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By Thomas Perry
DCMA Public Affairs
In response to employee viewpoints and direct feedback within a Defense Organizational Climate Survey and a Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, Defense Contract Management Agency held an initial DEOCS working group in December 2019.
It identified four key areas to improve organizationally: senior leadership, organizational processes, inclusion and discrimination. With a directive to develop an aggressive plan to address shortcomings, the group formed teams and began to work.
After Army Lt. Gen. David Bassett assumed command of DCMA, the focus was redefined to six lines of effort: leadership, anti-discrimination, workplace wellness, inclusion, organizational processes and communication.
Champions and co-champions were chosen to lead the new groups. They selected volunteers throughout the agency to assist in the development and implementation of initiatives. During a Corrective Action Plan Workshop with senior leadership, the champions and their teams gathered to set milestones for short-, mid- and long-term goals.
As a key advisor to the six LOEs and their team members, Linda Galimore said she has seen great progress over the last 12 months.
“I’m ecstatic about the Champions’ progress thus far,” said Galimore, DCMA’s Equal Employment Opportunity director. “They have made great strides this year. You can tell these groups care about making a difference and driving professional change. Many have already completed projects that are ready to deploy to the workforce. I envision a solid path forward with the support of the many volunteers to be inclusive of thoughts from the workforce. I believe the results will have a positive impact. The workforce will know that we are listening to their concerns as we engage them to assist in finding viable solutions.”
In early April, the six teams participated in the Fiscal Year 2022 DEOCS/FEVS Update where they provided status updates on their corrective action plans. The below information reflects those updates.
Champion: Matthew Lupone, Technical Directorate executive director
Co-Champion: Army Col. Paul Mazure, Central Region commander
“The leadership line of effort has over 59-plus volunteers from across all levels of the agency working hard to develop and implement initiatives that develop leadership that matters,” said Lupone.
The team focused on three main areas of emphasis. The first is “creating greater accountability both in taking appropriate actions when it comes to poor performers and properly recognizing employees.”
The other two focus areas are “improving leadership development for existing leaders” and “enhancing leadership communications.”
In the April update, Mazure highlighted completed and ongoing efforts:
• The team focused on training and empowering leaders, particularly existing leaders.
• Using volunteers for development sessions.
• Identified leadership gaps and needed change.
• Provide updated plan of action and milestones to the project manager.
• The team will verify in-place Leadership Development Training.
• Determine where leadership can collaborate with the other lines of effort.
Champion: Dr. Cherry Wilcoxon, Financial and Business Operations executive director
Co-Champion: Navy Capt. Fred Dini, Eastern Region commander
“The Anti-Discrimination IPT is composed of 12 volunteers from diverse demographics and experiences,” said Wilcoxon. “The volume of data the agency received from the FEVS and DEOCS surveys related to discrimination was substantial. As a result, the IPT decided to concentrate its efforts on the five areas identified by the workforce that need to be addressed by the agency.
• Physical Hostile Actions: If any, identify specific actions related to physical hostility reported in the DEOCS comments and focus on solutions to adjudicate.
• Crucial Conversations: Encourage candid and cascading discussions in collaboration with the CARES Council, with the understanding that discussions may be uncomfortable but are necessary to create healthy dialogue to address and mitigate discrimination in the workplace.
• Unconscious Bias: Incorporate unconscious bias awareness into existing agency forums to expose the workforce to unintended implicit preferences.
• Emotional Intelligence: Introduce emotional intelligence concepts such as social awareness, relationship management, and personal and social competence into agency training events, to help address elements of work life, such as gossip and withholding of information, perceived by employees as hostile in nature.
• Mentorship: Encourage expanded and diverse participation in agency mentorship program.
“Discrimination is a systemic problem in society at large, and DCMA is a microcosm of that society, so it was not surprising to have survey comments relative to discrimination,” said Wilcoxon. “But discrimination in any form will not be tolerated in the DCMA workplace and must be eradicated immediately. Conversely, the team encountered comments regarding reverse racism. Therefore, the IPT made a measured, conscious decision to not negate the comments of any survey participants but rather to create an opportunity to gain a greater understanding and tolerance for divergent views and opinions.”
