Handbook helps train and retain

Published on CMDR Chloe Griggs (author), AB Jessica Whelan (photographer)

Topic(s): Retention, NEXT Generation Navy

Leading Seaman Daniel Williams is presented with his Divisional Handbook by Command Warrant Officer HMAS Kuttabul WO Mark Cooper, at his promotion ceremony. (photo: )
Leading Seaman Daniel Williams is presented with his Divisional Handbook by Command Warrant Officer HMAS Kuttabul WO Mark Cooper, at his promotion ceremony.

One of the things that sets the Navy apart from other employers is the sense of belonging that comes from a life in service. That connection is borne out of shared experiences, but also from a fundamental tenet, that to get the best out of a team, a manager has to care about the members in it.

Released across the Navy in July, the Next Generation Divisional Handbook revises and refreshes traditional approaches to managing the welfare of personnel, bringing a contemporary approach that asks the reader to link the individual to the strategic aims of the service.

The man responsible for driving Navy’s retention initiatives, Captain Phillip Henry said while various iterations of a divisional handbook had been released over the decades, this was the first that contextualised support to Navy people as an essential part of a capable fighting force.

“If we look after the individual well, through knowing where we can provide support, then people want to continue to serve,” he said.

“This handbook helps us all deliver a high performance culture, as it highlights the benefits of investing in each other.”

To ensure Navy people understand their role in supporting teammates, there is an organisational structure, and an ethos imbued in leaders at all levels, called the ‘divisional system’ - that requires a holistic view to assist people to achieve their best.

The system assists leaders with framing discussions and development opportunities in areas such as wellbeing, quality of life, positive work culture, professionalism, performance and reward and recognition.

The new handbook provides scenario based examples with potential solutions to assist the less experienced, and quick guides and places to seek further assistance for the more challenging personnel situations.

Putting the focus squarely on delivering capability through Navy’s people, training on helping others overcome challenges and reach their potential is given to personnel very early in their careers. For divisional staff at all levels, the updated handbook has provided a reminder that wellbeing is a force multiplier through allowing people greater focus on their work.

Warrant Officer Mark Cooper, Command Warrant Officer at HMAS Kuttabul, said that the new format reinforced the values and behaviours required for success.

“It’s great to have tips on what ‘good divisional support’ looks like, whilst reminding those of us with more experience where we can currently seek assistance for our team,” he said.

“Helping each other resolve personal issues quickly and find pathways to develop our skills is what makes the organisation one that keeps people.”

Sailors traditionally take on roles in the system as leading seamen and officers are expected to understudy from their first roles after initial training. The book is presented to graduates of the Leading Seaman Promotion Course and at promotion ceremonies in recognition of the transition to roles of greater responsibility.

For those in the Navy, a copy can be found by searching for ‘Next Generation Divisional Handbook’ on the DRN.