SAN ANTONIO – U.S. Army Installation Management Command walks the talk, increasing its investment in employee development through a revitalized, year-long mentorship program, which kicked off with a three day orientation July 15. Twenty-eight mentees paired with their 28 mentors and five senior mentors, from installations around the globe, gathered to begin participation in the IMCOM Headquarters Centralized Mentoring Program.
Maj. Gen. Camille Nichols, IMCOM’s deputy commanding general, praised the participants for their initiative.
“I commend you all for being here,” Nichols said, “and taking that first step. You’re your own best personnel manager. When I look back there were times I really did need some guidance and still do to this day. . . I believe you never stop that opportunity.”
Ms. Karen Perkins, IMCOM director of human resources, spoke about the personal impact of the “Army’s investment.”
“The power in this room and the potential here in this room is exponential,” Perkins said. “Think about how much knowledge, skill and life experience that you have to give to this program over the next year. This is about individual leadership, too. It’s a life changing opportunity.”
Workforce development/human resources specialist, Debbie Caraway, believes this year’s holistic approach combined with the direct impact of capstone projects on IMCOM’s lines of effort may yield immediate results in individual professional development and organizational process improvements.
“The goal is to provide growth experiences that will allow (participants) to accept positions of greater responsibility,” said Caraway. “It contributes to building the bench and is very important during this time of dynamic change within the Department of Defense to provide the people in the organization the opportunity to enhance their individual capabilities. It ensures loyalty, a better skilled, more capable team member and mission capability for the organization.”
With volunteered help from community, business and education partners, such as United Services Automotive Association social media team, National Basketball Association’s San Antonio Spurs organizational management team, University of Texas San Antonio career services division and U.S. Army Medical Command partners, the mentor/mentee teams spent time on team building, leadership, organizational development, defining the objectives and desired outcome of the program and general discussion about skills, career goal setting, networking, continued education, customer service and the health/work performance relationship.
Caraway described it as a 360 degree growth opportunity that turns “individual development into mission success.”
“The holistic perspective is going to address academics,” Caraway said, “it’s going to address commercial activities . . . and those skills related to service providers. It links into the CG’s lines of effort and priorities for the organization and it will allow participants to grow as individuals in many areas, not just their individual functional expertise.”
Following orientation, mentees travel to their respective mentor’s installation and shadow them at work before the longest and final phase of the program begins in earnest – capstone projects.
“We’ve developed a project menu based on command lines of effort and our intent is for the teams to take on something of value to the organization,” said Caraway. “They’ll have to develop a problem statement, to identify an expected outcome, a briefing that will include recommendations to leadership. It’s growth for the individual to develop things like mission assessments and working problem resolution and it provides an opportunity to develop project management skills,” said Caraway.
Projects, like human capital development, will be briefed to senior mentors at the programs conclusion and according to Caraway, these projects and participants’ efforts lead to innovations and improvements.
One of the selected mentors, Paul Yoshimiya of U.S. Army Garrison Benelux, saw immediate value in the program – personal and professional – when he first participated as a menthe.
“My whole goal was to come back as a mentor,” Yoshimiya said. “I spent a couple dozen years in the Army and mentoring is ingrained into the system and on the civilian side it really isn’t. It is one team and one fight and when you leave your foxhole and you are able to meet people, talk to people, have a mentor to go to, you’ll make positive impact. It’s not a year program. It’s a relationship for life.”
The HCMP is an annual program that runs for 12 months. It is open to civilians command wide – garrisons, regions, IMCOM headquarters and Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management staff. Mentor participants are employees in grades 13-15 (or equivalent) and mentees are employees in grades GS 11-13 (or equivalent). The program also includes non-appropriated fund and local national employees. Mentor and mentee applications for the next session will be available in Spring 2015.
For more information, contact IMCOM headquarters workforce development team at (210) 466-0402 or IMCOM regional workforce development staff.