Past editions of Army Sustainment have detailed initiatives that advance talent management capabilities into the 21st century, and the Summer edition doubles down to maintain the momentum built by our partners across the Army’s personnel enterprise. Efforts undertaken by the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, Human Resources Command, and the Army Recruiting and Retention Task Force (ARTF), among others, are operationalizing a people-first mentality by helping move away from an old-school industrial understanding of personnel management. In such a system, people often become equated to billet-filling cogs whose preferences and unique attributes are secondary at best.
Those of you who have served for 15 or 20 years may recall an Army reliant upon an outdated personnel management system when you first matriculated to the force. Billets and positions were managed to ensure operational capabilities, but the people executing those jobs as part of their careers were nearly an afterthought. Many Soldiers and civilians struggled to feel in control of their careers as vertical and horizontal mobility was perceivably reduced to a transaction: cogs replacing cogs to keep the machine running. This is hopefully an unfamiliar sentiment to some younger readers, given the rightful reshuffling of priorities. This legacy approach to personnel management cuts across swaths of organizations in government and industry during that time. Thankfully, a paradigm shift has occurred in the 21st century due to the vision and leadership of the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA). Large organizations like the Army don’t aim to manage just the person. Instead, they aim to manage and develop a person’s talents and then align them with the needs of the force. When managed properly, the relationship between the individual and the organization is sustainably and mutually beneficial. By all accounts, the Army is on the right track toward that end-state thanks to strong retention numbers over the last decade, which you can learn more about in this edition’s feature interview with the ARTF’s Director, Maj. Gen. Deb Kotulich. Since last fall, the ARTF has tackled the most pressing human capital challenges head-on, building on the massive progress made in supporting people by the Army Talent Management Task Force since its establishment in 2016.
The sustainment enterprise experienced a data epiphany a few years ago. There needed to be an advancement in how the Army collected, stored, analyzed, and communicated massive streams of data across echelons. Data needed to become a readiness asset. The people enterprise has followed a parallel path, and the last few years have offered great promise for what the new talent management systems will deliver for Soldiers and their families. For them, data must help untangle the complex supply and demand dynamics that define large-scale, world-class human resource management. The Army aims to see its people holistically, including their varying preferences based on family life and the unique knowledge, skills, behaviors, and preferences (KSB-P) they bring to the force. The Army’s personnel enterprise has taken the CSA’s guidance and is exhaustively characterizing, understanding, and leveraging the reach and diversity of its talent pool through modernized systems and supporting processes. Putting people first becomes more than just a mantra when you operate with a clear perspective of their collective talents that drive mission readiness. “It’s people first that equals readiness,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston about our priorities.
This last year has allowed the Army to become more familiar with these updated abilities from which it manages careers and continually develops and retains talent. Moving forward, this will be a two-way street as the Army recognizes roles and acts upon responsibilities throughout the process. Whether you’ve just enlisted or commissioned or are approaching well-earned retirement, everyone has a critical role in both career and talent management, including recruiting and retention, to help deliver the Army of 2030. This means actively participating within the process and system in place while feeling empowered to be your best professional advocate. Share your experiences and talents with others for their benefit and seek the hard jobs that will push you outside your comfort zone. To grow professionally, you must take some leaps of faith and trust that you’ll learn and adapt to your new environment’s demands. Actively managing your career helps you create your luck. Your talents and preferences will align with the Army’s needs at the right place and time.
The Army has an exceedingly deep bench of extraordinary talent stored as names and KSB-P in its personnel systems. The Army has implemented a 21st-century, data-enabled approach to talent management and can see not only what an individual can contribute to their unit but also what development individuals need to maximize their potential. When leaders pick the right people for the Army, they consistently select the right people for their specific unit. The Army is now more effectively postured than ever to ensure it has the right people in the right place at the right time, and from that alignment, it will achieve sustained Total Army readiness.
Maj. Gen. Heidi J. Hoyle currently serves as the Headquarters, Department of the Army Acting Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4. She has a Bachelor of Science in engineering management from the U.S. Military Academy, a Master of Science in systems engineering from the University of Virginia, and a Master of Science in national resource strategy from the National Defense University. She is a graduate of the Chemical Officer Basic Course, Combined Logistics Officer Advanced Course, United States Army Command and General Staff College, and the Eisenhower School of National Security and Resource Strategy.
This article was published in the Summer 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.