FORT BELVOIR, Virginia –
This is the fifth article in a series of DLA Energy workforce development opportunities.
It was during the commander’s quarterly employee meeting, July 7, when she saw the union representative seated next to the commander that she felt inspired from hearing words like workforce priority, communication and development programs.
When the commander spoke, she became more interested in the programs and wanted to know more. Then, she remembered the commander’s open-door policy and approached him face-to-face with her questions.
“He explained the rotation program,” said Charnika Hayes, former Defense Logistics Agency Energy Command Administration Support specialist. “He asked what I wanted to do and said he would see what he could do about it.”
After the meeting, Hayes received an email from leadership about getting into the rotation program.
Hayes said this was everything she values in leadership … a team that really values people.
Summarizing most of her personal life, Hayes said she’s absolutely fulfilled in her studies and interest areas and never really thought about work as “fulfilling” until now.
“I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” she said.
Building on the DLA director’s goal of enhancing DLA’s people and culture, Hayes joined the DLA Equal Employment Opportunity team Aug. 26 through the DLA Energy six-month rotation program.
Hayes said the entire transition was seamless and validated everything she observed in leadership.
Prior to joining the DLA EEO team, Hayes attended an EEO symposium and met several EEO directors. She also trained with the DLA Energy EEO office during a vacancy.
“As a trainee there is so much to learn and grasp,” Hayes said. “I had a lot of questions that I did not hesitate to ask. DLA EEO leadership encouraged me to continue asking questions and said ‘we’d like her to join our office as part of her rotation; we see something in her’ … which only validated what he (DLA Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod) initiated by extending this opportunity to me in the first place.”
Hayes said the workforce development programs are put in place because leadership cares about people … and that starts with the director of DLA.
At a recent DLA town hall Hayes attended, the Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch made it very clear, in no uncertain terms: warfighter first, people and culture second.
“People and culture are second on the agency’s agenda … prioritized to ensure that in every meeting- every conversation, the topic of people gets the attention it deserves,” Hayes said.
Also proven during an EEO symposium Hayes attended, the DLA chief of staff said in her speech the warfighter is first, people and cultural are the second priority of this organization.
“This is a big deal that an organization prioritizes you (the people) … not just the work you do, but you and the culture and how you feel … that’s an organization I want to work for,” Hayes said.
Employees need to know workforce development programs and efforts are being made on their behalf, Hayes said.
“Walk-the-talk” is a common phrase Hayes said she hears from the DLA EEO Deputy Director Bridget Lanier.
“Hayes is a great fit for the EEO community,” Lanier said. “She’s what I would call a ‘hidden treasure’ that we found through the rotation program. Her maturity, intellect and tenacious spirit give her the edge EEO professionals need to be successful in the people and culture field.”
Looking ahead as an EEO technician, Hayes is learning the governance and procedures for processing reasonable accommodations and overall disability program management within the federal government.
“I’m becoming so aware of the agency’s push to ensure diversity,” Hayes said.
Diversity is not from a color or people perspective, but from a caliber of people perspective – different viewpoints create a buffet of knowledge from the workforce so the agency can thrive, Hayes said.
“It interests me a lot how these programs assist the agency in reaching the goal of diversifying the workplace and making everyone feel valued ... and that’s a big deal,” she added.
“Hayes is a wonderful addition to our team,” said Janice Samuel, DLA EEO staff director and Hayes’ direct supervisor. “Her high energy, enthusiasm for learning and great customer service skills have proven to be a valuable asset to the DLA EEO staff as well as the agency. We would be proud to have her as a permanent part of our staff.”
Hayes said her current postgraduate program in divinity and counseling provide her an upper edge with practical hands-on learning and job-focused training that enhances the skill set she gets in the classroom and in the end provides her a fulfilling career field and an asset to the organization.
“At the core of this rotation program, it’s really about finding a place where people thrive, because if they are thriving, the organization is thriving and that becomes the strength of the organization,” Hayes said.
She said her goal in the rotation program is to allow the impact of this opportunity to propel her even further into her career and desires of helping others.
“I had no idea people came to work to be fulfilled, but now I get it. I am even more fulfilled at work now than ever,” Hayes said.
Hayes is one of three DLA Energy Rotation Program employees.