HEADQUARTERS, NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Job rotations can increase retention, bolster employee motivation and satisfaction, and enhance skills and experience in an increasingly competitive workplace.
Participants in NAVAIR’s Leadership Development Program are required to go on six-month job rotations to cross-train, network and gain a greater perspective of NAVAIR as a command.
Christie Agamaite, chief engineer of the Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) Program and an NLDP participant set to graduate in 2019, knows this firsthand after she recently took on a new job through her rotation.
“Throughout my career, I have never tried program management, so I wanted to gain that experience,” she explained, “and I never had done a startup acquisition program, so I wanted a pre-milestone B experience. I researched many different programs and met with several program managers. I liked NGJ-LB because they were doing things differently.”
She started out rotating as a program manager for Airborne Electronic Attack Systems and EA-6B, also known as PMA-234, the NGJ-LB program. Near the end of her rotation, the chief engineer position opened up, and she applied.
Agamaite, formerly a division director in the Avionics Department (AIR 4.5), said she enjoyed learning new skills to round out her experience base.
“I really enjoyed working in the program office,” she said. “I had been in the competency doing supervisory duties for eight years, so getting back into a program office experience was one I really enjoyed. I see myself staying in program offices — and I’m not sure where it will lead me — but I want to ride this roller coaster for a while.”
According to NLDP manager Julie Guy, job rotations are key to the NLDP experience.
“Rotations allow participants to get outside of their comfort zone by working in a whole new arena, be it a different competency or a different business unit within or even outside of NAVAIR,” Guy explained. “It is these experiences that help participants develop leadership skills and strategies and prepare them for the leadership challenges they will face as future leaders.”
Agamaite’s primary responsibility includes standing up engineering activities for the program and investigating and implementing tenets of the systems engineering transformation program. The NGJ-LB Program became a new start in 2016 and is currently in the materiel solution analysis phase. It is envisioned this program will be designated an accelerated acquisition program in the near future.
Agamaite said her experiences in NLDP helped prepare her for her new job.
Thanks to the Emergenetics portion of the program — a tool used to analyze individual thinking attributes — “I really understand my personality traits and how others perceive me. I have learned how to flex to other people’s styles and how to figure out what motivates others,” she said. “I expected to gain leadership skills but didn’t expect to learn as much about my own style and how to play off my strengths and work on my weaknesses.”
In one instance, she noticed a quiet, introverted member of her team who did not often contribute to discussions during meetings. Previously, she said she would have called on this person to talk, but after her NLDP training, she realized there were other, better ways to include his input.
Agamaite said she wants NAVAIR employees to know the program opens doors to networking and mentoring.
“I didn’t realize how NLDP is a golden ticket; you can get in with any mentor or SES [Senior Executive Service member] you want,” she said.
Aside from job rotations, NLDP offers classroom training, mentoring, job shadowing and more. NLDP is a three- to five-year program that blends critical leadership learning with productivity learning to better prepare employees for future leadership roles. Seventy percent of NAVAIR’s senior executives graduated from either NLDP or its predecessor.
The NLDP is one of NAVAIR’s several workforce development initiatives.