By Jennifer BacchusNovember 16, 2017
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Depot Commander Col. Joel Warhurst greeted installation employees the morning of Nov. 8 for his first town hall meeting.
Topics during the session included the workforce's strengths and weaknesses, military readiness, the Group Award Program payout for fiscal year 2017, the recent command inspection, the upcoming holidays, the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program and safety issues.
Warhurst discussed his 90-day assessment of the depot and its workforce, saying he was impressed before he came to the installation and remains impressed with the work performed here.
"You should be proud of what you do, day in and day out, in support of Department of Defense readiness," he told the depot employees. "There is no doubt, here at Anniston Army Depot, we want to be the best."
Warhurst said the workforce works very well together to overcome production problems. Part of that is due to the high skill level of the depot employees.
The commander laid out improvements he wants to see.
Chief among them is getting the quality of each product right the first time.
"At the end of the day, it's about delivering a product that will not fail," said Warhurst. "People's lives depend on our products, so quality is important."
The commander also stressed how vital it is to deliver those quality products on time.
Warhurst stressed the importance of staying on schedule, a concept referred to as Performance to Promise, or P2P.
"When we sign up to a schedule, we are making a contract," he said.
He asked employees to remain task-oriented when at work and avoid distractions.
When P2P and quality goals are met, the end result ensures the readiness of the U.S. military and its allies.
"The expectations are that you are going to deliver to the Department of Defense, specifically the Army, products that improve readiness," said Warhurst.
He told the workforce he has set a goal of 100 percent Performance to Promise.
"The goal is that when we say we are going to deliver on a certain day...we are delivering it by that date," said Warhurst.
GROUP AWARD PROGRAM
The installation performed well toward the goals set for Performance to Promise, productive yield and Net Operating Result during fiscal year 2017.
As a result, eligible employees will receive a payout of $1,125.
Warhurst said he wants the workforce to improve over the FY17 performance in FY18.
"Whatever we set as the goals for FY18, I want to pay out the maximum," he said. "We need to work together, as a team, to achieve these goals."
While the final metrics for FY18 are not set yet, Warhurst said the areas being considered are Net Operating Result, productive yield, P2P and Lean.
The depot's command inspection was held Oct. 16-19.
The main purpose for the evaluation process is to give the new depot commander an overview of the installation's status and its potential areas of improvement.
Of the 59 areas assessed, 36 were found to be commendable, 13 were satisfactory and three were noted as needing improvement.
Warhurst focused on one of those areas during the town hall - continuous improvement, also known as Lean.
"Are we being the most efficient we can be? Are we being the most effective we can be? Are we producing quality products?" Warhurst asked the workforce. "That equals impact to readiness."
He encouraged employees to consistently look for ways to improve processes and procedures and never rest on the laurels of the past.
"We've done some great things. There are a lot of trophies in that trophy case at Anniston Army Depot," said Warhurst. "But, I'm going to challenge you through this next year, with Lean and continuous improvement, what's the next trophy?"
There will be no mandatory shutdown period due to production requirements.
Three maintenance periods are designated during Thanksgiving, Nov. 24-26; and Christmas, Dec. 22-24 and Dec. 30-31.
"We have a production schedule to meet," said Warhurst. "So, if we are here and we are working, I need you to stay on schedule."
Warhurst reiterated the depot's zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and assault to employees.
"Everyone expects to come to work and have a harassment-free, assault-free work place," he said.
Warhurst challenged employees to communicate with their leaders anytime they feel sexually harassed or assaulted.
"It impacts the mission if we allow those behaviors to happen on the depot," he said. "This is something we all can stop, but it starts with the individual."
The commander's safety goal is for every employee to come to work fully mission-capable and leave fully mission-capable.
Warhurst told employees safe work operations often lie in their own hands.
During fiscal year 2017, 53 percent of injuries were because procedures were not followed.
He encouraged employees to continue making safety suggestions for better tools or ways to improve processes as well as to use the tools and procedures already in place.
"We have safety tools we know we are supposed to use and we don't use them," he said. "Each of us, as individuals, have to buy into safety. Every individual owns a portion of their safety."
Individuals also own a portion of the safety of those they work with. Walking by an unsafe practice means contributing to a potential accident, according to the commander.
The commander also addressed several concerns from the workforce during the town hall session.
The first addressed hiring practices and the low number of minorities in supervisory positions.
Warhurst said this is an issue the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command has looked at in-depth and ANAD's hiring processes follow all guidance from the Office of Personnel Management.
"I want to be clear on that - our hiring practices have no nefarious activities," he said.
Warhurst encouraged employees to continue to learn, improving themselves and making themselves better candidates. He also asked the workforce to report any incidents where leadership opportunities, such as temporary promotions, are not equitably spread throughout an organization.
The next several questions concerned issues in the Directorate of Public Works in communication, the submission of vacancy announcements and a safety office in DPW.
Mike Mathews, the director of Public Works addressed the questions, stating an investigation would be performed to locate the breakdown in communication between his office and employees.
Regarding the filling of vacancies, Mathews stated many of the positions which were being prioritized are jobs which often take more than a year to fill, due to the specific requirements.
Mathews stated the new office in DPW will be a compliance office which would assist the depot's Safety Office throughout the installation, enabling the safety program to be fully integrated into DPW's activities.
A question arose from the audience regarding on-the-spot awards. The program still exists and supervisors have been informed to leverage that opportunity to allow the leadership to recognize employees.
The last question of the morning was also about hiring - specifically why it takes so long to fill a vacancy.
Warhurst said the goal is to post the announcement and hire someone to fill the job within 80 days. Right now, it often takes much longer.
He asked for supervisors to assist the process by planning ahead and submit vacancy announcements ahead of retirements whenever possible.