AF manpower, personnel, services leader talks

WASHINGTON — The Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services spoke on recruiting and retaining the best and brightest and keeping military families together during an Air Force Association breakfast Oct. 12 in Arlington, Virginia.

Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso is responsible for strength management, education and training, compensation, resource allocation, and the worldwide Air Force services program.

Grosso sees her responsibilities as encompassing a “cradle to grave” approach to human resources, from recruitment and development to assignments and retention, she said. This also includes sustaining and regenerating Airmen and family programs to ensure their care and wellness.

“Our personnel system is really rounded and all encompassing, (so we) have to really think – how do we tap into the talent that we have all across the Air Force,” Grosso said.

The Defense Department is leading the way with transformational efforts that will greatly modernize Air Force policies, with the ultimate goal of optimizing recruitment, retention, and overall productivity. The Air Force has cross-functional working groups aiming to accomplish those objectives and the initiatives of the Human Capital Annex to the Air Force Strategic Master Plan, the Air Force’s core strategic document.

Following the annex, the service will modernize its approaches to attracting and recruiting, development, talent management, resiliency, retention, diversity and inclusion, and optimize its approach as a total force of active-duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

“How do we think differently about matching people’s desires with the big requirements of the Air Force?” Grosso asked. “We’re going to let individuals define themselves – these are qualitative characteristics. Then our (recruiters) will be able to define what they are looking for, and then we’re going to do a match. We’ll compare that with traditional processes and see if we’re doing better.”

Grosso also noted more joint spouses are being assigned together.

“There is a very high success rate,” she said. “We match 95 percent, so it’s higher than people think … I think we can get to 100 percent, but it requires us to think differently.”

Career progression is another area Grosso wants to improve on.

According to Grosso, many people are happy where they are but have to move when they get promoted. In the future, Grosso hopes that system can be improved upon as well.

The all-volunteer Air Force competes with some of the best companies for human resources, and these companies are becoming smarter at attracting and retaining the country’s top talent by understanding the demands of millennials, she said.

The Air Force must increase attraction and retain talent in order to meet the challenges of the future, Grosso added. Talent management is about more than numbers; it’s about what is gained as an organization with diversity of thought and experience. Leadership will continue to think of ways to increase diversity and inclusion, not just for today’s Airmen, but to ensure tomorrow’s Airmen are part of the team to bring Air Force capabilities to the joint fight.

“It’ll be interesting to see how all those come together,” she said. “I think we’ll see a very different assignment process in the end, and hopefully satisfaction will go up.”