NCOIC of the year reveals secrets to success
By Sgt. Jonathan E. Agee
| | November 20, 2002
RECRUITING SUBSTATION PROVIDENCE, RI --
He stands tall and speaks with authority as he initiates Friday's training schedule. His uniform is the model of military perfection, and his devotion to duty is no different. He watches over his Marines like a hawk, anticipating each move and calculating the exact moment where they need improvement. He never misses a beat, and never lets down his level of motivation. His love of recruiting is unconditional, and provides insight to how he became the noncommissioned officer in charge of the year.
Gunnery Sgt. Gregory M. Cramer, Recruiting Substation Providence NCOIC and Miami, Ohio native, has claimed the title 1st Marine Corps District NCOIC of the Year for Fiscal Year 2002 by taking the challenging task of managing recruiters and making it look easy.
During FY-02 Cramer and RSS Providence contracted 168 people and shipped 151 to recruit training. The numbers speak for themselves, but for Cramer recruiting is more than numbers, it is a chance to help someone better themselves and their lives.
"I enjoy doing this, because I enjoy helping kids out," said Cramer. "Giving them a better life than what they have now. It's the passion of wanting to help people out. It's wanting to make a difference in the world. Everybody says God puts you on earth for a cause or a purpose; I feel this is my purpose right here to help people out ... this job I feel is where I can make the biggest impact on society. My motivation to get up everyday is, number one to help out kids, number two help my Marines and commanding officer be successful, and also make the Marine Corps successful."
Cramer's passion for the Marine Corps and recruiting is just one reason why he is so successful as a NCOIC. Another important ingredient in the Cramer recipe for success is training. Cramer puts countless hours into training his Marines so they can succeed in recruiting.
"I think my Marines respond to my training, respond to my leadership style and respond to what they are taught, that's what makes my team successful," said Cramer.
"He expects us to get out there and put qualified young men and women into the Marine Corps," said Staff Sgt. Shane Gilchrest, RSS Providence recruiter. "I have questions for him every day ... in fact he answers most of them before I even get the whole question out. He knows how to work the game."
For Cramer, everyday is training. Whether he is guiding a recruiter one-on-one in his office or he is sitting in on an interview with a new applicant, Cramer is always on the lookout to help his Marines succeed. Friday is the day when all the RSS Providence Marines come together and work on different recruiting methods that will help them on the streets. A majority of the time, Friday training is nothing more than role-playing where the one recruiter plays himself and another plays an applicant.
"I think 90 percent of success comes from training," said Cramer. "It's like any successful organization in the world, sports team, Marine Corps recruiting, anything else, it comes from training and practice. I think practice plays the most important role of all. If you don't practice and train you are never going to perfect it. I watch for the thought process, what the Marines are going to say. When they say something wrong I stop right then and there and correct the action and have them go back and do it again. I feel if you can do a successful role play in front of six of your hardest critics, which is all the Marine recruiters there, you can do it anywhere."
The scenarios are based on real life situations and the recruiters can often expect to see one or two of the training classes unfold later in the day while talking to a new applicant.
For example, the training Cramer conducted one morning in November focused on the applicant saying, "I'm not interested in the Marine Corps, I'm going to college." Cramer said that they would hear that same statement while recruiting and sure enough, later that day a high school student said exactly that, and Cramer's recruiter was prepared.
The goal of the training scenario is not to convince the applicant that college was not a good idea, but rather to open the applicant's mind to the possibilities of how the Marine Corps can help in reaching his or her goals.
Cramer admits that he strives for perfection in everything that he does and he teaches his Marines to do the same. "I tell them I want perfection, because I don't think they will ever achieve it," said Cramer. "But if they miss a step toward perfection then they hit excellence, that's where they are in my eyes."
"Gunny is a very intense Marine," said Sgt. Brent Boulay, RSS Providence recruiter. "He always wants to do the best and he's always pushing to do better and better. He's always trying to work things better so that they are more efficient, so that everything falls into place and it's done right. He's a good strong leader who gets the job done. He is a very determined individual and he wants to make sure he gets the job done and that it is done correctly. He doesn't like to cut corners, he likes it done right, and as long as you do that, everything else falls into place."
Training and learning do not stop with the recruiters; Cramer feels that he learns something new everyday and that enables him to stay on top of the game as a NCOIC.
"My belief is, especially on recruiting duty, is that a lot of things change," said Cramer. "As a leader you're always going to learn. When you think you have learned everything and you think you're at the top of the game and there's nothing else you can learn, it's time to hang your cover up and call it quits. I'm learning something all the time."
Aside from training, Cramer's love of Corps and Marine values also attribute to his success. He is a strong leader and expects his Marines to follow him as he leads them to victory.
"I'm authoritarian; it's my way and that's how its going to be done," said Cramer. "I'm about 85 percent authoritarian 15 percent persuasive. I'm old fashioned. When the boss says something or the gunny says something there is nothing but 'aye-aye.' That's the only answer; there is no if and or buts ... you do what your told to do and if you have questions after you perform that task, then you ask questions. That's the way I was brought up and that's the way I still work ... call it what you want, but I call it success. It's pretty evident."
"He's very motivated, very persistent and his Marines work for him as much as they do because they want to," said Staff Sgt. Michael A. Cianci, RSS Providence assistant NCOIC. "Gunny has the ability to maintain a phenomenal amount of energy and passion everyday. I don't know how he does it, but he does. He wants everybody to be successful, and as a gunnery sergeant of Marines he is going to ensure that happens. He is not one to accept failure. He has one of the strongest work ethics I have ever seen. He's a very driven individual. I never see him rest, I never see him relent. He puts forward what he wants to accomplish and that will be accomplished."
Cramer admits that winning NCOIC of the year has been one of the highlights of his career, but it is not why he works the way he works. He feels that the awards are just a bonus to this duty. He feels that if you work hard, practice and train you will be successful and good things will follow.
"My firm belief is that if you are trying to chase the award, you will never achieve it," said Cramer. "If you just come to work, go to work and do your thing, you will get it. Like Michael Jordan, he never set out to score 50 points a game ... he went out there to play ball. If he thought about scoring 50 points, he would have never done it. He just played the game and wound up winning the games the way he did ... If you chase awards you will lose every time."
"He is very goal orientated," said Sgt. Noe Ramirez, RSS Providence recruiter. "He leads by example and takes care of all the recruiters here. His main goal is to make the CO successful as well as make us successful. He knows the job in and out. Anything that has to do with recruiting he knows about. If we ever have questions, we go in there and ask him. No matter what, he wants to make the CO successful. He pushes us and motivates us and he gets on us like any good leader. He knows when to push you, but when you do something good he gives you praise and recognition."
For the future, Cramer is looking at becoming the assistant recruiter instructor for RS Springfield. If that happens, he feels he will have a better opportunity to train more Marines and continue with the success of RS Springfield.