Unlocking the Power of People: How the Army’s People Strategy May Guide Leader’s to Understand Millennials and gen-Z
As an organization, the United States Army has traditionally been known for its strength and power – both in capability and the quality of its people. But with the dynamic global landscape necessitating greater levels of innovation and adaptability, a closer look at how the Army is empowering its people to better lead has become increasingly important. That’s why understanding the Army People Strategy is critical; it provides the framework for the Army to ensure that its personnel have all the resources necessary to excel in today’s ever-evolving environment.
- Army People Strategy Overview
- Strategies to Develop Leadership
- Understanding and Improving the Culture
- Strengthening Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Enhancing Social Engagement
- Leveraging Data and Technology
- Strategies for Enhancing Recruitment & Retention
- Utilizing Performance Measurement
- Can Senior Leaders Adjust?
As an organization, the United States Army has traditionally been known for its strength and power – both in capability and the quality of its people. But with the dynamic global landscape necessitating significant innovation and adaptability, a closer look at how the Army empowers its people to lead better has become increasingly important. That’s why understanding the Army’s People Strategy is critical; it provides the framework for the Army to ensure that its personnel have all the resources necessary to excel in today’s ever-evolving environment. At its core, the Army People Strategy focuses on personnel development, care, and management to ensure they have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to excel in the multi-domain operations (MDO) environment. The strategy uses an analytical approach to examine and evaluate recruiting, retention, education, and training trends to ensure the Army meets its many stakeholders’ needs. By taking an inclusive and holistic view of personnel capabilities, the Army can identify gaps and develop strategies to fill those gaps for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. By mastering the art of leading and leadership development, the Army is taking the necessary steps to ensure that the right people are in the right place and time to lead us to success in the Joint Force. That’s why it’s so important to take a comprehensive look at the Army People Strategy to understand how the Army plans to maintain its edge as the world’s most capable land combat force.
Army People Strategy Overview
At its core, the Army People Strategy is a comprehensive approach to personnel management. It covers various areas, including leadership development, culture and inclusion, social engagement, data and technology, recruitment and retention, performance measurement, and more. Through data-driven decision-making, the strategy helps the Army anticipate and respond to the changing needs of its personnel. The Army People Strategy is unique in that it requires leaders to tailor their organizations to the specific needs of the Army. Leaders designed the strategy to ensure that the Army has the right people in the right place and at the right time to ensure the Army is ready for all challenges. To that end, the strategy seeks to ensure that the Army can quickly bring in personnel with the right skills and that the current personnel is well-equipped to meet the requirements of the Army’s mission.
Strategies to Develop Leadership
One of the most critical aspects of the Army People Strategy is the development of leadership skills. Leadership development is essential to ensure the Army can effectively manage and lead its personnel. The strategy recognizes the need to develop and nurture current and future leaders who can inspire and motivate the troops and ensure the mission succeeds. To that end, the Army People Strategy emphasizes developing leadership skills through education and training. The strategy looks to harness the talent and potential of current and future leaders through leadership development courses, which focus on problem-solving, decision-making, and other critical skills. Through these courses, the Army hopes to ensure personnel have the skills and knowledge to lead and manage personnel during any mission effectively.
Understanding and Improving the Culture
The Army People Strategy also places a strong emphasis on understanding and improving the culture within the Army. The strategy looks to ensure that the Army’s culture is inclusive and positive and reflects the Army’s values as an organization. To that end, the system focuses on understanding the current culture and providing the resources and support necessary to improve it. The Army People Strategy recognizes that the key to enhancing the culture is to foster an environment where personnel can communicate, express themselves, and excel. Specifically military millennials. To that end, the strategy looks to create an environment where personnel feel empowered and motivated to do their best. By fostering an open and inclusive culture, the Army hopes to ensure that personnel can work together effectively and efficiently and identify and solve problems quickly and efficiently.
Strengthening Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Army People Strategy also emphasizes the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. The strategy ensures that the Army can recruit, retain, and promote diverse personnel who bring different perspectives and experiences to the organization. By embracing diversity and inclusion, the Army hopes to create a more inclusive and equitable environment for personnel. Leaders should treat everyone with dignity and respect. To that end, the strategy emphasizes creating an environment free of discrimination and harassment. The design also seeks to promote the recruitment and retention of minority personnel to create a more diverse and inclusive environment.
Enhancing Social Engagement
The Army People Strategy also seeks to enhance the social engagement of personnel. The strategy ensures that personnel have the support and resources necessary to create meaningful connections with each other. Social engagement includes providing personnel with opportunities to connect in meaningful ways, such as through professional development courses and mentorship programs. The Army People Strategy also ensures personnel can access the tools and resources necessary to create and maintain meaningful social relationships. This includes providing personnel with the tools and resources essential to stay connected with their peers, both online and offline. Through these efforts, the Army hopes to ensure personnel have the support and resources necessary to stay connected and engaged.
Leveraging Data and Technology
The Army People Strategy also looks to leverage the power of data and technology. The strategy seeks to ensure the Army can access and analyze the data necessary to make informed decisions. This includes using data-driven decision-making to ensure that personnel have the resources required to meet the needs of the mission. The Army People Strategy also seeks to use technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of personnel management. This includes using automated systems and software to streamline personnel management processes and ensure that personnel can access the resources and tools necessary to stay informed and connected. The Army hopes to create a more efficient and effective personnel management system through these efforts.