According to the Anti-Discrimination LOE update, to advance the agency’s efforts to create both a more conscious and discrimination-free workplace and workforce, the IPT is striving to undertake the following initiatives:
• Participate collaboratively with the CARES Council, EEO and Total Force in the development of discrimination avoidance strategies.
• Assist in the development of factors which could be used to differentiate between discrimination facts and myths, and reality and perceptions within the agency culture.
• Identify existing training sources the agency could leverage at no additional cost to educate the workforce.
• Analyze and consider other indirect factors that could potentially adversely impact workforce training such as time investment, decisions regarding whether training should be mandatory or optional, and opportunities to integrate information into existing manuals and training platforms.
• Focus on demographic and survey data collection and analysis to determine the most effective agency programs, anti-discrimination training and resources, and the marketing of dissemination of information to the workforce.
• Develop and create a resource library available to the entire DCMA workforce to include topics and sources of information such as unconscious bias, emotional intelligence for workplace success, new IQ, small world solutions, business research articles, podcasts, and training videos.
Champion: Walter Eady, Portfolio Management and Business Integration executive director
Co-Champions: Navy Capt. Jeffrey Carty, Aircraft Integration Maintenance Operations commander, and Navy Capt. Andrew Gephart, Aircraft Operations commander
“We have spent the last 25 months working in a virtual environment with unprecedented level of productivity and collaboration,” said Eady. “The rapid transition from in-person to virtual took some time for all of us to adjust to our new environment. The Workplace Wellness initiative is seeking ways to optimize our virtual space and take our virtual environment to the next level.”
During their update brief, the Workplace Wellness team identified key ongoing initiatives:
• Researching information on virtual workplace across the country and companies that are shifting from a five-day work week to a four, three, or two day work week.
• Developing a process to accommodate the entire workforce, to include employees who are working virtually and employees who will continue to work in the office due to the nature of their duties.
• Reviewing start-up companies’ techniques via TED Talks.
• Requesting assistance from the EEO office to review videos prior to workforce distribution.
“Our leaders and workforce require the virtual tools and training to ensure our workforce thrives in the virtual environment,” said Eady. “We have recognized that working in a virtual environment may lead all of us to struggle to balance work-life and our personal lives. We are committed to ensuring that we have policies and strategies that reduces stress and developing strategic actions that generate a healthier workforce.”
Those strategic actions include:
• Providing resources to generate a healthier workforce.
• Developing communication channels with available resources for employees to balance work and personal lives (work-life integration).
• Outlining a system of checks and balances to reduce stress and generate an employee wellness program through the Employee Assistance Program.
Champion: Sonya Ebright, acting deputy director
Co-Champions: Air Force Col. Lance French, Western Region commander, and Sonia Williams, director of Policy Guidance and Talent Management
“The Inclusion initiatives are addressing four specific areas where the workforce has expressed a need for interventions that improve: equal access to information and opportunities; connectedness in a virtual environment; greater transparency regarding inclusion activities; and, providing employees a voice as well as ensuring they feel heard, particularly in the decision-making processes that influence workplace satisfaction from an inclusivity standpoint,” said Ebright.
For each of these initiatives, sub-teams established corrective action plans and milestones with targets of opportunity where the agency can implement strategic actions:
• Equal Access: Champions and co-champions have identified activities they will achieve over the next six months that help shape the vision of ‘inclusivity from the start’ by promoting equal opportunity broadening efforts and inclusion pipelines by leveraging existing avenues like Town Halls and Diversity and Inclusion programs to expand equal access education, while also pursuing additional resources such as Inclusive Quotient (IQ) training that fosters fair, open, cooperative, supportive, and empowering work environments.
