McConville discusses talent management to staff & faculty

Story and photo by Michelle Eberhart Assistant Editor

February 2nd, 2017 | News, News and Features
Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, speaks with U.S. Military Academy staff and faculty, Jan. 26 at the West Point Club.

Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, discussed talent management during a leader professional development session with West Point staff and faculty, Jan. 26 at the West Point Club.

Because readiness is the Army’s number one priority, McConville explained that the way the Army manages talent must be improved in order to hold true to that precedent. McConville says that the Army’s most powerful asset is the talent of its people, so it must manage that talent to best utilize each individual’s skillset.

The first thing, McConville suggested, is that the Army must transition from managing talent by rank and MOS to using multiple variables.

“What we manage you all by right now is basically two variables, you’re a captain of infantry, you’re a sergeant of engineers,” he said. “We really don’t have the capability to define you maybe with 25 or 30 variables, you have a Ph.D. in that, you have a Master’s degree in this, you speak this many languages…”

McConville said the process will change and the way the Army manages talent will become more multidimensional in order to create a higher quality force. In doing so, the Army will employ a new integrated personnel and pay system to have visibility over the entire force, highlighting each individual’s knowledge base and skills.

Furthermore, McConville says that each member of the force will have to fight on the battlefield away and at home.

“Every single Soldier in the United States Army needs to be able to get in the field and play the position both home and away,” he said. “We have about 10 percent of our Soldiers who are non-deployable.”

As the force increases from 460,000 to 476,000, McConville expects the percentage of non-deployable Soldiers to decrease so the U.S. Army can present the highest quality force possible in order to better prepare for a “dispersed” and “lethal” future battlefield.

“We are going to need different types of people to lead on this battlefield and so that’s what we got to do, we have to bring together these multi-dimensional teams that can work together,” he said. “It’s going to take certain types of leaders, leaders of character that you all develop, and then we got to make sure that we are able to differentiate talent and really optimize the force.”

In addition to obtaining Soldiers and leaders of character, McConville said that the Army needs Soldiers who are resilient, fit, committed, adaptive, trusted and represent the diversity of the American people.

After acquiring such qualities, the Army must then develop, employ and retain that talent.

One way to ensure the Army gets the quality Soldiers it needs for the future, he suggests, is through the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, which will help better determine Soldiers’ MOS’s and Soldiers who are “ready to start” upon entering the Army.

After acquisition, the Army plans to develop Soldiers through tactical, institutional and scholastic broadening assignments.

For example, a Rhodes Scholar would be encouraged to continue his or her education without fear of missing promotion. Likewise, a Soldier with a highly tactical skillset could be sent to a Ranger battalion so their talents would be best utilized.

“If you get people doing what they want to do, going where they want to go, they may do it better,” he suggested.

After developing Soldiers’ talents, the Army hopes to employ certain skillsets to match the best qualified Soldiers in the right jobs.

“What we’re trying to do is learn, what type of variables do we want to know about somebody? And then we want leaders to say this is the type of people we need,” he continued.

Finally, after acquiring the cream of the crop, developing their skills, and employing them in the right positions, the Army must retain that talent for as long as they can.

As of right now, he said, only 10 percent enlisted Soldiers and 30 percent of officers stay in the Army for 20 years.

“We’re trying to keep the best talent,” McConville said. “The more talent you have, the more capability you have, the more options you have, and we should compete for those folks, if we can.”