Communication was the dominant theme as Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander Col. Patrick M. Duggan and Command Sgt. Maj. Carolyn Y. Donaldson led a quarterly town hall at Spates Community Club Jan. 26.

Before a roomful of managers and staffers from various JBM-HH directorates and offices, Duggan shared findings from a pair of surveys completed by employees, and offered a forum for further dialogue about the state of the base as a workplace.

During a slideshow presentation, Duggan noted that JBM-HH is meeting U.S. Army standards in all of the "climate factors" addressed in the surveys, including organizational commitment, trust in leadership, organizational performance, organizational cohesion, leadership cohesion, job satisfaction, organizational processes, diversity management and help-seeking behaviors.

Safety and safety training were also identified as particular organizational strengths, and JBM-HH is also within Army norms in terms of equal opportunity, fair treatment, harassment and discrimination.

However, Duggan acknowledged that the responses to several locally-developed survey questions indicated that communication in the workplace was a significant concern among JBM-HH employees.

"Definitely, we could do a better job at communication," he declared.

Duggan highlighted several data points from one of the surveys:

- 35.8 percent of respondents felt inadequately informed about changes that affect them within the organization.

- 24.7 percent indicated that they did not receive periodic formal feedback from their supervisors.

- 43.5 percent believed that they do not receive enough recognition for the work that they do.

"We need to publicly recognize and thank those who are going above and beyond," Duggan said.

Donaldson encouraged attendees to communicate questions and concerns directly to her and Duggan during the town hall, or to make use of the open-door policies regularly in place throughout the chain of command.

"If we want to continue to be successful … the colonel and I both need you to provide us the input so that we can help you, and so that we can better help and serve our nation and serve the people on this installation," she said.

As the floor was opened up after Duggan and Donaldson's remarks, several JBM-HH employees stood up to address issues relevant to them and their departments. The majority of the discussions centered on problems with communication.
For instance, Tony Taylor of the Directorate of Public Works cited the logistical and technological challenges of communicating among DPW's 53 employees, many of whom spend the majority of their workday outside of the administrative area.

"Communication for us is very difficult," he said.

The command team assured Taylor that new telephone, computing and Wi-Fi resources are being put in place to help alleviate such problems.

In response to the feedback provided by town hall participants, Duggan emphasized that creating or improving methods of communication within the JBM-HH workforce will be a priority going forward.

"We don't have all the answers, but I'm asking you as a base, we've got to figure this out," he said. "We can do better when it comes to communication. You guys deserve it, and the better communication we have, the more streamlined it works and the more things we can do."

Editorial note: A video of the town hall can be viewed at the following URL on the JBM-HH YouTube channel: Future articles in the Pentagram will provide further coverage of the issues addressed in the town hall.

Pentagram photojournalist Francis Chung can be reached at