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News | Jan. 19, 2021

Culture survey results show positive trends in all categories

By Beth Reece

Employees rated the agency higher than ever in areas like mission goals, organizational learning and team orientation according to initial analysis of results from the 2020 Defense Logistics Agency Culture/Climate Survey.

Normally conducted every 18-24 months, the survey measures employee input in four overarching areas – mission, adaptability, involvement and consistency – with 12 subcategories such as core values, customer focus and empowerment. The average composite score for all areas is 74, the highest DLA has recorded since it began using the Denison Organizational Culture Model 20 years ago.

“I’m delighted to see these survey results showing improvements to DLA’s culture and climate because our people are key to our success,” said DLA Director Vice Adm. Michelle Skubic. “A strong culture leads to an engaged and high-performing workforce, which in turn leads to better support for our warfighters and other valuable customers.”

Scores rose in all 12 subcategories with DLA doing better in six of those subcategories than 79% of other organizations being tracked in the Denison database, said DLA Culture Program Manager Shannon Lewis. In the empowerment subcategory, for example, DLA scored 80.

“That demonstrates the agency’s ability to delegate responsibility and share important information,” she said, adding that overall results prove DLA’s long-term commitment to improving organizational culture. DLA ranked in the bottom third of Denison-tracked organizations when it began conducting the survey. The 2020 results show the agency has moved into the top quarter of organizations.

The five items with the highest scores are:

  • Information is widely shared so that everyone can get the information he or she needs when it’s needed;
  • All members have a deep understanding of what the customer wants and needs;
  • It is easy to reach consensus, even on difficult issues;
  • Work is organized so that each person can see the relationship between his or her job and the goals of the organization; and
  • People understand what needs to be done for us to succeed in the long run.

The results illustrate how employees feel about their collective efforts in responding to the pandemic and adjusting to new work conditions, DLA Human Resources Director Brad Bunn said in a Jan. 13 blog post.

“I believe this reflects a workforce that came together to move mountains when our military partners and our nation needed us most,” he said.

The response rate was 55% compared to 63% for the 2018 survey, for which the average composite score was 66.

Lewis explained DLA organizations will now use the survey results to create Culture Action Plans focused on areas with lower scores. For example, although the biggest improvement from the 2018 survey was in creating change, that subcategory was still among the lowest scores along with customer focus. Employees also indicated they feel that working with someone from another part of the organization is like working with someone from a different organization and problems often arise because they lack necessary skills.

“A lower score in customer focus, DLA’s ability to effectively incorporate customer input into decisions and processes, may prompt us to look a bit more deeply into what may be missing,” Lewis said. “The survey shows us that’s an area to work to improve.”

Although the results are a snapshot of the agency during what Bunn called a tumultuous year, he said they represent areas of potential future growth and provide a roadmap for DLA Culture Program action planning. Senior leaders and culture champions will receive additional results for sub-organizations in the coming weeks, he added.

“One of DLA’s strengths is our penchant for continually looking at how we can do better, and effective and timely action planning is key to sustaining our strong culture,” he continued. “2020 saw our workforce adjust to some rapid and dramatic changes, and how we institutionalize our successes over the past year and identify and deal with areas in which we could have done better will define us into the future.”