By Ms. Kari Hawkins (AMC)July 19, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Army Materiel Command's commitment to ensuring its civilian employees are trained to support the mission and lead in the workplace has transitioned a new series of classroom instruction to Redstone Arsenal.
Recently, AMC Headquarters brought the Civilian Enterprise System to Redstone to provide advanced leadership training to more than 30 employees. While most CES classes are taught at training facilities at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the significant concentration of civilian employees at Redstone justifies making the training local, said Roz Barbee, director of Training for AMC G-1 (Human Resources).
"We want our workforce to grow smarter, better leaders," Barbee said. "Even when the work/life balance makes it difficult to be away for a long period of time, it is important that our employees get the training they need to be better leaders for the Army, to develop their soft skills and technical management skills, and to progress further in their career with AMC."
Although most employees will continue to travel to Fort Leavenworth for CES training, AMC HR is working to ensure the three-week intermediate course and the four-week advanced course are offered at Redstone at least once a year.
"The mobile education teams are established to facilitate work/life balance for those civilian careerists who, because of family situations and other concerns, can't get away for a period of three or four weeks," Barbee said.
"The pool of civilians is there for these classes. For the Advanced Course we just offered, we had more than 100 candidates from AMC commands at Redstone. We also opened it up to other tenants at Redstone so that we would have diversity in the organizations represented."
CES courses offered at Redstone particularly appeal to AMC employees like Tiffany Tiller, who is a single parent and a caretaker for her aging parents.
"Leaving my home life for a month would have been very stressful for me," Tiller said. "It would have been difficult to make arrangements for the care of my child and I would have not been able to physically visit with my aging parents in the evenings. It's important to me to be successful at my job, but it's even more important for me to be the caretaker that my family needs."
The opportunity to take the CES course at Redstone was convenient for AMC employee Richard Brown's schedule, allowing him to remain active in his day-to-day activities at home while also working to advance his career.
"If you stay in civil service, then you need to take these courses," Brown said. "CES helps you to prepare for the next step in your career while also being an eye opener at your current level. The class enlightened me to understand that you cannot avoid conflict in the work place. Not every employee is the same, so there will be some conflict. But, there are ways to manage conflict to turn it into critical success. That's a lesson I can use now and wherever my career takes me."
Although a limited number of CES classes will be offered at Redstone, Barbee emphasized, the priority is to get AMC employees to travel to Fort Leavenworth to take CES courses.
"Going to the main campus provides the opportunity to learn within a classroom that represents a very diverse workforce from across the Army," she said. "It's a much better environment for non-attribution discussion. When you teach locally to employees who are basically from the same workforce, you can lose that diversity and non-attribution. With localized classes, you have more of a chance for group think and less opportunity for open discussion."
But, in the case of employees who are less inclined to travel due to family, community or other obligations, local classes provide them with opportunities to further develop their leadership skills without leaving home.
"Mobilized teams promote attending these classes," Barbee said. "That is important in developing our employees for leadership.
"When you have employees who are willing to take the class if it's offered at Redstone, it's like an epiphany for the employee because they are being given time away from their work environment to focus on their leadership competencies but they can return home at the end of the day."
There is also a financial consideration to offering the CES classes at Redstone. It costs about $5,500 to send an employee to Fort Leavenworth, with funding from a central allocation paid for with Army funds. When a class is offered at Redstone or anywhere else outside Fort Leavenworth, the $30,000 cost for the mobile class is usually funded by the command that requested the class.
"It is highly competitive to get into a CES class and especially to get into one at Redstone Arsenal, and there is no guarantee that we will have these classes here. It is decided on a year-to-year basis," Barbee said.
For fiscal year 2020, AMC has asked the Army to fund one intermediate and one advanced CES course at Redstone Arsenal. Tiller and Brown hope AMC employees take advantage of this training opportunity.
"CES has taught me how to continue to be an adaptive leader, teacher and trainer, and how to be a team player at every level. I want to use what I learned to pursue opportunities for personal and professional growth and development, and to ultimately be the change I want to see," Tiller said.
Brown, who is a military retiree with 13 years of civilian service at AMC, is convinced the CES classes are valuable to all AMC employees.
"There is always something to gain. The class teaches you different ways to motivate employees, how to be a more active listener and gives you an increased awareness of the importance of caring for your co-workers and those who work for you," Brown said.
Regardless of whether AMC employees travel to Fort Leavenworth or stay at Redstone for their CES class, they will return to AMC a better trained and qualified employee leader.
Those employees who are willing to attend CES help to define the motivated careerists who want to pursue future leader development programs and future leader opportunities," Barbee said.