon. MEETING TRAINING NEEDS In  trying  to  improve  teamwork,  supervisors  often substitute  criticism  for  proper  training.  Criticism  is  a reflection of poor supervision and usually results in unfair treatment of team members. A better way to improve  teamwork  is  through  training.  The  excuse  “We don’t have time for a training program” is not valid. If the contact point is that busy, you can’t afford not to train. We  will  not  go  into  methods  and  techniques  of training; adequate materials are available on these topics. Rather, we will offer some ideas that you can use in the informal training situation. 4-8

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