San Joaquin dispels hiring myths with Culture Roadshow

By Annette Silva DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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As DLA employees participate in the 2016 DLA Culture Survey, DLA Distribution San Joaquin leadership continues to emphasize the importance of employees letting their voices be heard.

During the 2014 Culture Survey, DLA Distribution San Joaquin employees provided honest responses which resulted in leadership making positive changes.  One major concern identified in the last culture survey and across eight focus groups, was the distribution center’s hiring process.  To address this concern, the Culture Roadshow was developed and implemented in August 2015.

The Culture Roadshow focuses on providing employees feedback from hiring panel members in regards to anonymous resumes that are not forwarded for consideration. Some examples provided are resumes copied from others, resumes that are not relevant to the position, grammatical errors and sloppy format. Additionally, the panel provides tips for success regarding resume content, advice against avoiding or exaggerating experience and discussing the Behavior Based Interviewing and the STAR method to achieve a positive interview. 

Robert Reyes, San Joaquin’s culture action officer, was tasked with analyzing the misconceptions about the hiring process and what was involved in the hiring process. He found that decades of “floor talk” had turned a very good hiring process into one that was perceived as using favoritism and nepotism as a major consideration for getting a promotion.

Further, he discovered that while the standard operating procedures in place for hiring were effective and extensive training on hiring procedures was provided to supervisors, managers and hiring panel members, the same level of education was not being provided to employees.

“This is where the rumors start and innuendo grows,” said Reyes. “If employees are left in the dark and given no information on a procedure, some employees might assume a process and spread that as fact.”

According to Reyes, the roadshow has been very well received.  This is partly due to the fact that the distribution team works in unison with the local American Federation of Government Employees 1546 leadership team.  The union has been extremely supportive of the distribution center’s culture improvement activities and members are part of the Culture Working Group.

Having union involvement and participation enhances the acceptance of the roadshow, says Reyes.

“We wanted our employees to be able to ask their union leadership questions so as not to create the image that this was a San Joaquin leadership initiative without their union representation buy-in.”

To ensure a balanced approach on the important culture and selection process, all supervisors attended a training and discussion session facilitated by Matt Gomez, Distribution Group deputy; Mike Ruth, Warehousing Group deputy; and Matthew Wadleigh, Inventory and Support Services Group deputy.  

Wadleigh stated, “It was a valuable session.  We corrected a few minor procedural assumptions, but were impressed with the supervisors’ strong desire to select the best and to have the tools to do so.” 

He added, “One of the most valuable aspects was having AFGE leadership participation at virtually every roadshow session, which ensured another level of ground truth for the workforce.”

Reyes concluded that the greatest satisfaction has been providing a means for employees to talk freely and without fear of retribution on a subject that they are deeply concerned about.  “It is so satisfying to see employees smiling and nodding with understanding at the end of each session; very satisfying indeed.”

To date, 25 sessions have been conducted for nearly 550 employees, reaching all work shifts so that every employee may attend.