Strategies for Enhancing Recruitment & Retention
The Army People Strategy also seeks to enhance the recruitment and retention of personnel. The strategy looks to ensure that the Army can recruit personnel with the right skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the mission. This includes using targeted recruitment campaigns to ensure that the Army can recruit personnel with the right skills and qualifications. The Army People Strategy also emphasizes the importance of retention. The strategy ensures that personnel can stay in the Army long term. To that end, the process seeks to offer personnel the necessary resources and tools to enjoy a productive career in the Army. This includes providing personnel with educational opportunities, access to career counseling, and other resources to ensure that personnel can stay in the Army for the long term.
Utilizing Performance Measurement
The Army People Strategy also emphasizes the importance of performance measurement. The strategy looks to ensure that the Army can measure and assess the performance of personnel to ensure that they can meet the needs of the mission. This includes using data-driven decision-making to identify areas for improvement and ensure that personnel can reach their full potential. The Army People Strategy also seeks to ensure that personnel can access the resources necessary to perform at their best. This includes providing personnel with access to data and other resources essential to ensure that they can measure their performance and make changes required to improve it. Through these efforts, the Army hopes to ensure that personnel can effectively measure and assess their performance to maximize their effectiveness.
Can Senior Army Leaders Recognize the Generational Differences of Military Millennials?
Military millennials are set to take over most leadership positions in the Army within the next two to three years, highlighting the need for updated leadership models that align with their characteristics. Research has shown that millennials possess different work and leadership values than the current generation of leadership, and changes in how organizations approach leadership and management are demanded. The current Army leadership models are outdated and incompatible with millennials’ values and the present operational environment, necessitating adjustments to the Army leadership model and doctrines. Senior Army leaders need to recognize the generational differences carried by millennials and the need for practical actions from the lower echelons to change the Army culture and doctrines. Some military leadership models today are over 30 years old and the Army should provide updates to align with millennials’ characteristics and the current operational environment.
There lack of change or the forcing of the proverbial square peg into a round hole only works for so long. Incremental improvements and innovative approaches to leadership are necessary to enhance millennials’ effectiveness as leaders and to gain a sense of ownership of their organization. This lack of these efforts reflect in the lack of recruiting and commission numbers. Additionally, the civilian leaders who over-politicize a non-political organization only highlight why the Army and general military service is falling out of favor. Therefore, senior Army leaders must take action to adapt and improve the Army leadership models to meet the changing requirements of the operational environment and the millennial generation.
Remember, millennials have more options.
They also have a different definition of success and accomplishment. The ‘legacy’ enlisted and officer career path are dated. The change to the retirement system is a start. Portability, flexibilit, and
- Corporate Learning: the Army has a formal education system for enlisted and commissioned officers, but it should be more than a ‘check the block’. This area has room to grow and improve.
- Purpose: a combination of the Army Values and the Five Dimensions of Personal Wellness are a great start.
- Culture: leaders need to get over themselves, if you do not like change, move out. Culture is more than just DEI, it is also the culture of generational thought and leadership; times change, people change
- Flexibility: the pandemic showed soldiers that leaders are uncomfortable with change and still cannot figure out how to use PowerPoint, Excel, and the mute button on a video call. Leaders need to think outside the box to make the garrison environment as productive as possible; too many soldiers still wait around for tasks with poor resourcing and guidance like it was the 90’s.
- Responsibilities: the Army is organically an on-the-job environment, but leaders lack the ability to provide the proper guidance and mentorship to provide meaning behind what soldiers are asked (or implied) to do.
- Strong Manager / Employee Relationships: by a show of hands, how many junior enlisted and company grade/new Field Grade officers have received a proper and thoughtful counseling and onboarding at their units. We know that an overwhelming majority do not, leading to a lack of faith in the organization
- Innovation: too many senior leaders and DA Civilians subscribe to “this is how we always do it”
- Room to Fail: for commissioned officers, an up-or-out system supported by an old-school state of thinking by current senior leaders leads many to depart after ‘paying for college’ with their first tour; officers with options depart leading to a vacuum in talent
- Volunteer Opportunities: soldiers and units need to have a voice and buy-in in their volunteer efforts; there are too many ‘mandatory events’ where personnel lose interest
- Perks: the Army has great perks, but fails miserably on delivery due to a few critical factors
- Senior leaders treat leave as a coordinated mass event, little to no flexibility
- Work-Life balance is purely command dictated; hit-or-miss
- Not enough white space for personal endeavors (college, hobbies, family, etc.)
- Lack of quality training; see purpose, room to fail, and culture
We say again, military millennials have more options. Many more options than the current field of senior leaders experience 20+ years ago.
The Army People Strategy is a comprehensive approach to personnel management, leadership development, and is a critical component of the Army’s efforts to remain the world’s most capable land combat force. By taking an analytical approach to personnel management, the Army can leverage data and technology to identify gaps, develop strategies to close gaps and measure progress to ensure that personnel have the resources necessary to excel in the MDO environment. By investing in leadership development, understanding and improving culture, strengthening diversity and inclusion, enhancing social engagement, leveraging data and technology, and utilizing performance measurement, the Army is taking the necessary steps to ensure that the right people are in the right place, at the right time, to lead us to success in the Joint Force.
- Assistant Secretary of the Army, Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “The Army People Strategy.” Alexandria, WA: United States Amy, October 2019. https://www.army.mil/e2/downloads/rv7/the_army_people_strategy_2019_10_11_signed_final.pdf.
- Hunt Stevens, Susan. “10 Things Millennials Look for in a Job.” WeSpire, May 4, 2019. https://www.wespire.com/blog/10-things-millennials-look-for-in-an-employer.