• Connectedness: The team completed several initiatives designed to build camaraderie and establish professional relationships around common goals in an “Inclusive” work environment. The team recommends implementing strategic actions to address developing and delivering Emotional Intelligence/Soft Skills training for supervisors, and establish and promote DCMA clubs and outside activities that are not work related.
• Transparency: The first step was to clearly define “inclusion” as well as identify what specifically constitutes inclusive activities. The team will assess the top five organizations that scored highest for “Inclusion” in the DEOCS survey. Over the next several months, the group will query these top five organizations to identify best practices and develop tools that can be used across the Agency. In addition, the team is working with Public Affairs to publish various articles on “Inclusion” as a means of providing greater awareness of inclusion offerings that the workforce can engage.
• Employee feedback: Lastly, to address employee perceptions of group decision-making, a sub-team analyzed the DEOCS results to identified relevant questions within survey that correlate to this focus area. The team sub-divided the corrective action plan into three working groups tasked with researching and identifying policy proposals or initiatives.
Champion: Michael Shields, Quality Assurance executive director
Co-Champions: Cory Rosenberger, chief of staff, and Karen Schultheis, acting Information Technology executive director and chief information officer
“In the DEOCS survey, agency employees voiced their concerns that it can appear discipline isn’t always executed,” said Shields. “They don’t see poor performers or bad conduct being disciplined, and they don’t know what actions were taken, or if they were taken. As you can imagine, this is a delicate topic. We celebrate accomplishments in public and deal with discipline in private.”
Survey feedback indicated some team members believed organizational discipline is unfairly administered, and that at times, staff and leaders were not held accountable with little recourse for impacted staff who lacked avenues to address concerns.
“Discipline and performance improvement are conducted primarily between the supervisor and the employee, with input from Labor Employee Relations, General Council, and other advisors as required. However, the agency does track conduct and performance actions metrics, and as a result of the DEOCS feedback, conduct and performance actions are now listed as an item under “What’s Hot” on the Total Force Directorate homepage.” (login required)
The slideshow, set to publish quarterly, provides conduct and performance action metrics across the agency.
Schultheis said the LOE is focused on ensuring employees trust that appropriate action is taken when there is performance or conduct issues, and where that system-confidence is lacking, to build trust that discipline is fairly administered through data collection, analysis and reporting to the workforce
Champion: Jorge Bennett, Cost and Pricing Center executive director
Co-Champions: Navy Capt. Nicholas Russo, DCMA International commander; James Norris, Special Programs Command director, and Mary Sheridan, Cost and Pricing Center deputy director
This line of effort is identifying potential gaps in how information is disseminated or tailored to make it relevant to different levels or groups. The goal is open, transparent and consistent information flow across the organization.
“As we all know, communications in any organization, but especially in an agency as large and geographically dispersed as DCMA, are one of the biggest challenges we face,” said Russo. “The Communications Integrated Product Team has been busy over the past few months poring over the Defense Employee Organizational Climate Survey and Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys trying to identify not only our weaknesses but our strengths and where we can leverage those strengths and share them across the agency.”
Four strategic actions have been identified to drive improvement:
• Review existing communication methods and codify and implement methods of distributing strategic and operational information up, down, and across DCMA at all levels.
• Review and codify processes used to gather, analyze and respond to employee feedback to improve command climate.
• Identify, understand, analyze and reform barriers to preventing inclusion of all employees in information flow.
• Re-educate employees on where to find different types of disseminated communication and how to navigate DCMA 365.
According to the Communication LOE, the team has been reviewing existing communication methods, looking for areas to codify and implement methods of distributing strategic and operational information to DCMA employees at all levels. They also are reviewing and looking for opportunities to standardize the processes DCMA uses to gather, analyze, and respond to employee feedback to improve command climate.
“The communications team is striving to identify, understand and analyze, and reform barriers to preventing inclusion of all employees in information flow, which is especially challenging with the tremendous diversity we enjoy across our workforce,” said Russo. “And finally, recognizing that there are numerous tools already in existence, we would like to re-advertise these tools, possibly streamline their access and promote their efficient use.”
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