WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 19, 2015) — Civilian workforce “engagement” is another way to bolster Army readiness, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho said.
Readiness, which has been identified by the Army’s chief of staff as the service’s top priority, is not only the domain of Soldiers, Horoho said. It’s a responsibility shared by the Army’s civilian workforce.
Horoho spoke at the Civilian Awards Luncheon during the 2015 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 14.
The No. 1 way to bring about readiness to the civilian workforce, she said, is “engagement,” which is another term for esprit de corps.
Engagement, she said, doesn’t correlate with employment longevity or paygrade. Instead, it’s the “cumulative effect of five variables: culture, brand, values, trust and mission.”
The culture of each organization will be different, depending on its mission, Horoho said. For example, for many organizations, such as the Army labs, that culture might include experimentation and risk taking. But a very different culture would be in an organization tasked with potentially launching nuclear missiles.
Horoho said it’s important that everyone in an organization reach consensus on what its culture should be and then live that culture every day.
Additionally, every civilian employee should know the organization’s “brand” and that brand should be a strong one, Horoho said.
While the Army has had its Trusted Professionals brand, each organization within the Army has one that is unique to it.
Soldiers have a strong foundation in Army values, Horoho said. Examples of those include the “Army Values,” and the “Warrior Ethos.” Each organization within the Army will also have its own values that are more closely aligned with its mission.
In Army medicine, values associated with preventative care and treatment, for example, would be important, she said.
Trust occurs “when the employer and the employee become a team, not opponents,” Horoho said. Trust must be transparent and involve commitment to each other and to the team.
Conversely, external stakeholders must also have trust in the organization supporting them, she said. For instance, sick or injured Soldiers must trust Army medicine. An infantry unit must trust its close-air support, and so on.
While the chief of staff has repeatedly said that the Army’s mission is to fight and win wars, each organization within the Army will also have its own secondary mission that supports the larger Army mission, she said.
Knowing the organization’s mission and reaching consensus and buy-in on that mission is important, Horoho said.
And because sometimes organizations change, the mission statement might have to have to change as well. When that happens, there should be consensus on what those changes are, she said.
Creating engagement, Horoho said, “is a shared responsibility between both employees and their supervisors. It’s an outcome of a team effort. It’s an expectation, not an entitlement … I believe each of us as team members must understand where you are and where the team is in all of the five variables.”
Everyone in an organization, Horoho said, must have a voice in the conversation about those five variables.
“If we are to win in a complex and uncertain world, we need the certainty that our civilian workforce is fully engaged,” the Army surgeon general stressed.
Paraphrasing President Ronald Reagan, Horoho said, “the ability of this or any administration to succeed depends in no small degree on the energy, the dedication and the spirit of federal employees.”
Army civilians can do that, she said, by “providing the foundation [and] institutional knowledge that allows us to do what we do.”
In her own organization, she said, 48,000 of the 181,000 personnel are Army civilians.
Horoho concluded that throughout her 40-year career, she’s “found the civilian workforce to be one of the most dedicated, one of the most inspiring workforces that there is.”
By David Vergun