News | Jan. 22, 2020

Disposition director calls for balanced effort in 2020

By Jake Joy DLA Disposition Services Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services Director Michael Cannon gave his first all-hands workforce address of 2020 during a Director’s Call event in Battle Creek, Michigan, Jan. 21.

He spent time addressing productivity and success metrics, what they mean and why balancing the various parts of the work – and work itself – is vital to mission effectiveness.

“If you balance all your metrics, then things flow through the system, our customers get what they want more quickly,” Cannon said. “Does that mean you put the same amount of weight on each [metric]? No. Some days you have to focus on some more than others. But you want to ensure that the balance is equal. I'm looking more for, across the agency, putting the right amount of effort on the right things at the right time. And I want you to look at yourselves and put the right amount of energy and effort on the right things at the right time.”

Cannon said the fourth organizational culture survey of his tenure would arrive in March, and as always, he strongly encouraged employees to take the time to participate and make their thoughts heard.

“You all have the same ability to influence this organization through the culture survey, whether you're the newest employee, whether you're a GS-5, wage grade, or the chief of staff or on my key staff, you have in this survey just as much influence as everybody else,” he said. “Make your vote count.”

He also recommended that interested employees apply for enterprise rotation opportunities and the agency’s executive development program training seats. He said disposition employees had been very competitive, with two thirds of the rotation applicants accepted and 80% of those who put in a package for an executive development course seat had received one.

“I encourage you, if you're looking for some form of professional development, to apply,” Cannon said. “Good news is, I get to endorse your package. I get to grade your package. And if there's any discussion, I'm in the middle of the team that gets to discuss that and help pick who gets to go. And we do it quite fairly.”

Cannon briefed his recent travel schedule and previewed some – but not all – of his upcoming trips, providing a rationale for why he likes conducting no-notice site visits throughout the DLA Disposition Services network.

“I would rather [sites] focus on the customers than me,” he said. “I don't go to site visits every time just to get a dog and pony show. Now, I do that once in a while. Why? Because you deserve an opportunity to show off for the boss. But at the same time, if all you're doing is showing off for me, I don't see what's really going on. I don't see the real struggles and challenges that you're having. So I don't have a good appreciation for what is hitting you every day. When I go on a no-notice site visit, it's easy, you don't do any prep, I just show up. You freak out for a while. That's okay. Calm down. But I get an opportunity to get an appreciation for the day-to-day challenges. I walk out and talk to customers, walk in the warehouse, I don't drive the forklifts, but I do a lot of the other stuff just to get an appreciation for what a day in the life is like there.”

Cannon noted now-retired employees who had received awards and special recognition during the previous quarter. Those included Michelle Wooden, Sherry Low and Lottie Skipper. He also said the command should be caught up on providing time in service awards to the workforce.

Recently approved Employee Suggestion Program recommendations included supervisor training checklists, material handling equipment safety recognition, and the property reuse photo application.

He said five suggestions are currently under review and a small panel will now review suggestions to ensure that awards are fair and equitable.

“Please keep them coming, because most of the good ideas that have come out of this headquarters didn't originate with anyone on the 5th Floor – at least not my end of the floor – they originated in the workforce,” Cannon said. “I get a lot of great ideas thrown at me from the field when I do my site visits. If you follow that up with a suggestion, you get credit for that great idea.”