EL SEGUNDO, Calif — The U.S. Space Force’s Talent Management Office (TMO) conducted a town hall meeting at Space Systems Command to discuss and reinforce the implementation of the Guardian Ideal, July 13.
The Guardian Ideal, initially employed in September 2021, is a foundational document creating a new talent management approach to build upon each individual’s unique strengths and empower interconnected high-performing teams.
“The Guardian Ideal is the Chief of Space Operations’ human capital strategy, designed to onboard talent with the character and potential to excel,” said Robert Romer, director of the Talent Management Office (TMO) for the U.S. Space Force. “We empower them with information and choice, develop them in line with their desires and Space Force needs, to create the high-performing teams we need to secure and defend space. Very important to stress that everything we do for human capital is based on Space Force requirements”
Creating the Guardian Ideal for the more than 16,000 military and civilian Guardians in the Space Force builds the mindset for a modern warfighter. Its intent is to develop Guardians and equip them with a deep understanding of military operations and mastery of joint warfighting required to defend the nation’s interest in space.
According to Romer, the Guardian Commitment, a social contract designed to bring focus to the mission and strengthen teams, is a critical foundation to achieving that goal.
“Commitment is our foundation. If you’re not a good team player, you’re probably not going to progress in the Space Force,” he said.
“Know the Guardian Commitment,” added Dr. Matthew Jobe, chief learning officer and director of Guardian Development for the U.S. Space Force’s TMO. He referred to the three components of Guardian Commitment: USSF values, team leader responsibilities and team member responsibilities.
Jobe explained a Guardian Commitment Guide is also in development, which will provide more depth and context for each value of “I will” statements under each team member and team leader responsibilities. Based on these “I will” statements, expected leader and team member behaviors and conduct will be derived for the new performance appraisal system.
SSCs’ Talent Management team worked closely with TMO to spearhead the employment of the Space Force’s AcqDemo Civilian Hiring Pilot, a talent operations platform designed as a one-stop shop for all human resources. The pilot program provides hiring authorities with more flexibility in finding talent over a larger scope of the space industry via LinkedIn, Indeed, and other industry-based platforms.
“In effect, SSC was at the front in some degree, in the improvements in how we’ve been able to do hiring that is now being recognized across the Space Force,” said Chad Millette, chief learning officer for SSC.
Consequently, SSC also set the precedent in digitization and standardization to speed up the onboarding process.
Romer explained, “One of the programs used here at SSC is called “Trello”. It’s not enterprise wide. It’s more centralized and kept to the unit here, but we’re going to make this something that is consistent across all the units within the Space Force.”
Like in many missions, success favors the prepared by having the right people for the mission, a direct reflection of the nation’s recognition for specialized space defense capabilities unique to the Space Force.
“We don’t have the abundance of people where we can allow volume to take over the work,” Jobe stated. “When we are only 16,000 strong, that’s harder to do. If we lose somebody that’s important, we just didn’t lose the human, we lost the competencies as well.”
Compared to her larger sister services, sustaining the Space Force’s human capital is critical and its importance is further magnified. During the town hall, they explained that the U.S. Air Force, with about 330,000 active duty Airmen and approximately 200,000 civilians, have the ability to fill positions when needed to sustain operations.
“Everything that we do is designed to ensure we are thinking about the competencies,” said Romer. “What we can do to attract individuals who want to be a part of this great working environment, be a great teammate, and be connected to the mission.”
For some SSC Guardians, accelerating these changes can drive and push new standards while decoupling from adapted and familiar concepts from the Air Force to ensure the Space Force keeps a competitive edge. It is tailored to a small, unique force that is built to provide space-based capabilities to the future joint warfighters.
“Are we going to see updates to the performance appraisals?” asked Col. Heather B. Bogstie with Space Sensing Program during the first session of the town hall meeting. “In my opinion, they can’t happen soon enough. Are we looking at accelerating this at any point?”
The question was echoed by Lt. Col. Rupinder Sekhon with Military Communication & Positioning, Navigation and Timing Program during the second session. “Having our team understand where they are at and where they can improve is a good feedback mechanism. Having constant feedback is good because you can make quicker adjustments.”
The new approach to performance appraisals, expected by the end of fiscal year 2023, will constitute ongoing assessments of individual performance, focus on the team’s mission, collect data from multiple sources, and use expert developed measures.
“Multi-sourcing data collection will continue to grow, lower admin burden, and become more team focused,” said Romer. “We asked Guardians what things they value from a team-centric focus as well as for mission accomplishment, what that system needs to look like, and what values resonate with Guardians when assessing performance from a team concept.”
Another important aspect of the Guardian Ideal that was mentioned by Romer is to embrace the Space Force culture that is based on team strength and mission focus.
“The Guardian Commitment is the foundation for building our culture and implementing the Guardian Ideal,” he explained. “The four values; commitment, courage, character, and connection are central to all talent management programs and processes.”
Millette emphasized a key takeaway to remember – TMO will continue working with Guardians in every step to achieve the Guardian Ideal.
“The Space Force Talent Management Office has been and continues to use the Guardian Ideal as a means of developing and implementing state of the art processes and procedures for recruiting, placing, and developing Guardians,” said Millette. “The SSC Talent Management office is working with the TMO to ensure that the SSC workforce is well taken care of.”
The TMO presenters discussed the following objectives and path forward:
- Transfer over 1,000 other Service Inter-service Transfers by end of FY22
- Implement AcqDemo Direct Hire Authority by 1 Sep 22
- Implement Workforce Design concept by end of CY22
- Operationalize the Guardian Commitment in HR processes and culture by end of FY22
- Complete development of Foundational and Occupational competencies by end of FY22
- Map competencies by position by end of CY22; Assess Guardians by end of CY23
- Transition from legacy USAF evaluations to Performance Appraisals by FY23
- Develop a framework for promotion readiness by end of CY22; implement FY24
For more information about the Guardian Ideal, please connect with your local command talent management office.