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News | Sept. 27, 2016

DLA Distribution Norfolk graduates supervisors from Foundations of High Performing Leadership

By DLA Distribution Organizational Management DLA Distribution Public Affairs

DLA Distribution Norfolk, Virginia, recently celebrated the graduation of 65 supervisors from Foundations of High Performing Leadership training. The supervisors represented all Distribution business units as well as Norfolk’s diverse geography, and included multi-tiered leadership from Norfolk, Portsmouth, Little Creek and Cheatham, Virginia; New London, Connecticut; and Crane, Indiana.

“DLA Distribution must grow problem solvers throughout our network,” said DLA Distribution Deputy Commander Twila Gonzales. “We must deliver more value at less cost and our supervisors are the key to our ability to continuously improve. The training you have just completed will build your skills to continue to improve how Distribution supports our warfighter customers.”

HPL training includes four focus areas: setting the direction, job relations, job instruction and quality control. 

“I feel like this training dramatically improved my supervisory tool box,” said Kerry Foerst, supervisory transportation specialist. “I have a lot more tools now for resolving problems and getting better results. And I have a lot more insight into the expertise of my fellow managers.I believe we will work together even better now and get even better results because I know I have coworkers who will have great advice. I will absolutely get my peers together when I have a tough problem to solve.”

“All Distribution supervisors are problem solvers,” Gonzales said. “We solve problems every day; we don’t even think about it. Now I believe you can look around and see a teammate who has gone with you through this program with you and who also understands the tools provided and you realize you don’t have to solve every problem alone.” HPL is a 40-hour course typically spread across 10 days. 

Stephen Boyd, distribution supervisor, said,  “At first I thought that was a terrible idea. Why not just get it over with? But the short training days really worked. I think all training should be four hours a day giving you the other half of your day to keep up with work.

“We gave that decision a lot of thought,” Gonzales said.  “We want you to have time to digest the material so we intentionally spread it across two weeks. It also allows you to immediately practice what you are learning every day.”

“I paid close attention to the job instruction module,” said Magalene McKelvey, material examiner and identifier supervisor.  “I enjoyed it and I am really excited about my new abilities to take a complex standard operating procedure and break it down into a job breakdown sheet that I can use for training my team. I absolutely have the ability now to train my team better, faster and stay in standard.”

“Supervisors must be able to perform and teach the jobs they supervise,” Gonzales said.  “Leaders are teachers and now you have more tools to train your people and coach them back to standard.”

“Being retired military, I have attended a lot of military leadership training,” said Julie Chandoo, Norfolk distribution facilities specialist. “This training would be very helpful to new Navy leaders. It was a big help to me as I transition to civilian leadership.”

“I think it’s also important to use the management team,” said DLA Distribution Norfolk, Va., deputy commander Denise Cordeiro-Bennett. “I think it was excellent to get the exact same training to the entire leadership team at the same time.  We now share the exact same standards.”

“I can see that Norfolk will be practicing these tools and techniques so they become habits,” Gonzales said. 

“The problem solving was extremely practical,” said George Thomsen, Norfolk maintenance supervisor.  “It was great to get to know the leadership team better. I understand better how my peers do their jobs and I believe it will help us make improvements in the future.”

“This training helped build our leadership team,” said George Brackett, Stevedore supervisor. “We now have a much better understanding of each other – especially from the exercises in class. This understanding will help us solve problems together.”

“Moving forward I commit to keeping us on track,” said Cordeiro-Bennett. “Norfolk has a lot of challenging missions coming to us in the near future. I think these missions will allow us to test the skills we have developed.  I see all of us using our problem solving skills and our people skills.”

Gonzales challenged the group to not only use the new skills but to share them with the rest of the network. “This training is part of the Distribution Leadership System.  Our goal is a high performing culture and culture is about how work gets done. I can see that Norfolk will have a high-performing culture, because you will be getting a lot of work done,” said Gonzales.

“The job instruction training was really beneficial,” said DLA Distribution Norfolk, Va., at Portsmouth deputy director Tony Smith. “This is one of the most empowering classes I have ever taken. I will be using these techniques with my team immediately.”

“It’s clear to me that the Norfolk leadership team sees mistakes, which we all make, as opportunities to learn,” Gonzales said. “You are talking about helping each other along that way and that’s how we all get better. We share what we learn so our whole team learns and grows.”

DLA Distribution Norfolk, Va., commander, Navy Capt. Harry Thetford concluded the training was a success because of the instructors. “Danielle Williams and Heather Watson are high performing instructors.They care about the students and the material, and they made us all better.”