Ask the CHCO: Intel’s Deborah Kircher
In FY14, the Intelligence Community (IC) was ranked one of the best places to work in the Federal government and fourth overall among large agencies.
Workforce engagement done the right way – we could all learn a new strategy or two for engaging our workforce from the US Intelligence Community. Ask the CHCO interview with Deborah Kircher, the Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Human Capital and the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Chief Human Capital Officer, highlights best practice strategies in workplace initiatives that make her and many others share the sentiment, “We’re very honored to be a part of the Intelligence Community.”
Ms. Kircher, who chairs the IC CHCO Council, attributes much of its success to the dedication of a concerted effort and shared vision to the mission by each IC CHCO within the 17 separate government elements that make up the Intelligence Community.
The Council convenes to share best practices, exchange ideas, and reconcile different views with a focus on interagency cooperation and coordination on workforce issues, such as workforce planning, outreach and recruitment, and professional development. She recognizes that the IC is fortunate to have very positive and engaged senior leaders who believe that the Intelligence Community workforce is the most valuable asset of the organization.
Aligning workforce initiatives with the mission of the organization is often a big miss for many. Often looked at as two sides of the same coin, it’s easy to conduct workforce planning in isolation, when in fact each workforce policy, initiative, and plan should be in place to ensure execution of the strategy, support the mission, and nurture the culture.
In 2014, Ms. Kircher led the team that developed and has since begun implementation of the Intelligence Community’s Human Capital Strategic Vision 2020, which focuses on three strategic themes:
- Shaping an effective workforce
- Embracing continuous learning
- Embedding agility, innovation, and inclusion
Shaping an Effective Workforce
Ms. Kircher describes how the Council employs the use of competencies to align workforce capabilities to the mission development of workforce planning. It has also incorporated a mitigation strategy to plan for the attrition associated with the large number of retirement-eligible employees, which could create a significant knowledge gap. The Intelligence Community has created a knowledge capture and transfer strategy to close potential performance gaps by actively developing individuals to fill leadership roles of individuals on the cusp of retirement.
Embracing Continuous Learning
As part of the interagency cooperation and development of an IC Training Council, the majority of the agencies incorporate leadership development with occupation training. This practice provides another opportunity for institutional knowledge transfer as employees participate from across the IC agencies.
Ms. Kircher shares the importance of the Federally chartered National Intelligence University that’s been preparing personnel for senior positions in the Community since 1962. The IC also has a Joint Duty Program, which is a two-year rotational program for GS 11 and above, to prepare them to lead across the agencies. At any given time there are two thousand leaders on joint duty, participating in a learning community and actively transferring institutional knowledge.
Employee Engagement Strategies
The Intelligence Community has a recognition program that recognizes employee accomplishments that contribute to and have a lasting impact on the organization. Both individuals and teams are recognized during quarterly award ceremonies. New this year is the George Washington Spy Master Award, which is the highest level award, presented by the President at a White House ceremony.
Whether is it the shaping an effective workforce; embracing continuous learning, or recognizing and rewarding employees; the practice of workforce engagement begins with senior level commitment and is shaped with collective discipline and interagency cooperation, which as Ms. Kircher states, ultimately fosters a culture that blends with the mission of the Intelligence Community.