Subsistence leaders gather employee feedback during brown bag lunches

By Alex Siemiatkowski DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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Senior leaders with the Subsistence supply chain gathered feedback from nearly 90 percent of their employees over six months to better understand the culture.

Deputy Director Rich Faso, Director of Supplier Operations Gina Vasquez and Director of Customer Operations John Sheehan hosted more than 30 brown bag lunches, held weekly, with employees from the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support supply chain.

“It was an opportunity to lay the foundation with our workforce, managers and supervisors, and that every encounter that we have with each other should be based on dignity and respect,” Faso said, “as well as to try and build trust that people’s thoughts and concerns wouldn’t be held against them.”

The brown bag sessions were designed to help address areas of concern raised in the 2016 DLA Culture Survey.

“We saw some interesting comments from the Denison survey and thought ‘let’s get the feel of the workforce,’” Faso said. Subsistence leadership wanted to understand, “Was this the thought of many? Or a comment of a few? … to try and ascertain the culture of the commodity.”

Stephen Granato, a 10-year Subsistence employee and acquisition specialist, attended a brown bag lunch in early December.

 “The atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming, which allowed for people to speak freely about workplace issues,” Granato said.

Chris Ludwig, Subsistence tailored vendor logistics specialist and Culture Improvement Team lead, said the brown bag discussions correlated with CIT focus areas. Those focus areas are communication between the supplier and customer directorates, accountability and job specific training.

Ludwig said the CIT is creating a repository system for standard operating procedures, job aids and other documents.

“Our intent is to make it so people can dig into the repository and find what they need,” he said. “Another discussion is to work on a program that encourages employees and managers to highlight one another’s actions, similar to a point system or reward system.”

Integrating new employees was another topic discussed during the brown bag lunches. To show new employees who works on what team, photos of Subsistence managers and supervisors will be displayed in their command area, and their organization chart will be made available online.

Faso and Vasquez shared brown bag lunch comments with managers and supervisors in a two-hour session March 6. Afterwards, those managers and supervisors provided their feedback during their own brown bag lunches with Subsistence leadership.

“The tendency is to just focus on the things that need to change, but there were a lot of comments made about the comradery of the workforce,” Faso said. “It is a close-knit community and people are very generous, friendly and appreciative of their jobs here.”

Subsistence leadership plans to continue to host brown bag lunches throughout the year to maintain the pulse of the workforce.

“We didn’t hit everybody,” Faso said. “We respected those individuals who just maybe didn’t feel comfortable enough to come. I think it shows that we have some work to do as a commodity and that there is still 10 percent of the people that we didn’t get (at the lunches) for some reason.”

Faso said the brown bag sessions went well and he hopes that eventually all Subsistence employees will feel comfortable enough to speak their mind.

“If we ever got to 100 percent (attendance) then I think that we can say we made a step towards making this a better place to work and that people feel confident here,” Faso said.