Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Supervisors Work for the Marketing Department

I have this impression at the office that training is not allowed.  The entire government is operating without a budget, bouncing from one continuing resolution to the next fighting for every penny.  The Army is ordered to cut back from its war-time budget and workforce numbers and many expenses, including the organization's training budget, have been cut.  That's the message from the top of the command.  But then there is this contradictory message from my supervisors that "mission essential training" is still in the budget.  
And I say to that, "Well, which is it?"  
Either there is training or there isn't.  Was the training budget used up with frivolous fluff in the past and now all training requests are heavily audited?  Or is there really not any training budget but maybe they can move some money from another line item to fill in a skill gap?  Neither situation does anything for me.  I mean, how do you train for a job you're already overqualified for?  
And it's not limited to any one industry but I see it most clearly where I'm standing.  It isn't even really about the training.  The problem, one of many I have right now, is that the leaders in the organization aren't communicating.  When anyone in the workforce has the impression that there are conflicting messages from the various levels in the organization, then someone has failed to communicate.  Anybody in marketing will tell you that no matter how many times you think you said something, if your audience didn't hear your message, the communications problem is on your end.  
Over the past several months, from the furloughs this summer to the latest government shutdown, the workforce has been brought together to hear numerous presentations about where the command is going from here.  We are told all about the budget reduction plans, workforce realignment, new missions as we transform to support various definitions of "internet-capable", etc.  These town hall meetings have one thing in common.  They are all 30,000-foot high level fly-over death by PowerPoint.  
All these grand schemes never get communicated down to my level as a, "Here's what you need to do to support the command going forward."  I've been on several projects that didn't make it into the Army's vision of a networked military, so someone saying, "Here's the project you should work for and we're actually keeping this one."  Or even, "We're not keeping this project but you've helped shut three down so do that here."  Or better yet, "We have the need for this set of skills going forward and here's how you apply for the training to support that."  So it really is all about the training.