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Posted 11/2/2016

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By Patrice Creel
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Public Affairs


The Engineer Research and Development Center’s Directorate of Human Capital oversees the popular eight-month career enhancement opportunity known as the Leadership Development Program Level One, and planning is under way for fiscal year 2017 classes.

Through an application process, team members are selected with supervisor approval by their labs and offices to join LDP 1, which focuses on self-assessments and learning leadership lessons.

“One of ERDC’s key priorities is to invest in its employees and develop future leaders through training and development activities as part of the ERDC Leadership Development Program,” said Human Capital Director Dr. Gary Anderton. “LDP provides ERDC federal employees with the opportunity to refine their leadership skills.”

Anderton said the DHC is planning to expand LDP participation by 50 percent in FY17, after a successful three-year ERDC-wide implementation.

Current participants

Vicksburg’s 40 LDP 1 participants recently completed their program and received their graduation certificates at their respective town halls. Construction Engineering Research Laboratory’s class of 2016 numbered 17 team members, and Geospatial Research Laboratory’s level one students numbered 15, all of whom will be recognized for completing LDP 1 at their labs.

These participants attended classes, read topical books and completed self-assessments offering insightful revelations, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator personality instrument for Vicksburg and the Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness assessment tool, also known as DiSC, experienced at CERL and GRL.

Final projects

Putting their leadership skills to work, LDP 1 groups coordinated assigned projects that benefit ERDC. For example, the Environmental Laboratory sponsored an Earth Day Observance where sixth-graders from four local Vicksburg schools participated in a nature scavenger hunt and learned about ERDC’s conservation efforts in a variety of science-based booths on the headquarters’ front lawn.

The Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory FY16 LDP 1 participants organized the CHL Town Hall in the spring, and helped with script writing, conducting the rehearsal, providing a master of ceremonies and coordinating a post-event meal.

CERL’s LDP 1 team is working on a project related to responses to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey questions. They reviewed responses from CERL employees to the fiscal year 2015FEVS questions, analyzed them and generated action items on how to improve employee morale, training and hiring, with the goal of improving future responses to the FEVS.

GRL LDP 1 participants’ projects include:

  • Knowledge Transfer - Transition knowledge among employees who are leaving/retiring and the remaining employees. 
  • Talent Pool - Suggest new internal developmental opportunities for employees to gain experiences in the Army Geospatial Center and GRL and allow projects to gain valuable talent from within.
  • Career Progression - Provide recommendations to help develop career progression “certification” for each career track in CERL so everyone begins and progresses through their career paths on the same page. 
  • Relationship Building - Improve communication and relationships between GRL/AGC leadership, research staff and support staff by gathering feedback on the preferred method of communication. 
  • Coffee with Director - Lead informal gathering held by Dr. Joseph Fontanella inviting all AGC and GRL employees to interact with him on a personal level. Not only would this gathering serve as a social mechanism for everyone in the organization to get to know each other and the leadership better, but it also could serve as important feedback for the director to help improve morale and retention.

LDP’s origins and coordinators

Organized in 2002 by EL’s leaders, the first LDP class graduated in 2003. The 2013 expansion included ERDC’s Directorate of Enterprise Operations when the entire program also came under the direction of DHC.

Each lab and DEO has volunteer LDP coordinators who work with the ERDC LDP coordinators in scheduling LDP activities. Recently retired Vicksburg LDP coordinator John Files coordinated LDP 1 and 2 for the past 14 years, organizing the speakers, resource vendors, materials, logistics and requirements. Files noted the efforts and skills of Vicksburg volunteers serving this program have resulted in improved expansions each year.

Until her recent transfer within Information Technology Laboratory, Vernessa Noye was the longest-serving lab/DEO LDP coordinator. “We introduce the LDP programs at our town halls to generate interest. Word of mouth does that also as we ask past participants to share their experiences. Our supervisors and technical directors get involved with the selection process, since they know about workloads and availabilities. These programs do take time and require dedication to complete,” Noye said.

Upcoming sessions

Each program starts with a kick-off orientation, and the DHC provides the books, instructors and materials for the program, labor for LDP coordinators, as well as contract vendors. Participants’ labor is covered by their respective labs and DEO. Participants complete evaluations to gauge successes and suggest improvements.

For more information on LDP 1 and LDP 2, contact Dr. Andrea Scott, development program manager, at Andrea.M.Scott@usace.army.mil, and consider applying for future LDP programs.

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