FORT EUSTIS, Va. (Nov. 18, 2014) – The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command has established a professional development program for its civilians at Fort Eustis that could be replicated across the Army.
The program aims to increase civilians’ knowledge of Army doctrine and initiatives, while encouraging excellence, professional development and resiliency.
Civilians are a critical component of the Army team supporting the defense of the nation, said those organizing the Civilian Professional Development, or CPD, program from U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s, or TRADOC’s, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff G-1/4 (Personnel and Logistics).
To become strategic leaders, civilians must be innovative, adaptive, professionally educated and dedicated to lifelong learning, the officials said. Employees, supervisors, senior leaders, and career program managers all have a role in developing Army civilians they added.
Through the CPD program, TRADOC civilians at Eustis have the opportunity to attend monthly professional development forums. During these forums, senior leaders from TRADOC and the Army discuss topics pertinent to the Army Civilian Corps.
While not all commands or installations have the resources to operate local training programs, this approach can be relatively inexpensive with a big return on investment per professional, according to organizers. A small investment in professional growth demonstrates to the workforce that leadership cares about their development, and organizers stress this inspires loyalty.
The benefits are four-fold. The program:
— Delivers a deeper understanding of what it means to be a professional and a member of the Army profession, along with a greater appreciation of the implications and impacts of their work.
— Reinforces the important role of the civilian, therefore inspiring them to continue to make meaningful contributions to the team and become more effective in the workplace.
— Encourages civilians to stay interested and interesting through focused CPD sessions that open the workforce to new possibilities, new knowledge and new skill areas.
— Retains staff and nurtures employee skills by consistently and actively promoting professional development activities.
Of course, the program would not be successful without the support and engagement of TRADOC senior leaders.
From the onset of the program, many of Senior Executive Service members have participated in CPD sessions to include, “Coaching and Mentoring.” This was a great opportunity for civilians to learn and seek guidance from experienced senior executives to find out what has worked for them, and learn at least one thing to help them professionally.
Recently, Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding general, TRADOC, discussed “The Future of the U.S. Army and the Civilian Corps.” He explained what TRADOC is for and what it does for the Army and then contextualized the bigger picture of where the Army is going, and what role TRADOC has in that, which is fairly substantial.
Civilians now have a better understanding of the larger environment they are operating in, thus understanding their piece of the pie and their individual roles in support of the command’s missions.
Maj. Gen. William C. Hix, deputy director for Army Capabilities Integration Center, TRADOC, discussed “Strategic Landpower – Force 2025 and Beyond.” As members of the Army Profession, this was an opportunity for civilians to better understand the future of the Army and TRADOC’s role developing the concepts, strategies, capabilities and design for the future force.
The “Communicating for Effect” panel, kicked off by Lt. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, deputy commanding general/chief of staff, TRADOC, gave civilians an opportunity to learn effective written, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and their value in the workplace. Whether coordinating a staff package, writing an email, tweeting, or giving a speech, proper communication skills can help employees achieve the results they want.
Other topics include health and resiliency, Army history, preparing for a new position, conflict resolution and generational differences in the workplace.
When planning a program, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Commands can leverage current professional development opportunities. They can also coordinate across their staffs to identify available resources, such as guest speakers and panel members.
Commands should query their civilians to determine what topics employees would like to learn about, as well as time and date preferences. Feedback should also be solicited after each event as the true success of the program depends on civilians’ participation and their view.
A focused CPD program is something Army commands can easily establish for their civilians to reinforce the importance of their professional development and their value to the Army.