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Supervisor course gets off to smooth start

Robert Martin, employee-management relations specialist at the 88th Force Support Squadron’s Civilian Personnel Office, teaches a portion of the Air Force Materiel Command Supervisor Development Course remotely from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Education Center on Jan. 14. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/R.J. ORIEZ

Robert Martin, employee-management relations specialist at the 88th Force Support Squadron’s Civilian Personnel Office, teaches a portion of the Air Force Materiel Command Supervisor Development Course remotely from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Education Center on Jan. 14. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/R.J. ORIEZ

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Dozens of first-line supervisors at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are starting the year with newly acquired or updated skills, thanks to an inaugural course from Air Force Materiel Command that augments mandatory supervisor training.

Gen. Arnold W. Bunch,  Jr. AFMC commander, issued a directive to provide more training to supervisors of civilian employees.

“In order for AFMC to be successful, we need supervisors who are proficient in all areas, with both the technical and leadership skills to guide our teams into the future,” he said. “This course is an opportunity to improve skillsets and grow leaders in our organization.”

The AFMC Supervisor Development Course was implemented virtually Jan. 12-14 by the Education and Training Office at Wright-Patterson AFB and Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, for 67 new and experienced supervisors.

Wright-Patterson AFB has the largest population of civilian supervisors in AFMC. To meet this need, Education and Training has scheduled 14 classes this year – 40% more than any other AFMC installation, said Robert Brooks, training specialist.

“The course was put together to address feedback in the AFMC ‘We Need’ survey and a myriad of other broad-based surveys and assessments,” he said. “Supervisors who have recently attended Mandatory Supervisor Training were also queried and the data indicated that a knowledge gap still existed after attendance in the courses. Therefore, AFMC is addressing the knowledge gap by providing training designed to complement, not replace, mandatory supervisory training.”

Topics included: human resource policy and guidance; employee attendance and leave administration; equal employment opportunity programs; discipline and adverse action; administrative-grievance procedures; performance plans and appraisals; and workforce incentives and awards.

Course organizers and implementers welcome the investment in first-line supervisor growth as they manage workloads and personnel in today’s challenging environment.

“The three-day commitment to the course has the potential to realize several benefits: The application of the content provided could free up time between supervisors and personnelists with less back-and-forth contact, better decision-making resulting in fewer personnel actions and a more productive workforce,” Brooks said.

Bryan Kaut, the AFMC SDC manager at Tinker, said many people are needed to make the Supervisor Development Course happen.

“The commitment to having subject-matter experts available for every subject was a huge success,” he added. “Our SMEs contributed a robust knowledge to the class that you could not put into an instructor’s guide. This class was like having your own supervisory expert coaching you on every subject.”

JC Snediker, the 88th Air Base Wing’s chief of protocol, said he has been a governmental supervisor for about 15 months and wanted to attend the course to learn something new and grow his supervisory skills.

“Compared to the civilian sector, supervising government employees can have some additional challenges,” he said. “Staying up-to-date on what resources are available is important for both new and seasoned supervisors.”

Julie Sutton, 88th Communications Squadron supervisor of network enterprise services, said she was very pleased with the course’s virtual offering due to the current public health crisis and the presentation of information works well in that environment.

“This was by far the most comprehensive and best training I have taken as a government supervisor,” she said. “The presenters were all very knowledgeable and conveyed an understanding of the nuances we all face with high-functioning teams and how best to lead them.”

Sutton added she now has a much better understanding of how to apply the tools available to supervisors and will benefit from having contacts in each discipline she can reach out to if she has future questions.

Brooks picked up on that point.

“I hope the supervisors recognize the value of collaboration. Reaching out for help through a mentor/peer or helping agency represents a strength, not a weakness,” he said. “They are not alone.”

Snediker said his takeaway from the course is the “importance of caring for our Airmen – be engaged and listen. The pandemic has impacted the way we conduct business both at home and in the workplace. With telework, the challenge now is: How do we successfully balance having our workplace inside our home? As supervisors we need to help our work family and ensure they have the right tools to accomplish the mission.”

The AFMC Supervisor Development Course is an opportunity unlike anything else being offered through other venues, said Patricia Young, AFMC executive director.

“It’s just one way we’re working to help build the supervisors and leaders that AFMC needs to continue to be successful into the future,” she said.

“It is a tremendous course to be a part of and an honor to be the senior mentor for the inaugural course,” added Kristine Freels, 88th Force Support Squadron director: