SECNAV: Navy is ‘Game On’ in a War for Talent
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
WASHINGTON — The secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) said the service is in high competition with other services and the private sector to secure the talented personnel in need to conduct warfare in the modern age.
Speaking March 12, along with the secretaries of the Army and Air Force, to an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said the Navy and Marine Corps are in a “real war for talent” in a tough recruiting and retention environment.
“It’s ‘game on’ right now,” Spencer said. “The Navy, the Army, Air Force and the [Pentagon] are in a talent war and we are going to have to compete with every single tool we have.”
Spencer said that one tool, the new blended retirement system, is a benefit that is “going to draw people into the service. But what are we going to have to deal with DOPMA [the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act]. We’re going to have to find ways to get on- and off-ramps for people. We might actually want it in cyber. We might want you in for three years and then go back into the community and get refreshed and come back in.”
Spencer also noted that such a revision might “open us to competition from the outside. But that’s where game is on. We have to start thinking smarter as managers and providing tools and solutions to retain the best and the brightest.”
Under a “banner of urgency,” Spencer listed people first in his list of priorities on building readiness and lethality, the others being process and capabilities.
In the war for talent, he said, “the [other service secretaries] fish from the same pool, and we’re all going to be looking for more people to do more things in a more intelligent manner. Depending on what article you read, the number of potential applicants that would successfully qualify for our services ranges somewhere from 25 to 30 percent. People are going to have to come in, No. 1, and we’re going to have to figure out a way to adopt and adapt and keep those people that we have.”
Spencer the Navy is trying to “reset the culture,” but the service still has to “do the most with what we have.”
The culture shift he is looking for is “if you see a problem, fix the problem. The best person who has the solution to any problem is the person facing off that problem.
“Culture eats strategy for lunch,” he said. “You really do have to get after the culture if, in fact, you’re going to move the needle in an organization, and the way we’ve had the best amount of traction is holding up poster children of success.”