FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
The monthly Defense Logistics Agency Senior Leader Discussion Forum is giving supervisors and managers in Level 4 of the agency’s Enterprise Leader Development Program a venue to address common issues and share information despite a temporary halt in live training and networking sessions due to the coronavirus.
Human Resources Specialist Ron Joseph conceived of the forum after reading thousands of write-in comments from the 2018 DLA Culture/Climate Survey. He hoped to improve communication among leaders on topics like DLA initiatives, increasing employee engagement and workplace productivity.
After participating in the meetings, attendees can take what they’ve learned and test ideas and concepts within their organization.
Chaletta McCoy, staff director for Human Capital Program Development and Joseph’s supervisor, said even before Joseph began working for DLA in May 2016, DLA Human Resources Director Brad Bunn and other agency leaders wanted to increase leader development and communications throughout the agency.
“The Senior Leader Discussion Forum is one piece of a bigger initiative under ‘developing leaders.’ It’s an objective in the People and Culture Plan, which is a critical capability in the DLA Strategic Plan,” McCoy said.
She said the topics are shaped by messages and programs the DLA director and other senior leaders want to highlight, like the agency’s Employee Assistance Program and the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal System.
The ELDP comprises five levels of executive leadership. Employees at Level 1 are not yet team or project leaders, supervisors or managers; Level 2 includes employees who have "lead" or "leader" in their job title; Level 3 encompasses new supervisors who must complete a probationary period; Level 4 includes experienced leaders or managers and those who have completed ELDP Level 3 training; and Level 5 is reserved for employees in the Senior Executive Service.
The forum takes place one Wednesday each month and includes morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate ELDP Level 4 leaders worldwide. Attendees receive one hour of credit toward their ELDP Level 4 20-hour annual developmental requirement.
Joseph said many of the over 2,000 experienced leaders he initially invited to the forum responded by asking why they received the notifications, but now he gets regular requests to add new participants to the distribution list.
“They attend because they want to,” Joseph said, adding that attendance and participant feedback reveals the forum has improved management practices and helped participants become more effective leaders as intended.
The forums in 2020 averaged more than 200 participants every month and covered topics including empathetic leadership, EAP, communications training, and helping employees manage stress during the pandemic.
Joseph said briefers from EAP and DLA’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office have been asked to present information about employee benefits and methods of stress reduction more than once. DPMAP, the ELDP Level 4 Program and recruiting are also topics that are presented on a recurring basis.
“Last year, EEO did a session on reasonable accommodations,” he said. “The briefer explained why it was important to process requests expeditiously, and one program participant shared a personal and emotional experience he had that drove the point home to everyone on the call. This was just one example of the impact of the forum.”
Reference material on topics covered is available at the collaboration site and presentations also augment training available through DLA’s Learning Management System, McCoy added.