FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz.,-Expanding the Army’s combat power continues to be a force-multiplier as organizations like the Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) strive to capitalize on the diversity of its workforce and extend its recruiting efforts to both industry and academia.
For the first time in U.S. history, there are five generations of civilian employees in the workplace.
“The demands of NETCOM’s global operations require a resilient and capable workforce that draws upon the broad range of skills, talents, and experiences that are indispensable to accomplishing our mission across all generations. It is imperative that we ensure we have the ability to recruit and retain the most diverse workforce possible.” said Maj. Gen. Maria B. Barrett, NETCOM Commanding General.
What began a few years ago as a recruitment initiative, has become a larger Civilian Talent Management Program within NETCOM aligned with the Army’s overall civilian human capital strategy.
However, this endeavor did not happen overnight but began a few years ago with the establishment of a pilot intern program designed around NETCOM’s evolving missions.
“Originally, under Maj. Gen. John Baker, former NETCOM commanding general, there were over 100 intern hiring actions for NETCOM worldwide between 2017 and 2018,” said Yonghee Woodall, NETCOM G-5 Deputy Director.
In a span of only a few months NETCOM grew its intern program and established a Civilian Talent Management Program capable of meeting the needs of a growing global mission, which includes protecting the Department of Defense Information Network-Army (DODIN-A) comprised of all the Army’s automated information systems and networks.
“Initially, more than 250 intern positions were authorized since the inception of the pilot program,” said Crystal D. Fetting, NETCOM Career Program Specialist.
According to Andrew Boswell, NETCOM, G-1 Civilian Talent Manager, the intern program is part of a robust recruitment and Civilian Talent Management effort that also supports the Army’s total talent strategy.
“In September 2019, NETCOM formed a Talent Management Working Group consisting of Subject Matter Experts (SME)s from across the organization tasked with providing innovative solutions to recruit, develop, and retain a highly-skilled and engaged civilian workforce,” said Boswell.
“The well-timed release of the Army People Strategy enabled the command to further its Talent Management efforts.”
“Under the direction of the NETCOM G-1, the Working Group produced a Strategic Human Capital Plan (SHCP) that aligns with the Strategic Outcomes identified in the Army People Strategy to Acquire (Recruit), Develop, Employ (Manage), and Retain Talent,” said Boswell.
Mr. Boswell explains how the Talent Management Working Group is harnessing the expertise of multiple directorates and stakeholders within NETCOM to provide program guidance for NETCOM’s competency-based human capital portfolio including management and development of NETCOM’s SHCP, guidance to the Intern Program, and advice and counsel on human capital management initiatives with potential for NETCOM-wide implications.
“Myself and the Line of Effort (LOE) Leads (Ms. Brittany Quinn, NETCOM HR Specialist, Mr. Scott Sparks, HR Development Lead, Ms. Crystal Fetting, Career Program Specialist and Ms. Michelle McCaa, HR Specialist) facilitate and lead the Talent Management Working Group in identifying, developing, and executing key talent management initiatives,” said Boswell.
“Our Working Group meets regularly, on a recurring scheduled basis, where we assess methods, discuss procedures and develop work processes to improve the human capital management portfolio aligned with NETCOM priorities.”
“Likewise, our aim is to provide an inclusive Working Group that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of Human Capital challenges,” said Boswell.
Not only has NETCOM kicked-off a working group to oversee the command’s Talent Management Program but they are also taking a business approach on how stakeholders meticulously track the program’s progress.
“Recently, the Working Group created a Balanced Score Card (BSC) to document and track progress and achievements. The BSC helps serve the dual purpose of providing at-a-glance information needed to inform and brief leadership in order to facilitate decision-making, and it serves as a navigational instrument to maintain targeted focus and achieve specific deliverables,” said Boswell.
As NETCOM strives to realign its recruitment and civilian talent management efforts with technologically savvy employees, the command is engaging its LOEs simultaneously with the help of its working group.
“In addition to conducting regular bi-monthly Working Group meetings, members get work accomplished either through direct interaction or by engaging in online collaboration utilizing SharePoint for workflow and content sharing to contribute to LOE progress,” said Boswell.
Some of the work and efforts currently underway include (under the Recruit LOE), building a robust recruitment and outreach strategy. This includes a comprehensive review of emerging technologies and social media platforms that can potentially support robust recruitment and talent acquisition specific to academia.
Similarly, (under the Develop LOE) stakeholders are partnering with SMEs to develop a competency management framework. On-going work consists of competency model development, ranking for proficiency levels, creation of competency assessments, diagnostics to identify skill gaps, and deployment of recruitment and training solutions that enable NETCOM to close skill gaps.
Additionally, under the (Manage LOE) NETCOM is driving toward a command-funded intern program and talent pipeline of new employees with adept, diverse, and relevant skillsets to meet current and future missions.
