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April 19, 2013

NETCOM builds resilience, improves leadership skills

Participants navigate the “mine field” as part of an exercise in focus and communications. Senior command staff from NETCOM participated in a series of activities to improve communications skills April 12.

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – More than 30 senior staff members from the Network Enterprise Technology Command participated in several activities April 12, led by master resilience trainers brought in from Fort Gordon, Ga. The activities were designed to enhance and improve interpersonal communications, and help the group understand methods to reduce improve personal energy recovery.

Anyone who has spent more than a few weeks in the Army knows that stress is inevitable. Whether on the line, in a motor pool or working in cubicles, there are stressors in everyday life; and if it doesn’t happen at work, there are always some at home. For those who have endured the hardships of deployment and combat, even the most minor stressors compounded daily can have a lasting effect.

Coping mechanisms, strategies and techniques to combat those stressors can help Soldiers, Civilians and Families “recharge the batteries,” as one master resilience trainer commented.

“Most of us start at full power at the beginning of the day,” said Megan Marcum, master resilience trainer. “As the day goes on, things happen that drain you; but you still want to get the most out of what you have left.”

Christy Freeman, another master resilience trainer, and Marcum visited with the Network Enterprise Technology Command senior leadership to conduct an afternoon of leadership training activities and energy management techniques. (In this case, energy management is not referring to turning off lights, monitors or unused electronics.)

“If you don’t take some time to recover during the day, your energy level goes down,” Freeman said. “Through the process of deliberate breathing, you can keep up your energy – your optimum productivity – throughout the day.”

Participants in strategy and communications exercise attempt to lower a hoop. Senior command staff from NETCOM participated in a series of activities to improve communications skills April 12.

For their part, Freeman and Marcum represent one of the five pillars of the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness-Training Program. They are the master resilience trainers who visit organizations to help others by providing performance enhancement training – another pillar of the CSF2 program. According to Army Directive 2013-07 – the Secretary of the Army memo formally establishing the CSF2 program – the mission of the program itself is to improve the physical and psychological health and resilience of Soldiers, their Families and Department of the Army Civilians, and to enhance their performance by providing self-assessment and training capabilities aligned to five key functional areas – Physical, Emotional, Social, Spiritual, and Family – known as the “Five Dimensions of Strength.”

In the directive’s enclosures, Energy Management is a learned process; one that teaches practical skills to build, sustain and restore personal energy to minimize the effects of stress. This includes relaxation and sleeping techniques, as well as bio-feedback technology. The goal of this kind of training is to help an individual learn techniques to maintain composure and succeed under stressful situations.

Another method to reduce stress includes one that most don’t attribute to stress reduction – communication. How frustrating is it to talk to someone, only to later realize through their action (or inaction) that they didn’t understand what the task was? Stress caused by a lack of communication.

To work on communications, Marcum and Freeman conducted some team building exercises intended to increase the proficiency of communication and understanding among the senior members of NETCOM. While some of the exercise resembled games, they were all exercises in communication and teamwork – the keys to developing cohesion among the members of the team and improve unit and individual performance.

“You had to tune everybody else out and focus,” said 1st Sgt. Sophia Hart, Headquarters Company first sergeant. “You had to learn to listen to your leader in order to navigate through the field. It was good training for a crowded office environment. It helps learn to tune out the noise from the instructions you needed to accomplish the mission.”

“The ‘minefield’ exercise requires you to talk your partner through the minefield (balls of paper),” Freeman said. “There needs to be effective communications between the two and focus, because there are other distractions going on. It really requires patience and focus.”

“The key for all the exercises was proper communication,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Alan Savage, acting Command Chaplain. “Each exercise required a different communication skill and you had to figure out which skill was necessary to make it through. It showed that we are all connected in some way, as in life we are all connected.”

Other activities built on the communications exercises, requiring the participants to adjust communications to the activity. Several of the participants realized quickly that not everyone thinks the same way, and that solutions can come from one person or a combination of ideas.

“When you first start on the task, it seemed everyone had their own idea of how to get it done,” Marcum said. “It was after talking as a team that the best idea would come out.”

Communications, Freeman says, is a majority of what the team building exercises are designed to facilitate.

“(Communication) will enhance teams and their interaction with each other,” Freeman said.

“We want them to walk away, knowing how to be efficient and effective as individuals,” Marcum said. “This will allow the team to grow and thrive.”




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