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Fort A.P. Hill employee wins prestigious award

Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 10:20 am

Dianne Smith WEBBy Daniel Sherrier


A Caroline County native and Fort A.P. Hill employee was honored at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes on June 9.

Dianne Smith, management and program analyst for A.P. Hill’s Plans, Analysis, and Integration office, received the Nick Hoge Award for authoring a paper titled “Building High Performing Teams to Facilitate Leadership Development in Organizations.”

According to the U.S. Army’s website, the Nick Hoge Award “recognizes Army personnel who author and submit papers on matters relating to civilian personnel administration and management that are judged professionally significant and of value to Army.”

The award was presented at the Pentagon as part of an annual ceremony that also honors civilian Army personnel with the William H. Kushnick and John W. Macy Jr. awards.

Smith first joined the staff at U.S. Army Garrison Fort A.P. Hill in 2004 as a budget analyst at the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, following several years working in the banking industry.

The banking jobs kept bringing her to places such as Richmond, Charlottesville, Warrenton, and Washington, D.C., but she preferred something closer to home.

The bank world lured her back away for a little while, but she returned to A.P. Hill and soon ventured across the hall to the Plans, Analysis, and Integration (PAI) office in 2009.

“I got to know the people here and became interested in the type of work that they did,” Smith said.

She described PAI as “the garrison commander’s staff element for strategic and management planning. So how well services are delivered, promoting those transformational improvements in organizations, providing the means to measure them and monitor how well they’re going—it all comes out of this office.”

Smith added, “We’re kind of like the town manager.”

“We measure how well services are provided to Army and civilians and anyone that comes here. … There are certain standards that we need to maintain,” she said. “We make sure that we are performing to standard, because it’s important to everyone who comes here to train that we have everything in place to properly support their training.”

Smith is involved in a range of duties. She facilitates teams set up for a variety of purposes. She participated in a corporate branding project for the installation. Recently, she worked with a civilian leadership and development committee to determine ways of offering workforce development opportunities to A.P. Hill’s employees.

The projects are usually intended “to bring some sort of transformation to the installation—some sort of new thing or a way to be better. That’s kind of what this office does,” she explained.

Her award-winning paper came out of one of her assignments, and her deputy garrison commander told her she should submit an entry for the Nick Hoge Award.

“He thought that I could do it,” Smith said. “I just sat down and worked it out, but it came pretty easily because this is something that this office regularly does.”

The 18-page paper presents “a model for facilitating high-performing teams for leadership development,” she said. “This model is scalable, so if it was strategic planning for the installation or if it was some new initiative at the division level, this would work for any team.”

The model sets two paths: a vision path focused on task and content, and a values path focused on people and process.

Smith outlines four key phases: critical thinking, planning, tactical operation, and monitoring.

“I’ve been involved in strategic planning in the private sector. I’ve been with lots of teams—teams that I’ve led, teams that I’ve seen other people lead.

“I’ve seen really great team leaders that have everything laid out and there’s no question as to the work that needs to be accomplished and timelines and how you measure success and how you go through, and then I’ve had other teams where people kind of just sit around and stare at each other and talk about what needs to be done, but they just never quite move to execute it,” Smith said.

“So it’s based on of course training that I’ve had, teams that I’ve been on—just observations, things that I’ve seen that work, things that don’t work so well,” she added.

At the Hall of Heroes, Smith received her award from Undersecretary of the Army Brad Carson.

“It was spectacular. I was just completely blown away. It was a beautiful ceremony. I was so honored and humbled by the entire experience,” Smith said.

She got meet the other award winners: Kushnick Award winner David A. Helmer, human resources officer, Army G-1, and Macy Award winner Freddie L. Giddens, deputy to the garrison commander, U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud, South Korea.

“I’m very excited. I want to write another paper,” Smith said.

Smith plans on sticking around Fort A.P. Hill.

“I love working here. It’s just a wonderful place to work, and there are so many people here who are just completely dedicated to the mission. I really believe in what I’m doing,” she said.