Nevertheless, under the (Retain LOE) the Working Group is developing work-life programs, policies, and metrics that capture the benefits, costs, and effects of such programs on retention and workforce productivity.
Collectively the Working Group has laid the groundwork for many of the LOE long-term objectives.
“Some of the most recent milestones met include completion of the Career Program (CP)-34 standardized intern Position Descriptions (PDs), and the communication, coordination, and relationship we are building with the University of Arizona (UofA) Cyber Program Director,” said Quinn.
“The NETCOM Classifier, Ms. Terri Clark, is working with command SMEs to develop standardized intern PDs for the CP-34 and CP-16 series. She completed the CP-34 standardized PDs by coordinating with SMEs and stakeholders on competencies and duties needed across the command, and periodically obtaining input from SMEs and stakeholders on revisions before the finalized PDs were classified,” said Quinn
In addition to the collective efforts of the Working Group, NETCOM has also addressed its training guidance to help guide employee career progression via supervisor training as well.
“The actual training priorities are now communicated to each employee within NETCOM, which will drive the development of future Individual Development Plans (IDP) and ensures that acquired training will provide the most Return on Investment (ROI) for the Command, and aid in meeting strategic goals and objectives,” said Sparks.
“Another important part of the Command training guidance is the requirement for supervisory training. The training requirements are clearly communicated to each supervisor and as a result, this training should increase supervisory skills and enhance relationships with their employees.”
Hence, the Command training guidance will directly feed the Leadership Development objective of the LOE. By communicating the training requirements, the quarterly supervisory training stats will increase as supervisors complete their required training,” said Sparks.
Not only has the Talent Management Working Group succeeded in addressing training guidance but they have also helped develop tools for employees to manage their careers, which also allows NETCOM to retain quality employees.
“Currently, the Working Group is supporting G-6 developers on establishing a Career Talent Management Portal (CTMP) which provides an innovative solution to recruit, develop, maintain and retain a highly skilled and engaged workforce,” said McCaa.
“The portal will also implement a self-nominating tool which is a filtering process for matching internal non-competitive candidate’s skills and talents.”
“The tool is intended for use by hiring Directors, Deputies and/or Managers seeking qualified talent and NETCOM employees who are eligible for non-competitive placement via reassignment, re-promotion eligible or change to lower grade for vacancies throughout the Command. ” said McCaa.
According to McCaa the self-nominating tool also allows non-competitive employees to submit a resume for possible consideration for lateral reassignments to include special projects, pilot programs, potential future assignments, changes to lower grades and re-promotion eligibility.
“Likewise, qualification and eligibility considerations along with priority placement procedures apply to this process,” said McCaa.
McCaa explains, the CTMP will serve as a resource and central repository for initiatives associated with civilian talent management across the enterprise.
“Some of the resources available on the site include a link to USAJOBS where civilian employees can apply for federal jobs.”
“Also available is a link to the Army Career Tracker (ACTS) where employees are able to complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and use it as a tool to reach their personal and professional goals,” said McCaa.
Besides improving the retention of its workforce, NETCOM is also working to streamline its recruiting efforts.
“Through the Civilian Talent Management Portfolio, NETCOM hopes to provide Outreach Programs that will build coalitions internally, with academia, and with other federal agencies and private sector organizations to achieve common goals,” said Boswell.
“This initiative will allow current students in high school, college, trade school and other qualifying educational institutions with paid opportunities to work as NETCOM civilians and explore NETCOM careers while completing their education.”
“These programs will be offering full-time employment opportunities for working in 2-year permanent developmental positions to entry-level recent graduates that qualify,” said Boswell.
Ultimately, NETCOM’s Talent Management efforts are supporting the Army’s most recent IT workforce initiative known as Project Quantum Leap according to Maj. Gen. Barrett.
“The Office of the Army Chief Information Officer (CIO) has implemented a pilot program known as Quantum Leap to retrain approximately one thousand civilian employees Army-wide between now and 2023. The current Phased Implementation Plan calls for identifying volunteers from CP-34 Occupational Series GS-301 who are willing to recode to GS-2210 Data Management/Systems Analysis,” said Barrett.
“Subsequent phases will include additional occupational series and parentheticals across the CP-34 work-force until the Quantum Leap pilot program successfully recodes, reskills, and upskills at least 1,000 IT positions. In addition, the NETCOM Civilian Talent Management Working Group will provide Quantum Leap program support.”
“In order to rapidly acquire the talent required to meet technical demands, we must ‘Re-Imagine’ not only the Workforce of the Future but also how we get there. Here’s the big idea: capitalize on the great qualities that our workforce possesses today, and take this opportunity to upskill and reskill for the future,” said Barrett.
For more information on NETCOM Visit: https://www.army.mil/netcom