Anywhere there is work, there is a need for resources. Construction workers need blueprints and materials; warfighters need arms and ammunition; and office professionals need training and office supplies. You get the idea—if you want to do a job, you need to have ready access to the right information and materials.
Supervisors of Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW) professionals have quite a number of resources at their fingertips on the website of the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center’s Army Director, Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office—but information specifically for them is listed in many different places. That’s why the folks in the Army DACM Office are developing a supervisor readiness portal on the DACM Office website that compiles information, guides and other resources into a one-stop shop for supervisors of AAW professionals.
“Supervisor readiness is one of the top-priority strategic initiatives with regard to the AAW HCSP [Human Capital Strategic Plan], specifically in Goal 4, which is employee engagement,” said Norm Hilton, chief of the AAW Engagement Branch within the Army DACM Office. Goal 4 specifically is focused on improving AAW engagement to advance a sense of purpose, dedication, persistence, effort and commitment to the acquisition mission, the organization and the acquisition profession. Hilton and the AAW Human Capital Strategic Plan Council want to know what will best help supervisors provide solid career and leader development advice to AAW professionals. To find out what that is, Hilton stood up an integrated product team (IPT), which identified subject advisers outside of the Army DACM Office who can provide advice and guidance from organizations across the acquisition enterprise.
“That IPT gets after what are the things we want to develop and provide to supervisors of acquisition workforce members: What are the kinds of tools that we want to have readily available to better help them manage their workforce?” Hilton said.
The IPT is staffed with civilian and military professionals from across the AAW, “so we have a pretty experienced group of folks, a pretty senior group of folks” ensuring that the portal contains useful supervisory information, said Gary McKenna, an acquisition career manager with the Army DACM Office and the IPT lead.
ACCORDING TO PLAN
If you’re not familiar with the AAW Human Capital Strategic Plan, its intent is to provide a commitment to the acquisition profession by supporting every acquisition professional, from recruitment to retirement, with the tools and systems, effective communication products and personnel support they’ll need. Supervisor readiness, or Goal 4.2a within the plan, further educates supervisors on current acquisition practices, improves communication and engagement between supervisors and members, and enhances AAW professional development.
The goal of Hilton and his team is to have a supervisor’s corner on the website in 2020. It will feature helpful links, articles and a quick reference guide to many different things, such as how to write an individual development plan, how to support the accumulation of continuous learning points and how to conduct a senior rater potential evaluation. These evaluations in particular generate a lot of questions from the field, Hilton said—specifically from supervisors asking about the process and how to use it. The quick reference guide will help to explain that process.
However, Hilton emphasized that the point of the portal is not to teach supervisors. “We’re not trying to teach our leaders,” he said. The intent is to equip supervisors of acquisition professionals with the tools and resources they may need during their tenure. The Army DACM Office may develop targeted training later, but that’s a goal one or two years down the road.
“The Army already provides supervisor courses for individuals. But we are talking about, at some point, developing or piloting a course for supervisors of acquisition professionals. Whether that’s a 1 ½- or a two-day type of course, it would be a supervisor 101 type of deal, where they can go in and get all of the training and development required of a supervisor of acquisition professionals,” Hilton said.
INFORMATION FOR SUCCESS
The information portal will also be a place to house tips, tricks and reminders for supervisors. “I envision a monthly article” that might explain organizational acquisition points of contact, acquisition career management advocates or reminders about upcoming senior rater potential evaluations, McKenna said. “I could see an article on the portal saying: ‘Hey, supervisors, it’s not too late, you need to start reviewing your IDPs, your individual development plans, to make sure your supervisor chain is aligned correctly’ and all the rest of it, instead of crunching in September when [the evaluation] is about to execute.”
Above all, the portal will “provide supervisors with the information they need to better manage their employees and better communicate with their employees,” McKenna said. Giving supervisors access to the right resources when they need them is important. Hilton and McKenna believe this portal will not only enhance supervisors’ skills, but also will ultimately enhance the relationship between supervisor and the AAW professional.
JACQUELINE M. HAMES is an editor with Army AL&T magazine. She holds a B.A. in creative writing from Christopher Newport University. She has more than 12 years of experience writing and editing news and feature articles for publication.
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