At the Army Contracting Command-Redstone, professional and career development are being taken to a new level.

While employees throughout the Army are focused on individual development plans and New Beginnings performance reviews, ACC-Redstone has added a third dimension that involves developing employee roadmaps complete with broadening internal assignments, advanced educational opportunities and leadership training.

Known as Deliberate Development, the command initiative is intended to build a plan that is unique to an employee's aspirations, and takes into account their experience, education, abilities, interests, personal situation and future goals.

"Deliberate Development is about engaging employees like never before," said Rebecca Weirick, the executive director for ACC-Redstone.

"It's an extension of other Army programs - the Individual Development Plans and the Army Career Tracker - that are focused on promoting professional and career development. But, Deliberate Development takes these programs further by building a roadmap for each employee that allows them to envision their career's future and the steps they need to take to achieve their future career goals."

Deliberate Development makes both employees and supervisors responsible for determining a roadmap that outlines where the employee wants their career to go, no matter where they are in their career. Deliberate Development helps employees achieve their goals, and provides the organization with more experienced and engaged employees.

"Supervisors are charged with working with each of their employees to build a development plan that is unique to them and that includes the training, education and broadening assignments they need to fill their current and future job responsibilities," Weirick said. "The end result is that ACC-Redstone has employees who are better skilled, more informed and highly motivated to achieve their desired career goals."

Angela Williams, ACC-Redstone's lead Workforce Development specialist, is charged with ensuring that Deliberate Development becomes a conversation topic among ACC-Redstone employees and supervisors.

"Deliberate Development is about supervisors helping their employees perform their best in their current and future job roles," Williams said. "It's about ensuring that employees have the skills and competencies to do their job now and the job they hope to apply for in the future. Deliberate Development better positions employees to achieve their goals."

Deliberate Development aligns with Individual Development Plans and New Beginnings. ACC-Redstone leadership decided to introduce Deliberate Development at the same time that its employees were moving to New Beginnings so they can be integrated together. But Deliberate Development is different from New Beginnings in that it takes an employee roadmap even further by accounting for an employee's family situation, personal life style, interests outside of the workplace and life changing situations that can affect their workplace goals.

"It takes into consideration the work/life balance, which can impede or play a role in achieving goals," Williams said.

ACC-Redstone's Weirick and deputy director John Mayes introduced Deliberate Development to supervisors, and GS-11 and below employees during a series of workshops in August. Those workshops will be held for GS-12 through GS-14 employees in late November.

"Supervisors were brought into the program first so that they can lead the way in discussing Deliberate Development with their employees," Williams said.

"It was important to get the support of supervisors so they can work with their employees and make sure their employees understand the opportunities that exist, the skills and competencies they need to excel in their job position, and all the tools and resources that are now in place to help them develop their career roadmap."

In those discussions, supervisors review with employees the skills and competencies that are required at different grade levels, the responsibilities and skills required by different job positions, and the opportunities employees have to improve their capabilities. Once each employee's New Beginnings quarterly performance discussions are established, Deliberate Development discussions will be incorporated into the conversation.

"New Beginnings assesses performance while Deliberate Development shows employees what is required to move toward their short-term and long-term career goals," Williams said. "If they know where they want to be in 10 years and they know what's required to get there, then they are more likely to achieve those goals."

Employees who benefit the most from Deliberate Development are entry level employees and those who are new to federal service.

"It's important to start this with entry level employees because they will be with us longer, and it's important for them to have an understanding of what's required and to help them envision what their future state will look like," Williams said.

"The employees I've talked with are excited about this opportunity and are looking forward to having discussions with their supervisors about their career goals and their roadmap."

The Deliberate Development roadmap includes technical requirements, leadership training, education certificate requirements and developing or broadening internal assignments. It also can include opportunities offered through various Department of Army leadership and talent management programs.

"If an employee's goal is to be a senior executive service officer, then they need to start applying for broad ranging leadership opportunities," Williams said. "If they want to compete with other employees across the Army for various opportunities, then the roadmap will help them with that."

Although designed more for employees new to federal service, Deliberate Development is also a beneficial tool for senior employees who are at the end of their careers, she said.

"If retirement is in your five-year or 10-year plan, then that should be part of your roadmap," Williams said. "Then, your Deliberate Development roadmap might not have as many external training or development opportunities, but possibly opportunities to move within the organization. It can also include leadership opportunities where the employee can use their skills and competencies to mentor and train more junior employees."

In that way, the Deliberate Development roadmap becomes a bridge between the 20 percent of ACC-Redstone employees who are entry level with less than five years of experience and the larger percentage of the workforce that has less than 10 years to retirement.

"We do have a large percentage of our workforce that are fairly new to federal service," Williams said. "That makes a program like Deliberate Development even more important and relevant because we have to invest in these employees so they can grow in the contracting profession. It is important to give them a targeted, structured approach to achieving their career goals."

Once an employee's roadmap is established, it is up to the employee to take ownership of it and to follow it and change it as they progress in their careers. Although it does not become a permanent part of an employee's record, the Deliberate Development roadmap is a tool used to enhance performance review discussions and to develop professional goals, Williams said.

"Deliberate Development allows employees to take ownership of their careers, it improves communications between supervisors and employees, and it gives both of them the opportunity to talk about how an employees can become a better asset for ACC-Redstone," Williams said.

"In the end, we will have employees with improved skills, broader contracting experience and a commitment to their careers, and a workforce with higher morale and the knowledge that they can grow their careers here at ACC-Redstone."