A new civilian employee assessment tool that takes a closer look at the skills needed to build readiness among Army Materiel Command’s 90,000 civilian employees is now being implemented by its 10 major subordinate commands.
The Ready Army Civilian program – which is designed to ensure a workforce of high caliber employees who are educated and trained to address vastly complex and strategic situations, and who possess the job skills and experiences to manage and lead in a multi-faceted, readiness-based atmosphere – has been used by AMC headquarters’ 600 civilian employees for the past year. It launched with major subordinate commands in early July and will extend to other organizations within the materiel enterprise by the end of 2021.
“The RAC assessment tool is about giving our workforce the tools they need to perform optimally,” Max Wyche, AMC’s deputy chief of staff for G-1 (Human Resources), said. “The tool will show us how to implement leader development, how to build in training so that employees get the type of training they need to improve performance, and how to provide employees with the type of workplace where they can excel and be more productive so we can achieve the readiness levels the Army is looking for.”
AMC headquarters G-1 staff have been working with representatives of each of its major subordinate commands to ensure a successful introduction of the RAC employee assessment tool, which is accessed through the internal SharePoint site that is supported by the AMC G-2/6 (Information Technology). An operations order was released in February, requiring the identification of RAC administrators at the major subordinate commands, and then detailing the timeline for training and implementation.
“To have a successful roll out of the program, we wanted to make sure our administrators and supervisors, as well as employees, were aware of the RAC tool and how to use it for employee development assessments,” Human resources specialist Ricardo Rivera, AMC’s RAC program manager, said. “Each major subordinate command needed time to identify and train their RAC administrators, and determine what intangible soft skills define readiness for their employees.”
Intangible soft skills include character, attitude, time management, critical thinking, conflict resolution, loyalty, ability to work with teams, communication and listening skills, and work ethic.
Tangible skills – hard requirements that cannot be modified by the major subordinate commands – include degrees, certifications and other training, and the ability to travel, obtain a security clearance and pass a drug test, among other things. They also include self-development, job experience, and leadership and mentorship responsibilities.
Each major subordinate command defines their unique rating criteria and rating system, with RAC designed to support both the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program, and Individual Development Plans already in place for employees.
“AMC leadership wanted to allow every major subordinate command to modify the weights of each skill set because each has a different mission and may need to adjust priorities to reflect that mission,” Rivera said. “The RAC tool is meant to better support the employee’s goals and accomplishments.”
As each major subordinate command prepared to launch RAC, the administrators worked with their leadership to determine preferred skill sets and abilities, and then built a RAC template with those preferences. They then had to input employees into their personnel data system, and train supervisors and employees on how to use the RAC.
“Most of the administrators are from the G-1 (Human Resources) or the G-3 (Operations). They are more likely to have training, workforce development and human capital management as part of their experience,” Rivera said. “Having Human Resources knowledge is definitely a plus for this role, but training knowledge is also important.”
At each major subordinate command, the RAC tool outlines what standards need to be met for employees to be considered Ready Army Civilians, and identifies training or requirement gaps for employees to work toward. While the RAC tool is required of all first-line supervisors, it is optional for employees. The tool is also not tied to promotions or future job opportunities but is rather a personalized way for supervisors and employees to take a closer look at what they can do to improve individual readiness.
“This is all new and it represents change,” Rivera said. “But the hope is the RAC tool helps supervisors facilitate the conversations on professional development they have with subordinates. The tool gives them the opportunity to have a conversation about identified opportunities to maximize their potential.”
The RAC tool has three phases – a supervisory assessment, an employee assessment and then a final reconciliation of the assessments. Employees may opt out from conducting a self-assessment and final resolution but coming to a reconciliation is an opportunity for supervisors and employees to discuss potential development opportunities, said Tim McLean, AMC’s chief of Civilian Workforce and Talent Management Division, G-1. Once they come to a reconciliation, the information is entered anonymously in the RAC system data base so the data can be used to determine training and development opportunities for future employee growth.
This is the first assessment tool that allows Army senior leaders visibility of training gaps and development opportunities, McLean said. All AMC employees will have the opportunity to participate in the RAC assessment program before the end of 2021, providing leadership with enterprise-wide data that will allow them to plan strategically for the allocation of training funds, he said.
“By 1 Oct. 2022, everyone will be on the same schedule with RAC and we will be able to use the data gained to support training budget allocations,” McLean said.
The RAC tool is also of benefit to career program managers who can view the CPM dashboard and identify development gaps they can address in the training opportunities they offer and resource, Rivera said.
“The overall end result is to make good employees better,” McLean said. “It’s about seeing yourself from the top down and the bottom up. It helps you see what you need to work on professionally and then gives you the resources to do that.”
Rivera said more development is ongoing with the RAC tool as insight into professional development is gained from employees throughout the materiel enterprise.
“We hope to integrate the system so we can give the workforce a place to go to request training that satisfies the criteria of their RAC assessment,” Rivera said.