Tag Archives: U.S. Army Human Resources Command

HRC leaders reach out to Fort Bliss NCOs at town hall

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By MARTHA C. KOESTER
NCO Journal

Is it true that assignment officers at U.S. Army Human Resources Command save the great jobs for their friends? Or, that assignment officers sit on the promotion boards?

HRC’s Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson has heard many of the fallacies about HRC and urges Soldiers to reject the myths.

“A lot of [the negativity] is [because of a] lack of education,” Jefferson said before a town hall for senior noncommissioned officers in December at Fort Bliss, Texas. “What we try to do is inform the field of what we are doing and why we do it …

Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson of U.S. Army Human Resources Command (right), with Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (left) and Sgt. Maj. Derek Johnson, deputy chief of staff G1 sergeant major at Headquarters Department of the Army, take on talent management during the third town hall in November at Fort Eustis, Virginia. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson of U.S. Army Human Resources Command (right), with Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (left) and Sgt. Maj. Derek Johnson, deputy chief of staff G1 sergeant major at Headquarters Department of the Army, take on talent management during the third town hall in November at Fort Eustis, Virginia. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

If a Soldier doesn’t get a promotion or assignment he or she wants, “it’s not because the assignment manager doesn’t like you or doesn’t want to send you to those locations,” he said. “It’s because you have to meet certain criteria. The way we dispel those myths is to talk Soldiers through it and educate the leaders. The leaders can help us to educate the Soldier on how the assignment process works.”

Jefferson and Maj. Gen. Thomas Seamands, HRC commander, visited Fort Bliss on Dec. 14 to reach out to both noncommissioned and commissioned service members. For Jefferson and Seamands, the advantages of doing these HRC road shows are twofold.

“There’s a benefit for us at HRC because we get to come out here and listen to the Soldiers in the field, to find out what’s on their minds and how we can make things better for them and their organizations,” Jefferson said. “The other part is for us to show transparency. We inform the Soldiers of what’s going on and what kinds of changes are taking place within their career management fields. That way, they are aware of what’s taking place and how it affects them and their families.”

As the Army downsizes, Jefferson said talent management is not just HRC’s responsibility.

U.S. Army Human Resources Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson (right), with Maj. Gen. Thomas Seamands, HRC Commander, discusses professional development with noncommissioned officers Dec. 14 at Fort Bliss, Texas. Jefferson says road shows are part of HRC’s efforts to show transparency. (Photo by Mehgan Portillo, NCO Journal)
U.S. Army Human Resources Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson (right), with Maj. Gen. Thomas Seamands, HRC commander, discusses professional development with noncommissioned officers Dec. 14 at Fort Bliss, Texas. Jefferson says road shows are part of HRC’s efforts to show transparency. (Photo by Meghan Portillo, NCO Journal)

“We [at HRC] identify the Soldiers that need to move to these different positions in our Army, but once we place Soldiers on assignment, then the unit has the responsibility in managing that talent,” Jefferson said. “The leaders on the ground ensure that Soldiers get to the right schools they need in order to develop the talent and go forward.”

He also recently spoke about the issue during Army Training and Doctrine Command’s third town hall in November at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Many questions and complaints heard during HRC’s road shows are linked to recent revisions in Army policy.

“It’s just the fear of change,” Jefferson said. “When we decided to make the change to a new noncommissioned officer evaluation report, a lot of people were in an uproar about it. But now that we have been doing this NCOER for almost 12 months, not a lot of people are arguing about it. Now, it’s just learning how to write those evaluations. Same thing with STEP,” the Select, Train, Educate, Promote policy for promotion.

Jefferson often offers his assistance to Soldiers at the road shows. If, for example, a Soldier has an issue with his or her assignment and is not connecting with the assignment officer to discuss it, Jefferson will take the Soldier’s information and meet with the assignment officer in an effort to get both parties in touch. Also, if Soldiers continue to take issue with a certain policy or question its relevance, they may count on Jefferson to take up the debate with the deputy chief of staff, G-1.

“If it’s something we think we should look at, we’ll take that back to the Army G-1 and say, ‘We have got this feedback from the Soldiers out in the field. Maybe we could look at this policy, and see if it’s still relevant or if we need to adjust it,’” Jefferson said.

As for those NCOs looking for advice on how to get ahead in the Army, Jefferson said it’s all about self-improvement.

“The way you do that is by going to military schools, by taking the hard jobs and developing yourself and making sure that you are technically and tactically proficient in your career management field,” he said. “Also, reach out to your mentors and find out what else you need to be doing. But the most important thing to prepare yourself for promotion, regardless of what job you are in, is do the best you can and ensure that your evaluation says exactly how you did in that position. Along with going to the schools, that’s the major way to develop ourselves.”

