The use of “up-and-out” has been commonplace in the U.S. Navy, but times are changing and the branch is looking to adjust. Up-and-out culture is far from exclusive to the military. In fact, many consulting firms and other types of businesses apply the method to their organizations. Nevertheless, the Navy’s up-or-out policy, or “high-year tenure” program, is being suspended. The new evolution is providing an opportunity to keep more Sailors who wish to continue their military careers during a time when recruitment is suffering.
What Is An Up-or-Out Method in Management?
Leading management consulting firms follow an implicit “up-or-out” approach, wherein underperformers may exit if promotion expectations aren’t met. These firms, specifically, McKinsey, BCG, and Bain, heavily invest in employee development, offering comprehensive feedback for improvement.
If progress still needs to be improved, consultants may be encouraged to explore alternative opportunities. They address this frequently in semi-annual performance reviews. Despite intense competition, an up-or-out policy can cultivate a mindset of continual improvement, attracting ambitious professionals.
Exposure to this environment enhances both technical and soft skills, rendering consultants from top firms highly sought after in the job market. Ongoing feedback, skill development resources, and colleague support contribute to a positive learning experience.
Even if a consultant chooses to leave, they acquire valuable skills applicable in diverse professional settings. However, while this may be more applicable in a professional, civilian setting, issues can arise when you are talking about the military.
For the military, a Navy Officer facing up-or-out policies can be a bit different. Sailors serving at ranks can be involuntarily discharged or shifted to the Reserves. Now, the service is fully adopting its new “high-year tenure plus” program aiming to avoid pushing Sailors who don’t advance quickly enough, out.
The “High-Year Tenure Plus” Program
The Navy has recently abolished a long-standing program designed to remove low-performing Sailors. This policy shift reflects the Navy’s broader strategy of retaining service members and keeping them at sea.
Previously, Sailors were subject to discharge if they served at their current rank for a limited time without meeting performance expectations. The idea was to improve the ranks while still using a tool to ensure the appropriate retention of personnel.
This meant that if you served as a Sailor at a particular rank without advancing for a certain number of years, you would be separated from the service. However, those receiving promotions could qualify to extend their service.
Keeping top talent is important for any organization, but since December 2022, the Navy has been looking for another way. This would give birth to its new high-year tenure-plus program.
Effectively eliminating the previous Navy Officer’s up-or-out method can help retain more Sailors. But if America’s Fleet is going to maintain proper numbers among its ranks, it’s going to have to do more to bring in fresh recruits as well.
Changing the Up-Or-Out Method Is Not the Only Thing the Navy Is Doing
With Navy Officer up-or-out limits in place, 62 years of age was typically the longest career anyone could hope for. However, it also meant Sailors wishing to reach such illustrious military careers had to do so by constantly advancing. This isn’t always possible.
Now, the U.S. military continues to have a need for more nautical-based warfare, at the same time it can’t get anyone to sign up to defend the country. Over the next two years, the Navy is hoping to help more than 1,500 Sailors with the change.
But this isn’t the only thing the Navy is adjusting. After all, retention efforts are actually working quite well. The same can’t be said for getting in new recruits. This is why they offer additional benefits, compensation, promotions, and other perks.
The Navy is even looking at fitness test requirements to help improve numbers. The last two years have seen the Navy miss recruitment by over 7,000 even while fighting to find volunteers with previously mentioned reforms. It hopes moving from its up-or-out ways is part of the larger overall puzzle to fill its ranks.