Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Next Assignment

The Commander Assignment Panel met last week, before DC got snowed in. The 
list is out, so it's pretty official. My next assignment is in the Office of 
Cutter Forces (CG-751) at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC. I'll be 
working on policy development and budget justification for the major cutter 

Now, despite the fact that this job was not one that I asked for (more on that 
in a sec), I am excited and thrilled to be going there. Don't let anyone tell 
you that HQ is boring or there's not good jobs there. A job is what you make 
of it -- and I have Plans. I have the opportunity to influence the lives and 
jobs of the people I'm closest to in this organization...boat people (more 
officially known as Cuttermen). If I don't do something good with this job, 
it's my own damn fault, not for lack of opportunity in the job.

One of the things that I think I'm going to have to remember on a daily basis, 
going to HQ directly from an operational unit, is that progress does move more 
slowly there. On the ship, I'm used to things happening fastfastfastfast. At 
HQ, I need to be prepared for them to move at what feels like a glacier's 
pace. But there are good reasons for that -- policy change can have unintended 
consequences, political ramifications, budget-based excuses, and/or just be 
plain bad ideas. The HQ review process is intended to protect us as an 
organization against those negative outcomes. And at least I know going in 
that things, even stupendously good ideas, can take a while. I know the 
building and how it works, and I'm looking forward to working with some great 
people I met while I was there last time around. I'll get the opportunity to 
refine one of my up-and-coming leadership pro dev topics: how to effectively 
run a meeting.

About getting a job that I didn't exactly ask Assignment Officer was 
generous with his time and offered me the explanation below. He also called me 
a couple of weeks before and asked what my thoughts were on a couple of jobs 
that weren't on my e-resume, including the job I got. I told him a few things: 
first, I learned long ago not to ask for something I didn't really want; 
second, what I make of any job is up to me -- if I think it's a shitty job, 
I'll make it into a shitty job and if I think it's a great job, it has the 
potential to be the best job of my career; third, they're called "orders" for 
a reason -- I'll go where the Coast Guard needs me to go. But I did struggle 
with how to talk to the junior officers onboard about it. Not getting a job on 
my e-resume doesn't quite fit into the narrative I've built for them about 
"work hard, get great OERs, and that's the best way to get the jobs you want."

Here's the response I got back:
This is a great example of where service need can
often times trump the desires of even the highest performers.  I do the very
best I can to accommodate cuttermen competing for a variety of assignments -
especially those outside of the afloat community in special assignments,
OCONUS and joint positions.  These are great opportunities for each member
and are great for the afloat community at large.  That said, I also need to
ensure cutter support/staff assignments at the headquarters and area level
are filled with well qualified officers as well.  Generally speaking, most
cuttermen due for staff are not always seeking this assignments.  I lose
many senior cuttermen for opportunities like Senior Service School, special
assignments, assignments in officer's secondary specialties where they are
needed when not afloat, etc.  Working alongside the commands on the cutter
forces staff positions, I make a concerted effort to ensure those officers
who continue to perform well in these staff positions are rewarded for their
performance and are able to continue their afloat careers in command or
other command cadre positions.  While this assignment may not be what you
were looking for, I have no doubt it will keep you on track for your long
term goal you mention in your e-resume comments of striving for command
afloat.  I would argue there is no better assignment than the division chief
positions at CG-751 where the service can leverage your most recent
experience as an XO...

In addition to service need like I mention above,  it's based on many other
things like seniority, where you currently are in your career and the next
logistical progression in the career path you've chosen (ie. Being due for
staff or operational assignment).  This was not at all the case with you,
but I see many times where an officer's sense of what is realistic for their
next assignment is not necessarily in alignment with the career path(s) they
have chosen.  That's where early and routine comms with your AO is critical
to make sure you are on the same page and considering the right/realistic
jobs for your next assignment.

I truly appreciate the detailed explanation. In the middle of an insanely busy 
week, he took the time to provide me thoughtful feedback, and thoroughly 
answered my request for help.

Am I a little disappointed I didn't get to go play in Europe or sunny SoCal? 
Sure, but if I overlook the opportunities in this next job -- that's ALL on 
me. Now...bring me that horizon!

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

1 comment:

JulieAnn said...

The CG is lucky to have you.