The command sergeant major said he has grown a lot in his 18 months on the job and learns something new every day, especially in his interactions with Soldiers.

“I want to make an impact on the Soldiers and families because that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Our job is to ensure that Soldiers and our families are taken care of, and I am very passionate about that. There are going to be some Soldiers saying, ‘It’s just HRC again,’ but there is another Soldier out here who I am going to have an impact on ─ something that I am going to say today is going to impact him and his family, or I am going to be able to assist them with something and they are going to put that trust back in HRC and think, ‘Well, maybe they are not the bad guys.’”

Jefferson often leaves NCOs with the same bit of advice ─ develop a passion for what they do, and success will come.

“If you are passionate about something, you are going to be successful in doing that,” he said. “Remain competent and relevant. If you are a leader, all these changes affect all of our Soldiers and their families. You have to know what’s going on in our Army today in order for you to be an effective leader.”

Podcast Episode 3

NCO Journal Podcast Episode 3

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Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson, CSM of Human Resources Command, and NCO Journal staff writer and editor Martha Koester discuss the HRC road show.

SMA’s Senior Enlisted Council focuses on personnel

By Sgt. 1st Class Joy Dulen
U.S. Army Human Resources Public Affairs

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey led the first 2016 meeting of the Senior Enlisted Council recently at the U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with the focus set on managing the enlisted force and maximizing talent.

Because HRC’s mission is to optimize total force personnel readiness, Dailey said it was the perfect setting for the topic at hand.

“This time, we talked about our personnel and how we’re going to rearrange the talent management and leader development of our senior noncommissioned officers,” he said.

A new direction

Dailey changed what was once known as the Board of Directors under former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler to the SEC shortly after taking over as the 15th Sgt. Maj. of the Army in January 2015. The council of senior sergeants major from throughout the Army meets monthly via video teleconference and in person quarterly to discuss issues that affect the welfare of Soldiers.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, right, talks with Command Sgt. Maj. James Sims, U.S. Army Material command, during a recent Senior Enlisted Council meeting at the U.S. Army Human Resources Command. The SEC meets quarterly to discuss issues affecting Soldiers' welfare. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joy Dulen, U.S. Army Human Resources Public Affairs)
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, right, talks with Command Sgt. Maj. James Sims, U.S. Army Material command, during a recent Senior Enlisted Council meeting at the U.S. Army Human Resources Command. The SEC meets quarterly to discuss issues affecting Soldiers’ welfare. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joy Dulen, U.S. Army Human Resources Public Affairs)

Topics may range from military pay and compensation recommendations to uniform changes. However, Dailey said the time has come to concentrate on Soldiers after more than a decade at war.

“The Chief of Staff of the Army has tasked me with taking a look at how we manage our enlisted force, how we maximize the talents and capabilities of our Soldiers, and really answer some of the questions that we’ve asked for a long time,” Dailey said.

Topics discussed during SECs can affect the force in as little as a month or result in ongoing talks into the future. Dailey said it depends on the issue.

“We get recommendations, and some of those start with one individual Soldier,” he said.

Making changes

He gave the example of a recent change in Army policy on the authorized wear of black socks with the Army physical fitness uniform. A Soldier stood up in a town hall meeting and asked why black socks weren’t allowed. Less than 30 days later, the policy was changed.

“We took that to the Senior Enlisted Council, had a unanimous vote that it was in keeping with the finest traditions of Army service, went to the Chief of Staff of the Army and we quickly made a decision,” Dailey said.

Some issues are much more complex. When you’re discussing working through the intricacies of military compensation and reform, it could take several months to affect the force, he said.

“The perfect example is the Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report that has just been launched,” Dailey said. “We worked on that for two years in the Senior Enlisted Council … and some of these things take a lot of work because we have to call in the professionals, like those people who work here at the Human Resources Command, to be able to inform us and do the analysis.”

Dailey reiterated the SEC’s biggest concern is Soldiers’ welfare. They don’t want to make decisions that could have a negative impact over the long term, he said.

“This is the Army, it’s a big organization and it’s hard to turn back,” he said. “Simple things like black socks — not a huge effect on Soldiers. But the Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report, that has a huge effect on the total population of NCOs, not just now, but into the foreseeable future.”

Dailey said the SEC will continue to meet with a fresh new focus on Soldiers and the Chief of Staff of the Army’s No. 1 priority — readiness.

“We’re an organization made up of people, and we’re the largest people organization in America,” he said. “Human Resources Command is one of those critical nodes that we have to invest in for the future and make sure we get it right because they’re here to take care of our people. And our job as an Army is to always get better.”

