A plan for the people: AMC’s Civilian Implementation Plan

By Christopher SurridgeMarch 22, 2024

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Marion Whicker, the executive deputy to the commanding general at the U.S. Army Materiel Command, speaks on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Joint Munitions Command’s headquarters on Arsenal Island in Rock Island, Illinois. Whicker welcomed feedback from every individual in attendance at the two leadership development sessions she hosted. (Photo Credit: Shawn Eldridge) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – In the ongoing war for talent, Army Materiel Command is armed with a new strategy.

This January, command leadership published the AMC Civilian Implementation Plan in support of the overall AMC People Strategy that debuted in September 2023. Covering fiscal years 2024 to 2028, the CIP impacts every segment of the AMC civilian workforce, its 10 major subordinate commands, as well as the Organic Industrial Base.

“We have a plan that tells our civilians how we’re going to hire people, how we’re going to onboard people, how we’re going to train people, and how we’re going to continue to refresh the system,” said Marion Whicker, Executive Deputy to the Commanding General and AMC’s top civilian leader.

Looking to the Army of 2030 and beyond, the CIP aims to close gaps and capture opportunities across the civilian talent lifecycle. However, this strategy is set apart from previously prescribed practices as it establishes an holistic approach to workforce management. The updated plan emphasizes the individual while also leveraging 21st century talent management practices to effectively leverage each team member’s knowledge, skills and behaviors to achieve organizational victories.

“The status quo and the traditional ways of acquiring, developing, employing and retaining our talent are gone,” said Christina Freese, AMC’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, G-1.

Recruiting and retaining the right talent requires modernized approaches, starting with the initial hiring process and continuing throughout an employee’s career. The CIP therefore endorses more thoughtful workforce acquisition and onboarding strategies to better identify, match and integrate fresh talent to fitting opportunities. This aids AMC leaders to facilitate streamlined civilian entrance on duty and expedite a necessary understanding of their role, their mission and their overall impact.

Novel initiatives to achieve these ends include implementing the AMC five-page resume pilot, expanding the use of Direct Hire Authority, which reduces by one to two months the typical recruiting processing time, as well as disseminating a new, enterprise-wide AMC Onboarding Policy.

“If I go into my personal onboarding experience, it wasn’t that good. So that’s why I’ve been a champion for it all along,” Whicker said.

Once onboarded, the CIP advocates a multi-level approach to fully employ both teammates and their supervisors. The plan identifies well-prepared supervisors as a fundamental enabler of talent-driven innovation and teamwide cohesion, making their continued development a cornerstone of the new strategy.

Two pioneering efforts to further empower supervisors—the new “supervisor bootcamp” and monthly “supervisor townhalls”—help to ensure that supervisors can engage with subordinates and maximize their professional development, said Whicker. Recent topics featured at these townhall sessions discussed new hiring processes, Equal Employment Opportunity and the DPMAP process.

“We want to teach them the Army way and teach them how to have those career conversations with their employees,” Whicker said.

The new strategy outlines an optimized Civilian Development Enterprise where engaged team members use career mapping tools, functional and technical credentialing platforms, and mentorship programs.

“We have undertaken a pilot in the OIB for career mapping,” Freese said. “The intent is for the employee to understand what skills they have, what paths in their career they might like to go down, and what their skill gaps may be.”

Enhanced culture and quality of life are fundamental to workforce retention, and the CIP commits to continue promoting diversity, equity and inclusion programs, workplace flexibilities and holistic welfare initiatives. Critical data analytics tools and assessments, such as the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, rationalize the effectiveness and perceived benefits of existing and new talent management programs, policies and procedures, which empowers leaders to improve the talent management lifecycle and AMC culture, said Whicker.

“When we are in a war for talent, we want to make sure that we’re retaining talent,” she said. “It’s important to have a process in place and make sure it’s really working.”