Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Overview of Coast Guard Maintenance and Logistics Command Atlantic Fiscal Year 2008 Unit Leadership Development Program Focus Groups

Overview
 
During the early part of FY06, the ULDP committee conducted focus groups which included the gathering of both quantitative and qualitative data from a representative sampling of two dozen MLCA staff members. During the latter part of FY08, focus groups were again completed, this time with 21 staff members.
 
Results
 
The results from the FY06 focus groups were reported here: http://tinyurl.com/mlcafy06. Those survey questions which had the strongest support fell into two leadership competencies: “Self awareness and learning” and “Technical proficiency;” the weakest support was in the competencies of “Conflict management” and “Vision development and implementation.” Two themes became apparent in the analysis of the qualitative data, a stated desire to have answers and to be kept informed during periods of rapid change and a desire for conflict management and resolution within the workplace.
 
The results from the FY08 focus groups provide a much different pictures. Those survey questions which had the strongest support fell into four leadership competencies: “Accountablity and responsibility,” “Technical proficiency,” “Taking care of people,” and “Creativity and innovation.” The weakest support was in the competencies of “Management and process improvement” and “Vision development and implementation.” The greatest theme which was apparent across the focus group was, again, desire to have answers and to be kept informed during periods of rapid change.
 
One important note must be raised when looking at these FY08 results. The members of the focus group acknowledged much improvement in terms of vision devopment and implementation by theh MLCA senior leadership, but that work has been overshadowed by the Coast Guard’s modernization efforts.
 
Comparative Analysis of Weaknesses Identified in Fiscal Year 2006
 
When looking at the questions which provide input to the leadership competency of Conflict Management, it is clear that positive movement has certainly been made. The questions “People at my unit are comfortable bringing up controversial issues” and “Members of my unit minimize conflict by building strong work relationships with each other” both had much stronger agreement in the FY08 focus group than in the FY06 group. In FY08, both of these questions has better than 80% agreement. While this was not the 95% or higher agreement seen in the strongest FY08 questions, it is certainly a step in the correct direction.
 
Recommendations
 
Nearly every weakness revealed in the FY08 focus groups can be traced back to the Coast Guard’s modernization efforts. Certainly, the MLCA staff is crying out for additional answers to modernization, particularly as it relates not just to their own billets, but to the work of their teams, natural work groups, and divisions. Specific implementations to address this issue must include the develop and implementation of a comprehensive communication plan; a component of this initiative ought to be face time for segments of the staff with the commander and deputy commander.
 
Question Summary
 
FY06 Strongest questions:
  • I am given opportunities to improve my skills in my unit.
  • I have a safe workplace.
  • Supervisor/team leaders support members efforts to continue education after work.
  • The people I work with demonstrate technical expertise in their areas of responsibility.
FY06 Weakest questions/greatest opportunities for improvement:
  • People at my unit are comfortable bringing up controversial issues.
  • Supervisors let members know how their work contributes to the unit's mission and goals.
  • Members of the my unit minimize conflict by building strong work relationships with each other.
  • My unit has an inspiring, long-term vision that is clearly communicated, widely shared, and understand.
FY08 Strongest questions:
  • My supervisor/team leader recognizes and rewards good performance.
  • My supervisor asks for my opinions and input.
  • Supervisor/team leaders support members efforts to continue education after work.
  • The members at my unit are encouraged to explore alternative solutions to problems.
  • I am held accountable for my actions.
  • The people I work with cooperate and work as a team to accomplish the mission.
  • The people I work with demonstrate technical expertise in their areas of responsibility.
  • My supervisor motivates me to perform by directing, delegating, coaching, and mentoring as the situation requires.
  • The people I work for create an environment that supports diversity, fairness, dignity and compassion
FY08 Weakest questions/greatest opportunities for improvement:
  • I receive adequate mission-relevant info to do my job.
  • My unit follows a work schedule/plan to accomplish a task or mission.
  • New members receive adequate orientation to the unit.
  • My unit has an inspiring, long-term vision that is clearly communicated, widely shared, and understand.