Aviation senior leaders discuss survey results with Denison expert, develop action plans

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s new culture champion, Cynthia Stinchcomb, hosted two days of collaboration between DLA Aviation senior leaders and Jay Richards, a founding member and senior consultant with Denison Consulting, Jan. 10 - 11 on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.

Leaders came together to discuss results collectively and individually.

Richards started the discussions by explaining the Denison Model of high performance and reviewing how DLA Aviation had grown from the last survey in 2016.

The survey, which is conducted throughout DLA every 18 months to two years, measures employee input on the model.  The model includes four traits and 12 indices that are graphically represented in a results wheel called a circumplex.  The traits are Mission, Consistency, Involvement and Adaptability.

Richards said in the 15 years since the DLA enterprise began using the Denison survey tool, the organization has grown into a top quartile organization in Denison’s database of more than 1,000 organizations.

On average, from the last survey, DLA Aviation improved by five points with a response rate of 68 percent. The highest improvements were in the traits of Mission and Consistency.  Under Mission, the index of Strategic Direction and Intent gained 7 points to score 80 out of 100 and under Consistency, the index of Core Values improved by 8 points to also score 80 out of 100.

According to survey results, only three indices remain to complete the wheel:  Creating Change, Customer Focus, and Coordination and Integration.

DLA Aviation Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Linda Hurry congratulated leaders on their great progress over the past few years.

Hurry thanked Richards for his help and his fresh set of eyes on how the Aviation team could build upon the results.  She stressed to leaders the importance of cross communication. 

One of DLA Aviation’s lowest scores was in the Consistency Trait, under the Coordination and Integration Index. The question getting the lowest score was - working with someone from another DLA activity is like working with someone from a different agency.

“This particular question looks at cross-collaboration and how organizations work across functional, divisional and/or geographical boundaries,” said Richards. “Although DLA Aviation improved in this area from 2016 to 2018, it still falls low relative to other organizations and will be an area DLA will focus on in their 2018 action plans.”

“Our people and their families are the most important part of our organization and we can always get better. It is everyone’s job to continue to improve,” Hurry said.

Hurry shared the DLA director’s survey focus areas with senior leaders:  Cross-functional Coordination, Capability Development, Senior Leader Engagement, and the Department of Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program, more commonly known as DPMAP.

She reminded senior leaders we have stressed these focus areas before, just under different names. 

“Cross-functional collaboration is similar to our ‘Logistics is a team sport’ concept,” she said. “Our focus on ‘building the bench’ is targeting capability development and our senior leader engagement strategy is similar to ‘getting to know our team members.’ Leaders need to get out of their offices and talk with their employees, get to know them.”

Regarding DPMAP, she said leaders need to tie performance and recognition to organizational goals.

“Employee recognition builds energy and momentum,” she said.  “We’re looking to build a collective Aviation and individual directorate and division action plans.  These will be cross communicated. Let’s learn from each other and cover the bubble (complete the wheel) in the 2020 survey.”