Soldier For Life sets transitioning NCOs on path to success

By MARTHA C. KOESTER
NCO Journal

As the Army draws down, the NCOs at U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Ky., are working to set up every transitioning noncommissioned officer for success in the civilian world. A proper transition for the Soldier will begin with the Soldier Life Cycle initiative, which was implemented Oct. 1, to better prepare him or her for post-Army life by ensuring that he or she has all of the necessary tools, opportunities and counseling, officials said.

“We owe it to our Soldiers, our veterans, for what they have given, that their opportunities for life after active duty are set up for the best success they can possibly have, whether they transition into opportunities for a career, education or as entrepreneurs,” said Sgt. Maj. Anthony Williams, the sergeant major of the Army Transition Division at HRC.

The Soldier For Life─Transition Assistance Program aims to help Soldiers develop career skills for the civilian world as they transition out of the military. Soldiers (above) meet with civilian recruiters at a recent job fair at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. (Photo by Rob Martinez)
The Soldier For Life─Transition Assistance Program aims to help Soldiers develop career skills for the civilian world as they transition out of the military. Soldiers (above) meet with civilian recruiters at a recent job fair at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. (Photo by Rob Martinez)

Central to the mission is the Soldier For Life─Transition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Army Career and Alumni Program, or ACAP. The program is part of an initiative Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno launched about two years ago in order to ease transitioning out of the Army and make it more productive.

“It ensures lifelong success for our Soldiers and their families,” Odierno said last year during the program’s launch. “Our goal is for Soldiers who are leaving the military to be career-ready.”

Transition principles will be introduced to Soldiers during their first year in the Army and during certain military career benchmarks. The program will offer counseling, as well as employment and educational workshops.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that transitioning Soldiers have some successful plan in place, so that when they leave, they are transitioning into better opportunities,” Williams said. “Thus far, we are seeing positive results. We are preparing Soldiers for a [successful] post-military life by ensuring that the Soldiers have the tools, resources and employment opportunities, as well as educational [ones].”

Focusing on Soldier Life cycle

The Soldier Life Cycle, which is central to the program, is divided into three phases to better guide NCOs by distributing segments of the Army’s Career Readiness Standards through the span of their careers in the Army. Phase One begins during the Soldier’s first year in the Army and includes civilian credentialing information on the Soldier’s military occupational specialty, or MOS, and an eight-hour financial readiness class. Phase Two, also known as the career phase, occurs over two parts: from one to 10 years of service, and from 10 years of service to transition or retirement. Phase Three deals with the actual transition, and includes training on employability, résumé writing and job hunting.

Contractors for the Transition Branch at Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Ky., prepare forms to mail to transitioning Soldiers.  (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Contractors for the Transition Branch at Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Ky., prepare forms to mail to transitioning Soldiers. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

“The goal of the Soldier Life Cycle is to retain quality [NCOs] in the force and to support them,” Williams said. “It is geared toward developing [NCOs’] career skills while introducing them to the many benefits that the Army has to offer. It also prepares [NCOs] to mentor their Soldiers … throughout the life cycle of the Soldier.”

“We help develop Soldiers throughout their careers,” Williams said. “Leaders also help Soldiers put together their résumés as their particular careers change, because the résumé of a young specialist is different from the résumé of a staff sergeant.”

To comply with career readiness standards, each Soldier must meet and achieve individual transition plan goals, which include registering for Veterans Affairs e-benefits and My HealtheVet registration, an MOS crosswalk or gap analysis, and a 12-month post-separation budget.

Weighing options to stay in

Soldiers in transition from active duty also have the opportunity to continue their military careers in an Army Reserve or National Guard capacity. Reserve component career counselors will “lay out options for the Soldier so that he or she can make an educated decision based on his or her life, and his or her family,” said Sgt. Maj. Gregory Jacobs, sergeant major of the Army Reserve Transition Branch at Human Resources Command.

“It’s a huge cost savings to the taxpayers if we keep the active component [NCOs] in boots or in the reserve component. So we look at it from that aspect, too ─ preserving that investment,” Jacobs said.

The goal of reserve component career counselors is to engage transitioning Soldiers as far out as possible from their expiration term of service, or ETS, date. That way, counselors can provide as much assistance as possible.

“How can we help a Soldier? If they can help themselves by getting to us early, we will be able to fully show them what is out there in terms of options, opportunities and their benefits with either Army Reserve or National Guard,” said Sgt. Maj. Scott P. Spigelmyer, sergeant major of the National Guard Transition Branch at HRC.

