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New supervisors are taking part in an enhanced course geared toward creating effective leaders.

Designed to complement the Army’s mandatory supervisor development course, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Supervisory Skills Development Program is required for all supervisors within their first year in a management position.

AMCOM had a similar program that ran from 2012 to 2016 but it stopped after a leadership change. At the behest of Maj. Gen. Todd Royar, AMCOM commanding general, a similar program has been reinstated and rejuvenated.

“People are the Army’s No. 1 resource,” Royar said. “If we want to make our organization better, investing in supervisors by giving them the skills to improve their leadership is a no-brainer.”

While Army organizations are known for copious training requirements, AMCOM G-1 Organizational Advisor Melissa Kilgore said the real shortfall seemed to exist between course content and practical application. “That really is a gap.”

During a virtual former leader forum in November, AMCOM G-1 Director Karen Bandera addressed efforts to fill the gaps in workforce development and leadership training available to the government workforce once they’ve come onboard.

Part of that filler is AMCOM’s SSDP.

“What we're trying to do is develop programs that's going to successfully lead us and, ultimately, the employees throughout their career – all the way from when they start in the new employee orientation … to the succession planning and retirement planning – [like] the military is so used to,” Bandera posited. “So we've taken a chapter out of the military book, if you will, to assist us in training the workforce a lot better.”

With the exception of the technical courses, each session will be taught or facilitated by someone from AMCOM G-1 Training and Career Management Division. The technical courses will be led by qualified authorities in those specific areas.

Before course content could be developed, Kilgore said two things happened: the AMCOM CG hosted a brown-bag lunch with supervisors to hear their views on the skill sets supervisors need and a supervisors’ focus group.

“A lot of what’s in the [curriculum] is what supervisors told us a new supervisor needs,” Kilgore said.

The end result is a 118-hour, yearlong program with multiple components conducted across various platforms. Each session is two hours and will result in attendees receiving between two and 10 continuous learning points per class.

Cohort 1-21, the first iteration of SSDP, started in January and has more than 30 employees registered from across the AMCOM enterprise. There are four students from Letterkenny Army Depot, Pennsylvania, and 15 each from Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas, and Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

“Because this is such a big time commitment, before we put anybody in this program, their managers had to sign off on it,” Kilgore said.

The SSDP incorporates 11 live training sessions via Microsoft Teams or Adobe Connect on topics ranging from supervisory roles, delegation, and crucial conversations and accountability to leading a diverse team, building trust, critical thinking and employee and project management.

Also part of SSDP are “Discussions with the G-1” – 60- to 90-minute training sessions that hit on specific topics to help employees navigate being a supervisor.

“The sessions are [designed] to give them real-world examples, give them an opportunity to discuss and also to give them specific contact points where, if they have questions, they can call somebody for more information,” Bandera said of the concept in late 2020.

There are 11 of these sessions throughout the program; each are worth two CLPs and encompass varying aspects of personnel management like managing employee relations, leave and employee recognition, reasonable accommodations, as well as instruction on hiring authorities and incentives.

Five technical courses on the timekeeping system, financial resource management, hiring processes, writing/reviewing position descriptions and working with the union are also part of the curriculum and are worth four or six CLPs each.

Due to the pandemic, supervisors have been faced with many new considerations like gauging performance while everyone teleworks separately and learning to address the challenge of managing a team you can’t physically see on a daily basis.

So the two remote management courses in SSDP are of particular significance in the age of COVID-19 and will focus on managing a virtual team and communication in a telework environment, both are worth two CLPs.

“[For] every module we do, there’s application to the work environment,” Kilgore said. “The biggest benefit of all is being able to talk with other people who are in the same situation that they’re in and learning from each other.”

“The desired outcome would be that these supervisors are provided a support system to help them through their first year so that they’re not having to learn on their own, and they have a resource to fall back on and they feel supported,” Kilgore said. She added, apart from the written curriculum, each student will benefit from monthly mentoring sessions.

The next cohort will begin in January 2022. Individuals eligible to take part in SSDP are identified through a database query. Supervisors can also request the addition of qualified personnel not recognized by the automated process.