Many companies may describe themselves as people-centric or people-focused, but one SDVOSB, WOSB, and 8(a) has come to our attention as one that truly walks the walk. We recently caught up with Leah Sanders, CEO of D&G Support Services, to learn more about how this rapidly growing company hires, nurtures and maintains its people-focused culture.
Thinking through Growth
Recording growth of more than 40 percent over the past year, to include a growing portfolio across DHS’s many subagencies, and a team that numbers nearly 150, D&G is being deliberate and focused as it considers next steps, refining what the company is now and what it wants to be, and how it maintains its unique culture.
D&G is focused on data analytics, requirements development, and program management. Long-term plans include discussions around graduating from small status, decisions around organic growth and acquisition options, or potentially remaining small, as well as professional development for its team.
“Professional development is one area we will bring up a notch during the next year to ensure our entire team has exposure to, certifications, or specialization in data analytics. We also want to be intentional about setting our team up with managers who can facilitate and support each individual’s growth.”
Hiring with Intent
Leah says D&G supports an intensive hiring process, conducting backdoor reference checks that identify people with an outstanding work ethic who can ‘punch above their weight.’ This is fueled by a belief that people do better when they are positioned in a growth role, rather than one they are perfectly aligned to.
“We want to see people grow as much as they want. As a small business, there are places I may not be able to take people in their careers, but we will get them as far as we can here, and then if they need to go elsewhere to continue that growth, we can help with that as well. In some cases, they may leave to hit that next step, and then come back.”
Developed over two years, D&G recently implemented a new 360-degree review process, intended to help leadership be more intentional year-round when it comes to employee mentorship and provide a professional development overview.
A Culture of Connections
As it plans for future growth, D&G will be focused on how it maintains its unique culture that includes multiple calls from Leah throughout the year to check in; handwritten notes and cards; surprise gifts; and an abundance of events.
“The only things most people get in the mail are bills or things they have ordered themselves so we are big on things like handwritten notes that are personalized and based on recent conversations. We send gifts, not just around common holidays but on days like National Chocolate Cake Day for instance, so people know they are being thought of on an ongoing basis.”
Connecting a Diverse Team
Along with its custom notes and gifts, events and activities are also intended to reach across the broader team, offering options every month aimed at various interests. Recent events have included a book club complete with a customized snack box tied to the theme of the book to help people engage; a pet photo contest; a game, puzzle and trivia night; and an upcoming photo scavenger hunt that asks people to share photos of themselves volunteering, watching holiday movies, spending time with friends and family and more.
“Beyond getting people out to do things, with the scavenger hunt we’ll then share the pictures across the company as a way to connect and help people get to know each other better.”
Authentic and Genuine
All of D&G’s culture activities are driven by a common theme of understanding what people might want, what might encourage them to participate, and then committing the time and investment to make it happen.
That same feeling of authenticity is evident in the team’s engagement on social media, and in the way it supports its customers and partners. “There are so many instances where you cannot treat customers or partners in government contracting the way you might in another industry. There is also this feeling as a contractor that you have a scope of work to perform, and it is fine to stay within those boundaries. Our DNA though is based in a project management focused mindset. This means we are always looking for how can we do more which pushes us into gap identification mode and that leads us down different paths to do more for our customers and partners.”
As deliberate about its future growth plans as it is about giving back, D&G is in the midst of setting up employee-led year-round opportunities to give back to the broader community.
Among the organizations that the team supports now is Homes For Our Troops, a funded nonprofit that builds specially adapted, custom homes nationwide for severely injured Veterans and which ensures $.95 from every $1 donated goes directly to its focused efforts.
“We have traditionally had people bring forward organizations and if we vetted them and found they were doing good things, we would provide some kind of support, but we want to ensure more people have a say, and that we are more deliberate. Right now, we are putting in place something that will ask people across the company to weigh in on our giving decisions. This is another way people can connect and feel part of what the company is doing in a meaningful way.”
D&G is a people-focused company with a passion and mission to support our Nation’s Warfighters. Our high-speed, lean corporate structure empowers team members to maximize their skills, talents, and knowledge to deliver next generation solutions. D&G’s “One Team-One Fight” approach and award-winning performance has been recognized at the highest level to include the Secretary of the Army Program Team of the Year Award, DHS Secretary Project Manager of the Year Award, and DHS Secretary Acquisition Team of the Year Award.
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