A Look at DLA's People and Culture Plan

By Kathleen T. Rhem, DLA Human Resources

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Defense Logistics Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams believes the foundation for his agency’s success is simple: the more than 25,000 people who make up its workforce. His guiding leadership principle — If you take care of your people, the mission will happen — is at the heart of DLA’s new People and Culture Plan.

Williams directed the development of a human capital plan, known in DLA as the People and Culture Plan, as a companion document to the agency’s new nine-year Strategic Plan, which was released in November. 

“Full commitment to our People and Culture Plan will assure we provide the right resources and environment to a highly skilled workforce fully capable of mission success as we provide global, agile, and innovative support to the Warfighter and our Nation,” he wrote in a forward to the plan. 

“People and Culture” was one of five lines of effort in DLA’s most recent previous strategic plan, and the new P&CP carries forward many of the objectives set forth in the earlier version. 

Williams said he and DLA’s other senior leaders chose to develop a separate People and Culture Plan because he sees People and Culture as much more inclusive than any other line of effort in the broader plan. 

“In my estimation, it’s not a line of effort, it’s at the heart of what we do. It touches everything we do,” he said. “Lines of effort don’t necessarily intersect with each other; People and Culture intersects with everything we do.”

The new plan specifies DLA has adopted the Defense Department’s core values of: Leadership, professionalism and technical knowledge through dedication to duty, integrity, ethics, honor, courage and loyalty. 

It also dedicates two pages to explaining how human capital challenges — demographics, the economy and evolving technology — could affect DLA and its work environment. The organization’s success is “largely dependent on its ability to achieve a high-performing, results-driven culture and to sustain that culture in light of changes to demographics, economics and technology,” the plan states. DLA must also be a good steward of resources and effectively manage risks. 

Over several pages, the plan lays out DLA’s People and Culture goals in eight objectives. They are:

Develop Leaders: 

Leverage and expand leadership programs that attract, develop and retain diverse talent to meet current and future mission requirements. 

Resource the Enterprise: 

Recruit and retain a diverse, talented and skilled workforce. 

Manage the Talent: 

Develop, promote and sustain initiatives to strengthen workforce competencies to meet emerging mission requirements. 

Sustain Our People: 

Provide the environment, tools and resources for employees to be protected, resilient, and mission-focused in the face of professional and personal challenges. 

Fortify the Culture: 

Foster an organizational culture where employees are engaged and motivated to achieve mission excellence. 

Perform and Reward: 

Sustain a results-oriented performance culture that links individual performance and recognition to organizational goals and performance-based actions. 

Build Connections: 

Create an environment where employees share a common perspective allowing them to work effectively across organizational boundaries, eliminate silos, and promote actions that are in the best interest of DLA as a whole. 

Protect the Workforce: 

Leverage and enhance the DLA Safety and Occupational Health program to build a culture focused on reducing the risk of injury or illness in the workforce and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. 


Each of these objectives is further detailed in two or three sub-objectives that shape specific initiatives, investments and human resources priorities in DLA for the next several years. DLA Human Resources Director Brad Bunn explained the P&CP creates an umbrella for initiatives at the enterprise level and the organizational level in the agency’s major subordinate commands and staff sections. 

“We’re asking commanders and directors to use this as a framework in developing their annual operating plans,” Bunn said. “As large as DLA is, these objectives aren’t going to look the same for every team in every location. We will see the plan’s objectives cascaded into the AOPs for the organizations, and elements of those AOPs will connect back to the plan.” 


Roles and Responsibilities

The DLA People and Culture Plan details expectations for leaders at every level, certain policy experts, the DLA workforce and labor partners. It highlights ways the entire DLA team should be working to “promote a diverse and inclusive workplace where all employees can thrive.”

Specific roles and responsibilities for senior leaders — such as the DLA director, major subordinate command leaders and directors of staff organizations — include setting strategic priorities, considering diversity and inclusion as a mission-critical imperative and reviewing progress in meeting plan goals. 

Managers and supervisors are expected to monitor progress and hold people accountable for results. They also must ensure subordinates clearly understand how they and their duties align with the DLA Strategic Plan. 

The DLA Human Resources and DLA Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity teams also have important roles and responsibilities in meeting P&CP goals by providing expertise, oversight and training in their respective areas. 

The plan encourages employees to participate in surveys, work with supervisors to identify areas for growth and maintain a high level of performance. And it calls on labor unions to represent bargaining unit employees’ interests and collaborate with management to improve productivity, cost savings and employees’ quality of life. 

“The key to mission success is to continue our focus on people and culture and ensure our greatest resource, people, are engaged and motivated,” the plan states. 

— Kathleen T. Rhem DLA Human Resources