Looking for some advice from the M-T Nation.

I have a boss who holds daily meetings at 0800. You'd think that meetings held daily wouldn't take so long, but they can drag for 90 minutes or more even with just three people in the room.

Everyone at the command knows that the real problem is the that the Skipper uses this time to tell what we call in the Navy "Sea Stories". Each topic brings out another 15 minutes about how he used to do things 10, 20 or 30 years ago. We're all pretty sure he does this because (as the Commanding Officer) he really doesn't have any one to talk to throughout the day. The hard part is figuring out how to tell him that these meetings are really robbing people of their time without offending him.

ashdenver's picture

Someone just suggested to me that I listen to the peer feedback podcast and while it's primarily recommended for use on peers, M&M do say it's appropriate to use (judiciously) with bosses.

"When your daily meetings run past 0830, the rest of our work falls behind and we ultimately end up behind the eight ball by the end of the week."

*two cents* (as I'm not really qualified to offer up the principles of the podcast just yet!)

Short of that, I'd try scheduling other meetings at 0830 and 0900 a couple of times a week and give him a heads-up beforehand: "Hey boss, on Wednesday, I'll need to cut out at 0830 as it's the only time Bob from Marketing had open." The more real-work things that come up, the more likely he is to see that the 90 min things are cutting into the business of actually doing business.

As far as I'm concerned, no meeting should ever take more than 30 mins. Period.

hmcwheeler's picture

We're trying some of those things. Particulalrly scheduling other things right at 0900. That effort is still new, so despite limited success I think we will keep it up.

The hardest part is I don't actually go to the meetings, usually just the department heads are required to attend. As a Chief, it's one of my jobs to mentor the junior officers that are stuck in this sea story vortex. Leading from below takes time, but it's rewarding.

jhack's picture

Is is possible to find another way for him to tell his stories? Over a meal, one on one, some other way? If he had another outlet, he might not use this meeting for stories.


hmcwheeler's picture

Good idea John.

I guess we have all thought that, but just never put it into a formal action plan.

bflynn's picture

One other option, you'll have to judge for yourself as to whether its feasible. It would have been at my commands, but personalities of the people involved dictate whether it is at yours.

Ask your command master chief to talk to the XO or the captain about it. What the CO is doing is impacting the work of the rest of the ship. Since it just about takes an act of Congress to bust a master chief, he is the one person on the ship that should be safe and he also doesn't have to worry about making rank any more if the captain takes offense.

Or, you could just count yourself lucky that the officers are out of the way for an hour and you can get some work done. Surely you don't need them present to do work? The junior officers can stand a little time with the old man, if for no other reason than it makes them more aware of how they treat those under them.


hmcwheeler's picture

While it can be nice to have the J.O.'s out of the way sometimes, part of mentoring them is to help them get the "gumption" for lack of a better word to tell the skipper what they think.

asteriskrntt1's picture

If you don't have the gumption to tell the skipper, why would you expect your mentees to have it?

hmcwheeler's picture

The relationship between the Chief and the Junior Officer in the Navy is unique (and pretty interesting).

As an enlisted person the Chief is considered the people who make things happen and the ones who generally looks out for the young Sailors. The term used to describe this is Deckplate Leadership. As a Chief with 14 years of Naval experience I actually fall on the short side of your average Chief as far as time in service go.

The second part of our job is mentor the Junior Officers, who are technically our superiors. These JO's usually have anywhere from 1-5 years of Navy experience. Sometimes they become "yes men" but need to get the "gumption" to stand on their own. It's the job of the Chief to help them. Kinda like Crash Davis in Bull Durham mentoring Nuke Laloosh, for you baseball fans.

bflynn's picture

Doc, if it is hurting your work and you don't feel right doing it yourself (I understand that), ask the CMC or XO to take action. If its just an annoyance, suck it up and get the work done.

If its not clear to those who were never in the military, the relationship between the CO and those under his command is different than anything you'll find in business. Given the highly independent nature of naval command, I think the isolation and power may be even greater than other branches; there are very few restrictions on what a CO can do. Under an especially rotten captain, I have seen a sailor wind up on bread and water for ten day just because the captain was having a bad day (and the sailor didn't have his shirt tucked in). Yes, people like that self destruct; this one did as well. Yes, they do a lot of damage before they go.

Which is all a long winded way of saying that in the Navy, a mere E-7 Chief does not give uninvited feedback to the CO. In any form. If it will do any good I'm afraid it has to come from the Master Chief or the XO or not at all.


hmcwheeler's picture

Thanks for all the feedback.

I didn't mean to give the impression that I work in a terrible organization or anything like that. Just that this was a prticularly sensative subject. All things considered the CO is a pretty decent guy. If this is the worst thing that that happens I count myself lucky.

I guess this post could have taken two tracks. On the one hand we have the issue with the sea stories and on the other hand we have the issue with leading upward. I frequently get a chance to say things that the JO's would never say. My Lietentant told me once that he wishes he could do that, but he chalks it up to me being a Chief. This one needs to come from the wardroom though and they don't know what to do.

Again, thanks for the feedback. I didn't realize how many military members there are on the forum. I'll be needing a job in 6 years....but that's for another post. LOL

Dani Martin's picture
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[quote="ashdenver"]Someone just suggested to me that I listen to the peer feedback podcast and while it's primarily recommended for use on peers, M&M do say it's appropriate to use (judiciously) with bosses.[/quote]

It's my understanding that Mark and Mike have stated several times to never give your manager feedback. The only exception is if your manager is a MT manager and is requesting feedback.

juliahhavener's picture
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I could be looking on with eyes of a Captain's daughter and an enlisted man's wife, but I didn't see anything there saying it's All That Bad.

I do think Brian's right in the who and how areas, though, should the scheduling items not suffice. It is a delicate balance. Let us know how it goes?