It is invariable that there will come a time when leaders find a subordinate that is simply incapable of accomplishing their job. Usually this is someone that has been promoted too quickly, but it can just as easily be someone that has simply lost the care or motivation to accomplish the tasks they are given. The real challenging question is what does the leader do when put into this situation?
In the military, there may seem to be a variety of options available to correct this problem, but they are still limiting. They focus on the ability to influence the individual through either imposing a punishment, or conducting corrective training in order to reduce or improve certain conduct. Generally speaking, it is hoped that through the options being imposed, the individual will realize that life is better when they do care, and that they should perform their work accordingly.
As a leader, we go back to basic concepts of counseling. The military may feel that it is alone in this, but the business world is full of it as well. We call it feedback. Just as in the military, when it is time to let someone go, the human resources department wants to see negative trends or actions that justify firing the individual. Documentation is always key as it provides situational context to reviewing parties and shows that actions were taken and the individual was given an opportunity to correct themselves.
The next step in the military is recommendation for an article 15. This is where the military really differs from the civilian world because a manager is generally not reduced to a clerk, they are simply fired. There are three levels of article 15 non judicial punishments and the level is generally based on the severity of the action, or the number of times that the actions have occurred. The summarized article 15 is the lowest, followed by a company grade, and concluding with a field grade, handled at the Battalion level.
Service members can be reduced in rank, receiving a loss of pay, be forced to work extra duty, be placed on restriction, and find their lives burdened by requirements imposed by the command. This may seem like retaliation or punitive, but it is designed to help correct issues and does serve as a rehabilitative tool. In the event that someone does not use the opportunity to learn, the next step is generally separation from service.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about how the military is down-sizing and, in doing so, removing people who have served their country in a time of war. This could not possibly be closer to the truth. We admit it openly and freely. As leaders, it is therefore our responsibility to identify those individuals who will best benefit the organization as a whole, and work to retain their talents and capabilities. This contrasts with recognizing those who bring about negativity wherever they go, and who constantly make organizational success a challenge.
Should the military perform due diligence in ensuring that the individuals they are separating are deserving of this choice? Absolutely. Should the service member be an active participant in that discussion through their conduct day in and day out? Even more so. Each individual has the opportunity to positively or negatively influence their time in the military, and it is only a question as to whether or not the chain of command has the backbone to follow through and make sure that the right thing is done.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.