Reserve component career counselors work “hand in hand” with the Soldier For Life─Transition Assistance Program on a daily basis, Jacobs said.

“There are things we can show [transitioning NCOs] that the National Guard and Army Reserve can offer them so that they are not without medical insurance,” Jacobs said. “You’ve got a part-time job and you’re drawing a paycheck every month by coming to battle assemblies.”

“It’s probably the best part-time job in the world because they offer you medical [insurance], they offer you a paycheck every month, and they offer you a retirement at the end of your 20 years [of service], if you want it,” Jacobs said. “There aren’t too many part-time jobs out there that can offer [NCOs] those three things.”

Keeping the ‘best of the best’

As the Army moves to downscale, efforts will still be made to retain Soldiers who are best suited to become future leaders.

“We’re trying to retain the skill set, the knowledge and experience ─ what they have done over the past three, four, five years and they have deployed two or three times,” Spigelmyer said. “There is a lot of value that both the Army Reserve and the National Guard can take from separating NCOs.”

“Our NCOs who [work as reserve component career counselors and] help young Soldiers transition out into the civilian world preserve a huge amount of skills,” Jacobs said. “It’s a win-win situation to have these active component Soldiers transition to the Army Reserve or National Guard.”

The Soldier For Life─Transition Assistance Program is geared toward helping Soldiers develop skills through the progression of their Army careers until they transition out of the military.

“We have been getting out, trying to let [NCOs] know what the Army’s transition program has to offer and why it was put into place,” Williams said. “We tell Soldiers, ‘You can go through the process and just be that knot on the log and not grasp the information, or you can really take advantage of the program and learn things that you never thought you could actually have as you transition out the door.’”

HRC: New NCOER to ‘help shape Army across the board’

By MARTHA C. KOESTER
NCO Journal

The recent overhaul of the Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report will help identify the next leaders of the Army by ensuring that NCOs meet requirements before they are given greater responsibility, said officials at U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Ky. Ultimately, the new NCOER — which will transition from a one-size-fits-all report to one based on the NCO’s rank — will offer Army officials a better tool in determining which Soldiers to place in key assignments.

Plans call for the Army to transition from one NCOER to three separate reports for NCOs of different ranks. The new NCOER, which is due to roll out in September 2015, will also feature new responsibilities for raters and senior raters.

“We need to align [the NCOER] with current doctrine,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III after addressing students in August at the U. S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, shortly after NCOER changes were announced. “We should be measuring people against what we say leaders should be, know and do. … [New control measures] may be part of the solution, but it’s really going to be about noncommissioned officers upholding a standard to define what means success, failure or excellence.”

“With new control measures, everyone cannot receive a 1/1 (exemplary rating) anymore,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Smith, the command sergeant major of HRC. “It’s also going to help shape the Army across the board because when promotion boards and senior leaders are looking at those files to pick the next future leader of the Army, there will be a clearer distinction between who is among the best.”

Reviewing the old NCOER

The Army began a review in 2010 of the NCOER, which has been in place since 1987. Army leadership wanted to align what they saw as an aging and “over-inflated” NCOER with current leadership doctrine. The goal was to establish and enforce accountability among raters, and determine whether the one-size-fits-all approach of the old NCOER was still appropriate.

Army feedback on the current NCOER, lessons learned from it and comments from centralized selection boards − which noted the difficulty in identifying the very best in the Army for promotions or key assignments − were among the factors that helped contribute to the development of the new NCOER, said Sgt. Maj. Stephen J. McDermid, the sergeant major of HRC’s Evaluation Systems Branch.

The new noncommissioned officer evaluation report, which is due to roll out in September 2015, will transition from one to three separate reports for NCOs of different ranks. The new NCOER will also feature new responsibilities for raters and senior raters. (Photo by U.S. Army)
The new Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report, which is due to roll out in September 2015, will transition from one to three separate reports for NCOs of different ranks. The new NCOER will also feature new responsibilities for raters and senior raters. (Photo by U.S. Army)

“The bottom line is it’s going to force rating officials to identify the very best, because centralized selection board comments have noted the difficulty that, when everybody’s file looks the same, it makes it really hard to know for sure that you’re picking the right individuals,” McDermid said.

Change was due for the “highly inflated” evaluations of the previous NCOER, McDermid said. Approximately 90 percent of all senior NCOs were basically rated as being among the best in the Army with a 1/1 box check, which is the best possible assessment, he said.

“It was very difficult for the Army, selection boards and career branch managers to identify the best talent [with the previous NCOER],” he said.

