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Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute Climate Survey is powerful tool for commanders

By Bryan Ripple
DEOMI Public Affairs Officer

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Launched just four years ago, the online version of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute's Organizational Climate Survey (DEOCS) has come a long way since being introduced by the DEOMI Research Directorate in October 2004.

The DEOCS questionnaire is intended for organizations with as few as 16 members, and is suitable for military and/or civilian personnel. The DEOCS allows leaders to proactively assess critical organizational climate dimensions that can impact organizational effectiveness. The questionnaire uses the shared perceptions of an organization's members to measure climate factors associated with military equal opportunity (EO) and civilian equal employment opportunity (EEO) issues, and provides an estimate of organizational effectiveness (OE).

In addition, respondents can report whether they personally experienced discrimination or sexual harassment during the past 12 months while at work, indicate the type of discrimination they experienced (e.g., race, sex, religion, etc.), and state whether they took action following the incident of discrimination or sexual harassment (e.g., reported it to an EOA/EEO representative or the supervisor, confronted the offender, or filed a formal complaint). Finally, respondents can report their level of satisfaction with how the issue of discrimination or sexual harassment was resolved, using a five-point (Very Satisfied to Very Dissatisfied) scale.

Commanders at all levels realize what an important tool DEOCS is to their commands.

"Taking care of people is a fundamental responsibility of all leaders. The DEOCS Command Climate Survey is an effective tool to assess the health and well-being of a command. The survey contributes to mission effectiveness," said Admiral Tim Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command.

Following the release of the first version of the online DEOCS, 428 individual units requested the survey during FY 05, providing valuable feedback about their commands' climate to leadership. In comparison, in October 2008 alone, 471 individual units requested the survey. Moreover, during FY 08, more than 3,000 individual units requested the DEOCS, providing leadership with highly accurate, valuable information about their units' climate.

What has led to this incredible increase in DEOCS use?

First, the online DEOCS is very easy to use and administer. Ordering the DEOCS is accomplished online in less than 15 minutes. Survey takers can complete the DEOCS from any computer with internet access, allowing them complete flexibility as to where and when they take it.

Second, the Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard have formally adopted the DEOCS as the exclusive instrument for assessing their commands' climates. These Services recognize that, because the DEOCS has been continuously validated, its accuracy and precision are assured.

Third, recent improvements to the DEOCS have made it even more sensitive to individual commands' concerns. Commanders have enjoyed the option of adding up to 10 locally-developed questions (e.g., "I can raise a concern to leadership without fear of reprisal") that survey takers can respond to using a five-point scale from "Strongly Agree" to "Strongly Disagree." The Marine Corps dedicates four standardized locally developed questions to evaluate their mentoring program; every Marine who completes the DEOCS answers those same four questions. Now, commanders can also add up to five short answer questions (e.g., "What is the greatest source of stress you experience from working here?") that help obtain comments about issues unique to their unit.

Fourth, because many Navy and Coast Guard ships lack sufficient bandwidth to administer the regular online DEOCS while underway, DEOMI created a low-bandwidth version. In September 2008, DEOMI's Research Department successfully conducted Beta testing, when more than 1,300 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) completed the DEOCS while underway.

"We wanted to conduct the Beta test in real-world conditions to get the most accurate research data possible," said Mr. Mark Dallaire of the DEOMI Research Directorate.

In November DEOMI officials made the low bandwidth version of DEOCS available via the DEOMI.org Website. This new feature makes the online DEOCS available to hundreds of ships and thousands of service members who were previously compelled to use the paper version.

The DEOCS provides commanders an accurate snapshot of their unit's climate, allowing them to proactively identify and correct climate issues that might otherwise grow more serious. This enables leaders to avoid what might otherwise become a hurdle to organizational effectiveness. To further assist commanders the paper version of the DEOCS has been translated into several languages other than English, including Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and German for use by organizations in other countries.

For more information about the DEOCS, or to request a survey, please visit the DEOMI website at http://www.deomi.org and click on the Organizational Assessment link on the left.


 
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