New AFMC supervisor course aims to develop stronger leaders

  • Published
  • By Marisa Alia-Novobilski
  • Air Force Materiel Command

The Air Force Materiel Command beta-tested a new Supervisor Development Course Oct. 27-29 in an effort to better equip first-line supervisors with the tools, knowledge and expertise to successfully lead command teams.

The course is a complement to the mandatory supervisor training provided by the Air Force and offers supervisors in-depth knowledge of personnel and workplace policies as well as the opportunity for practical application of concepts through case studies and collaborative learning.

“Feedback from multiple command-wide surveys such as the AFMC We Need, DEOCS (Defense Organizational Climate Survey) and FEVS (Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey) indicates that our civilian first-line supervisors aren’t receiving the training they need,” said Patricia M. Young, AFMC Executive Director. “The AFMC Supervisor Development Course is not intended to replace or impede existing leader development efforts which address the myriad of human domain competencies successful leaders must possess and continuously refine. Rather, it was developed to expand on current developmental efforts and serve as an investment in our first-line supervisor’s growth as we posture them for success.”

Nearly a dozen supervisors attended the in-person beta course held at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and future instructional leaders logged in virtually to observe their content areas. Topics covered 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; workforce incentives and awards; and more.

Each day ended with practical application of skills through case study application under the guidance of an experienced mentor, offering a peer-supported, active-learning experience in a guided environment.

“The AFMC course is taught in a manner to provide deeper comprehension of human resources concepts with a student handbook designed to sustain what was learned in the classroom while providing quick reference on the job,” said Gregory Diehl, AFMC Employee Development Manager and course lead. “Additionally, class mentors help the supervisors understand the importance of the material and relate their experiences concerning the challenges and rewards of being a supervisor.”

Gregory Buck, a Contract Depot Maintenance Section Chief at the 420th Supply Chain Maintenance Squadron at Hill AFB said that he found the course to be extremely helpful, particularly given the opportunities for practical application of policies that can seem complex and confusing.

 “This course is a perfect stepping stone a new supervisor needs to successfully lead their team and manage their employees,” said Buck. “Real life examples and case studies make it easy to stay focused by giving a glimpse of the challenges a supervisor may face while providing the resources and knowledge on how to handle them.”

Shannon Schaefer, a section chief at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, found the course to be a great way to reinforce the computer-based supervisor training while also providing networking opportunities with other supervisors who they could turn to during times of need.

“The main highlight was realizing supervising is a team effort, and we have a touch point with specialists to assist us with admin efforts so we are able to stay focused on mission goals. This course will be essential for new supervisors as well as an excellent refresher for those that are more seasoned,” she said.

The long-term plan is for the course to be a one-time, in-person requirement for AFMC supervisors, with the final course to roll out to AFMC centers and installations starting in January 2021. Course leaders are currently looking at alternative learning options that take into account the current COVID-19 environment while still providing for an on-target official launch date for the course.

AFMC supervisors of civilian employees at non-AFMC installations will be reached through virtual methods after the course content has been fielded and properly validated.

“This is a developmental opportunity unlike anything else that is being offered through other venues,” said Young. “It’s just one way we’re working to help build the supervisors and leaders that the AFMC needs to continue to be successful into the future.”