Transitioning from one to three reports helps establish the differences between junior and senior NCOs while allowing the assessment to focus on grade-specific technical performance objectives, McDermid said. The new NCOER also delineates official rating roles and responsibilities: Raters are to focus only on performance while senior raters are to address the NCO’s potential. The idea is to eliminate the inconsistent ratings often found with the current NCOER.

“[The advantage of the new NCOER for NCOs is] it’s going to level the playing field and ensure fairness across the board,” McDermid said. “Right now, we have a system where there is no accountability for the rating officials. … If raters use [DA Pamphlet 623-3], it clearly identifies, particularly for the senior rater, what those assessments mean and stand for. With a highly inflated system, everybody feels they must have a 1 in order to be competitive. But the reality is that a 1 should only be used for those truly deserving NCOs who have demonstrated the potential to serve at a higher grade or responsibility.”

Big changes ahead

Another key change of the new NCOER is that support forms will require senior raters to counsel NCOs twice, at a minimum, during the rating period. But despite the changes on the horizon, rating officials don’t need to change their rating philosophies until the new NCOER is implemented, McDermid said.

In moving to a senior rater profile, it becomes even more “critical that [the senior rater] sit down, counsel and mentor that rated NCO,” he said.

The counseling sessions will force rating officials to sit down with NCOs to make sure that the expectations laid out by leaders are followed through and that the NCOs stay on track, Smith said. Additional responsibility will also be placed on the rated NCO to set a goal for that rating period and to achieve it.

“[NCOs will then hear raters say], ‘If you want to remain competitive, if you want to be a future leader in the Army, you’ll have to do the things that are going to get you there,” Smith said. “You have to stay proficient in your core competencies. You have to go to school to improve yourself. You have to continue to improve on your physical fitness. All those things that have been laid out for years, those things are really going to come to the forefront because now not everybody is going to receive a 1/1 [rating]. This is going to force leaders and Soldiers to strap up their boot laces and really get after it every day.”

In order to ease the transition to the new NCOER, mobile teams will begin training in April at HRC at Fort Knox. Once completed, mobile training teams will then instruct trainers throughout the Army in May. Those trainers will then return to their installations, and they will train their assigned units and personnel from June through August 2015 in time for the rollout of the new NCOER in September.

“During this time, when we start to roll out and we start training and bringing out mobile training teams to different organizations, it is critical that senior leaders at all levels in the Army are really engaged in this process so that we can properly train the entire Army,” Smith said. “The people who should be putting a lot of emphasis on it are the senior leaders, because if we don’t get this right, we can [adversely] affect some Soldiers’ careers in the long run.”

Establishing and enforcing accountability for rating officials will be paramount in eliminating rating inflation in the evaluation system, officials say.

“Leveling the playing field and making sure that everyone plays by the same rules will create fairness across the board,” McDermid said.

“[The current NCOER] is outdated and highly inflated,” he said. “NCOs must understand the move toward [establishing] the accountability of the rating official, which will ensure that we provide accurate assessments because … not everybody is a 1 [rating],” he said. “When we talk about a culture change, we’re talking about a significant emotional impact on the NCO Corps once the new NCOER is implemented.”

▪▪▪

 

Key changes in the new NCOER

Secretary of the Army John McHugh approved the following revisions to the Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report on Aug. 1, 2014. The changes apply to all components: active, Reserve and National Guard. Use of the new NCOER is due to begin in September 2015.

  • Three NCOER forms aligned with Army leadership doctrine (Army Doctrine Publication 6-22)

▪ Sergeant — will focus on proficiency and is developmental in nature

▪ Staff sergeant through first sergeant/master sergeant — will focus on organizational systems and processes

▪ Command sergeant major/sergeant major — strategic level report will focus on large organizations and strategic initiative

  • A rater tendency label or rating history for raters of staff sergeant through command sergeant major/sergeant major that will be imprinted on completed NCOER
  • A senior rater profile established for senior raters of staff sergeant through command sergeant major/sergeant major (managed at less than 50 percent in the “most qualified” selection)
  • Delineation of rating officials’ roles and responsibilities to eliminate inconsistent ratings

▪ Rater assesses performance

▪ Senior rater assesses potential

● Assessment format

▪ For raters:

▫ Bullet comments (for sergeant through first sergeant/master sergeant forms)

▫ Narrative comments (for the command sergeant major/sergeant major form)

▪ For senior raters, narrative comments for all forms

  • The senior rater willcounsel the rated NCO, at a minimum, twice during the rating period
  • A supplementary reviewer will be required in some situations where there are non-Army rating officials in the rating chain

Source: U.S. Army Human Resources Command Evaluation, Selections and Promotions Division, Evaluations Branch