FORT SILL, Okla.-- With Armywide budget cuts, Col. Paul Hossenlopp, Fort Sill Garrison commander is focused not only on Soldiers, but on the civilian workforce.
"My number one priority has always been to keep everyone employed. My number two priority is to offer you opportunities to develop," said Hossenlopp.
The post held its inaugural Workforce Development Symposium Aug. 17 at the Patriot Club for that very purpose. Hossenlopp used the old Army motto of "Be All You Can Be" to describe how the Army is going to build civilian leadership the same way service members build leadership--with proper training.
"You need to make this day about you because every day you make it about Soldiers, civilians, retirees, and about me. So today, this is a direct order, you make it about you. This is valuable information that will help you further your personal and professional development," said Hossenlopp.
With that Dr. Bruce Jaeger, Army Management Staff College dean of academics, explained how courses at the staff college are meant as a structure for that leadership growth.
"Leadership is not just about the position that you hold. In fact, leadership has nothing to do with the position that you hold. Leadership is influencing others. Leadership is about taking folks from the place that they are to a place they've never been before, and you don't have to be in charge to do that. It's my experience people want to make a difference, and I believe the folks in here want to make a difference," said Jaeger.
The Army Management Staff College is currently located at Fort Belvoir, Va. and Fort Leavenworth, Kan., but is in the process of combining the two campuses at Leavenworth.
They offer foundation, basic, intermediate, advanced and continuing education for senior leaders courses. Each course is designed to teach communication skills and conflict management.
"The problem is as folks get higher and higher on the technical side what historically has happened is they forget about the leader development to go with that. So, a lot of time we see folks at GS 13, 14, 15-levels with no leader development whatsoever, or very rudimentary development. The ideal would be your training, your education, and your experience would be balanced as your career moves throughout your professional plan," said Jaeger.
These courses are free, paid for by the Army. So why would civilians object to taking them? Jaeger said he's heard several reasons: They believe their prior military training will be the same, or they don't want to take that much time from work, or it's not a guaranteed promotion. He said people who have attended said they came away with valuable knowledge.
"So, you're telling me you're too busy to get better? I just heard the garrison commander say that he will allow you to go," said Jaeger.
As far as promotions go, he said it's similar to the reason why people go to college or technical schools. At the end of their education there's usually not a promised job, but it can certainly help a person get one.
"We give you general skills to help you do your jobs. We've had people come back from our courses, and their performance is noticeably different," said Jaeger.
Between courses, civilians can still manage their progress through the Army Career Tracker and their Civilian Record Brief. The ACT allows users to view career related data in one online portal; examine career maps (personalized professional development models for their career plan); receive recommendations from leaders, mentors, supervisors and career program managers; identify the operational/functional, institutional and leader development requirements; complete an Individual Development Plan; and plan new activities designed to reach professional and personal goals. To access the ACT visit https://actnow.army.mil.
The CRB is is a snapshot of the civilian's performance appraisal, training completed, assignment history, certification and performance awards. To access your CRB visit http://acpol.army.mil/ and log in via the employee portal. Click on the "Employee' tab and your CRB will be located under the 'Self Service Applications' section.
James Miller, Fort Sill Human Resources director, said in the past figuring out exactly what path to take to get promoted was difficult. Now the Army is laying out a clear structure to diminish confusion.
"The Army is looking at ways to encourage the civilian workforce to improve and advance as a systematic approach," said Miller.
A year ago 40 percent of the civilian workforce had a career program and now almost 90 percent of the has one so each civilian will know which career path their on.
Miller stressed flexibility in the workforce. Just as Soldiers are assigned to new duty stations, he said sometimes finding the right person for the right job means a move.
"It's important to remember that you can serve the government anywhere. It doesn't necessarily have to be the job that you're doing right now. Keep that in mind make sure you have a plan. Make sure you're building on your education and building on your experience," said Miller.
"In the Army does everybody wants to end their career as [private first class] or private?" Miller rhetorically asked. "No, they want to be sergeant major or a general officer."
Miller said civilians should aspire to similar goals to reach senior executive service level and the Army is laying out the path for it to be possible.
"I thought it was fantastic information that will be very helpful to my future," said Joe Olson, an attendee.
Olson has attended the basic course at the Army Management Staff College and said he cannot wait to attend another when he is promoted.
"The Basic Course was fantastic. Like he said you'll be impressed. They would give you problems but they wouldn't give you the answer but there wasn't really a defined answer it was about teamwork and leadership and just working as a team," said Olson.
The rest of the day was spent in breakout sessions to cover different areas of growth such as civilian career programs, workforce engagement and stress management. The goal of the entire day was to build a stronger civilian workforce on Fort Sill.
"You can come here and punch the clock and you'll probably do a good job for 40 hours a week. Or, you can be a better team and a member of our family and really enjoy what you're doing all day every day for 40 years," said Hossenlopp.
For information on the Army Management Staff College courses visit www.amsc.belvoir.army.mil/main/index.jsp.