FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Resources were the primary concern on the minds of about 20 Fort Rucker employees who were given the chance to meet with the director of Installation Management Command – Training who was in town June 17 for the garrison change of command ceremony that same day.
Vincent E. Grewatz, the director of the garrison’s parent directorate at IMCOM, didn’t pull any punches with the group, telling them that he expects there to be “some really tough years” ahead, but also reminded them that they and their fellow co-workers have “superpowers” to help them through the challenges.
“IMCOM is built the way it is built by design,” Grewatz said. “We’re not an accident – the way we are collaborative, the way we integrate base operations services whether or not we have the resources to do it. That’s really the strong suit of this organization – our communications have to be transparent.
“We can’t solve all of the problems. We’re certainly not resourced to serve all of the problems, and so we operate on the premise that we are smarter than any of us individually is smart. We know more than I know,” he added. “If everyone has the same information, we’re more likely to come out with a better outcome that will address the needs.”
He said that the command excels at being agile in the area of resources.
“It’s one of IMCOM’s superpowers. The other superpower is customer service,” Grewatz said. “Combined, we’re able to get at the challenges and direct some of those friction points more readily than others would. Our culture is based on openness, transparency, collaboration and integration.”
He advised the group not to hold their collective breath for additional resources to address the many challenges that installation management professionals face every day.
“But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it,” Grewatz added. “Not everything we face requires a material solution. Sometimes it will drive us to innovation and maybe we can solve it in a way that maybe we didn’t contemplate to begin with.”
He also advised the group not to lean too heavily on their higher command to solve the problems for them.
“On the one hand, we want someone to solve our problems or to help us – that’s true and that’s legitimate – but on the other hand we don’t want them to do damage,” he said. “I believe that the heart and soul of IMCOM is at the garrison level. This is where you touch customers, where you make a difference, where you make it happen. This is the center of gravity – you are the center of gravity.
“Here’s what I want you to do as an installation, as a functional chief, as an employee: tell me what you want me to tell you to do,” Grewatz said. “You know your world better than the folks above you. But you don’t know everything, so have a little humility. There are other ways of looking at the world and there are other constituencies that you don’t deal with, but don’t be shy about sharing what goes well and what challenges you have, and tell us what you want us to tell you to do so that we don’t give you constraints that you can’t live with even as we give you guidance that you can.”
Another area that can help with successfully managing challenges in a resource-constrained environment is employee development, according to Grewatz.
“If you have a gaping hole in a skillset, there are two ways you can rebuild it. You can either grow it, because you have people who are willing, but maybe not able – but who are willing to learn – or you can hire the skillset,” he said. “It depends on how urgent that need is. If it’s urgent, I’m probably going to hire someone because I don’t have time to do years of development to grow it. That’s a judgment call.”
He added that the decision to hire or grow is the necessity piece of it, but that there is an enhancement piece, as well.
“I think that a budget analyst from resource management who walks a mile in the shoes of a Directorate of Public Works person and understands the language in the DPW world will be a better analyst when they come back,” he said. “Having someone from DPW work with folks who work in a Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility is a way of ensuring the partnership between DPW and DFMWR works well. There are some cross-cutting interests there. You’re helping yourself by leveraging creatively.
“But supervisors have to buy into that, and this is where we have to all be committed to it -- as the employee and as the supervisor,” Grewatz added. “There’s a balance between organizational need and individual ambition, but we have to embrace the risks we’re incurring when we creatively look for developmental assignments and leverage of other people’s money. You can do it internally within the garrison, but also with (the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence), too – understanding what they expect from us, working for them in a developmental assignment may be a way of improving that relationship and development.
“We can be creative in how we build teams,” he said.
While there are oftentimes ways of navigating challenges above and beyond additional resources, there are always risks in installation management, the director said.
“Whether they’re unacceptable risks or acceptable risks – we can have that debate,” Grewatz added. “Army senior leaders certainly have that debate, and they tell us what they’re willing to accept risks on and what they are not, and we’ll accommodate and deal with it – that’s one of our superpowers, we’re good at that.
“In the meantime, what’s frustrating you is the same thing that we all wrestle with every day – we all want to get to success – we all want to be a part of a successful, winning team,” he said. “It’s incumbent on us to ensure that the risk doesn’t go unacceptable.
“Your passion is what saves us when we don’t have the resources. Your commitment to customer service is what keeps IMCOM alive – it’s why it’s a superpower,” Grewatz said. “We’re not always going to get the resources we need, but we dare not rest on our laurels – I need you to keep challenging the status quo and not be numbed by the environment that can be very oppressive.
“As long as our input is heard and we’ve had our day in court, we will live with the decisions of Army senior leaders because that is what we are all charged to do – be followers just like we’re leaders. Understand your business and broaden your aperture.”
The director also thanked the employees and reminded them of the importance of their mission.
“What you do is critical,” he said. “You don’t do it for the glory and you don’t do it for the money, certainly, but we do appreciate what you do every day.”