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Why Personnel Development Matters

MajGen. Robert Mixon, Partner — Level Five Associates

• 2020 Vision • management strategies • personnel development • promoting to management

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One of the things that's important for every executive to realize is that company performance is tied directly to the capability of the people in the company or the sum total of the people that you have working for you. I recently sat down with my friend, Robert Mixon, from Level Five Associates. Level Five Associates is a company that specializes in internal development, a practice that helps businesses reach a higher level by developing their personnel within the company.

Robert has enjoyed a rich and interesting career, having served in the United States Army for 33 years before retired as a major general in 2007 and going on to work in the manufacturing world as the president of a company, and later as a senior executive at non-profit that provides life and job support to develop many disabled Americans and veterans with traumatic brain injury and PTSD. I personally have a great admiration for the US military, which I've found to be one of the most remarkable organizations on Earth. It's a self-learning, self-perpetuating, constantly improving organization.

"One of the benchmarks of the United States military is the growth of leaders in a very comprehensive way," Robert explains. "We have a structured discipline, leader and personnel development program that generates continuous improvement. We promote the best and brightest, we put them in the right seat on the right bus, as Jim Collins talks about, and we operate from a strategic planning framework where we have outcomes-based development."

"One of the things that we implemented in the 1980s," Robert continues, "was the after-action review to basically see ourselves after each mission." We would conduct reviews where we asked ourselves, "How did we do?", after which we'd put the same question to everybody in the organization. "Then we took all that feedback and we implemented changes based on that feedback so that the next mission that we conducted, we conducted at a higher level because we had learned from the prior one."

That may be something intrinsic to the military, but companies would benefit from performing continual reevaluations to see where they stand with their customers and so on. One of the other important elements is having an internal capability to continually improve your people. A lot of companies have hired people who were trained years ago to do what they do and to this day still do those same kinds of things in the same way. It can be frustrating for the executives if the company isn't moving forward because employees aren't testing new methods or inventing new processes.

I think that the whole leadership structure and inspiring people to do things that need to be done is something that we often aren't really taught on the business side. In the military, there's a leadership structure and performance-based culture that the business sector would benefit from studying.

For more information about MajGen. Robert Mixon, visit: www.levelfiveassociates.com