By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)March 13, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - The garrison launched the first in a series of new Leadership and Workforce Development Seminars Feb. 27. Managers and supervisors participated in a daylong training session aimed at enhancing their communication, time management, team building, resiliency and organizational skills.
"I want you to share your good ideas with one another," said Dr. Robert Kandler, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden deputy to the commander, in opening the seminar.
"Leaders have to be flexible. Leaders have to know how to change," said Kandler. "But they also have to know how to stay the course."
The seminars are a strategic planning initiative, part of the garrison's overall effort to continue improving customer support and service for Soldiers and their families, said Camille Howes, with the garrison's Plans, Analysis and Integration Office.
"This is a concerted effort to professionally develop our middle managers," said Howes, pointing out that 2013 is the Year of the Middle Manager.
"Hopefully the seminar content will equip our managers to be more efficient and productive," she said.
Calling it a "low bureaucratic zone," Howes said the idea was to gather local subject matter experts to engage managers while avoiding "death by PowerPoint."
"We didn't have to look far to comprise a solid team of facilitators," she added
"It's very interactive training; we're idea sharing," Howes said, explaining that with tighter budgets restricting the potential for stateside training, this is a way for employees to ramp their skill set here at home. "We plan to supplement this training with bimonthly lunch-and-learn workshops, which may cover topics ranging from progressive discipline to motivational talks. … Our strategic focus is to invest in our middle managers toward the betterment of the overall workforce.
"We believe that continued professional development is essential for the well-being of our employees, our organization and our nation," Howes added. "And while this is a time of constrained resources, we are fully committed to the professional growth of our workforce."
"What's a key ingredient to being an effective leader, friend or spouse," asked Army Community Service Director Jan Meert during a session on improving communication skills. Explaining that studies show that face-to-face communication remains the most effective way to communicate, Meert drew attention to the many facets of communication -- eye contact, body language, conflict resolution and trust.
"We communicate nonverbally and oftentimes that is miscommunicated," she said.
"If there is a conflict going on, it is up to you as a leader or supervisor to address it," Meert added. "Respond, don't react. When you respond, use your head, not your emotions."
Keeping everyone in the organization informed and up-to-date are also vital parts of the communication process, she said. "Connecting personally opens the lines of communication. … You've got to make folks feel important, valued -- a part of the team," Meert said.
Finding ways to reduce the sheer volume of email traffic and better use of computer software tools to manage appointments and administrative tasks were addressed by Jamie Patrick, USAG Wiesbaden command administrative officer.
"We all need things from each other, and they are time sensitive," said Patrick, demonstrating a range of tips for using Windows Outlook to increase productivity.
"These are the gears, right here sitting in this room, that keep the garrison running," said Col. David Carstens, USAG Wiesbaden commander.
Calling the current budget uncertainty "tumultuous times," Carstens said, "Now, more than ever, we needed to do this. You are the first line of defense in ensuring that we survive these times.
"We can't anticipate everything," said Carstens, explaining that mid-level managers need to be prepared to oversee all of the different aspects of supervisory responsibility.
"I think this is really essential to your development as leaders," Carstens added.