NORFOLK -- After 20 years, the U.S. Navy had taught Pam Reid-Szalanski a certain way to manage people.
“In the military, as a manager, you direct your people to do something and it’s understood that it’s an order – it must be done,” she said. “Time for questions is later.”
After retiring, she came to Norfolk District where she now works as a program support assistant – and learned that managing civilians requires different tactics compared to managing sailors.
Reid-Szalanski is one of four who recently graduated from the Norfolk District’s Leadership Development Program – a curriculum she credits with perfecting the art of civilian management.
“It taught me so many things, but I valued the lessons on how to approach different types of people and different situations,” she said. “It was enlightening.”
The LDP, which is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers course that districts administer, puts Corps employees on a leadership track through a curriculum like that of a college course. Participants meet one hour a month, write book reviews, accomplish online learning modules and hear from guest speakers. It’s part of the USACE goal to invest in and grow future leaders and have the right people with the right skills.
Regulatory’s Chelsea Bowman and engineering’s Samuel George said they were able to apply lessons from the curriculum immediately to work situations.
“How I deal with things changed, how I talked to people changed,” George said. “So much of what we were learning was so basic, but those little things add up to make a big difference.”
Bowman said the difference was in bringing value to the organization.
“I learned an incredible amount about time management and conflict resolution,” Bowman said. “I was able to carry those lessons over to my life outside the district – those lessons have proven invaluable.”
The Norfolk District’s LDP was inactive for 10 years because it had no specific proponent, said Sabrina Tippins, the district’s workforce coordinator. Tippins said she wanted to revive the program and spent a year tailoring the LDP for Norfolk District, such as using books the district commander recommends as reading assignments.
The LDP courses offered at Norfolk District – Level 1 and Level 2 - take at least a year to complete.
“It was worth it – I loved it,” said realty specialist Fayette Alston. “It taught me about my strengths and how to overcome my weaknesses. I’m excited about the next step, Level 2.”
The Level 2 course is already in progress at the district, but a new Level 1 program will begin soon, said Tippins. Level 3 is a regional-level course, and Level 4 and 5 are national-level courses.