Today I want to share 5 simple ideas with you to help you get peak performance from the people you supervise.
Although the military does have a rigid rank structure, I’ve found that good interpersonal skills can help you bring out the best in others.
Sure, people will respect your rank.
But ultimately, your goal is to get people to respect you.
Listed below, I’m going to share with you five simple ideas you can implement to improve the “working relationship” with the people you supervise AND increase their productivity at the same time.
Here it goes:
# 1 Think from the Other Person’s Perspective
By nature, we are naturally selfish.
We want what’s best for us.
I’ve also found that most people tend to be biased toward their own viewpoint.
It’s their way or the highway.
And most leaders make the common mistake of never thinking from the other person’s perspective.
If a Soldier comes to you about a problem, or with an idea, try thinking of things from their perspective for a change.
Ask yourself “What would I do if I were in their shoes?”
Whenever I had a young Soldier report to my office to get counseled or reprimanded by me, the first question I ALWAYS asked myself was “What was I doing at that age?”
That kept me grounded and helped me make a fair decision.
Another question I often asked the Soldier is “What would you do if you were me and I was you?”
That also helped me think through the problem.
This doesn’t mean I let the person off the hook or just did what they recommended, but it did help me make a fair assessment of the situation.
# 2 Understand That People Are Emotional Creatures
If people were logical, no one would be overweight.
No one would speed in their car, and everyone would eat properly and exercise regularly.
Well guess what?
Humans aren’t logical creatures.
Instead, we are emotional creatures who make decisions based upon emotion, and then justify our decisions with logic.
It’s important for you to understand that.
You’ve probably followed this pattern many times yourself.
The key point here is that when you talk/listen to others, keep their emotions in mind.
Just because something makes sense on paper, doesn’t mean it will make sense to the person.
Also, you should try to appeal to people’s emotions.
Understand that some people are high strung, others are laid back, but everyone has feelings, hopes and desires.
# 3 Realize That People Want to Feel Important
Millionaire Charles Schwab said it best when he said, “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.”
I’ve found that most people leave a job (or the military) because they feel unappreciated.
It’s not the pay, not the power or anything else.
They just felt like no one really cared about them.
As a leader you have a responsibility to make people feel important.
You can do this by explaining how “what they are doing” fits into the bigger picture.
Additionally, you should give them continuous feedback about their performance.
When they do a great job, they should be rewarded.
When they fail to meet the standard, they should be held accountable.
And when they meet the standard, you should say good job.
It really is that simple.
Write thank you notes.
Submit your Soldiers for awards.
Give them a coin.
Or simply look them in the eye and tell them “I appreciate you.”
It won’t cost you anything, but it sure will make a big difference.
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# 4 Listen More Than You Speak
I once heard that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Most leaders make the mistake of talking too much.
Don’t do that.
Make it a priority to listen more.
The easiest way to do this is to ask questions.
Remember, the more you talk, the less intelligent you sound.
But when the boss is listening, everyone thinks highly of he or she (and is wondering what they are thinking).
# 5 Create a Friendly Competition
I’ve found that people like a little friendly competition.
For instance, if your Unit Armorer cleaned 10 weapons today, challenge them to clean 11 tomorrow.
If one platoon averaged a 220 on their APFT, challenge the other platoon to beat that score.
When you create a little friendly competition in your unit, your unit’s performance will skyrocket.
And you can make anything a competition: cleaning the latrines, PMCS, weapons qualification and just about anything else.
The secret is to get creative and find small things that can make a big difference.
In conclusion, there are many different things you can do to improve the performance of your unit.
By following the five ideas listed in this article, you will bring out the best in your Soldiers and improve your unit’s performance.
You will create a peak performance atmosphere.
P.S. If you have never read Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” you should.
It is hands down the best “people skills” book I have ever read.
Do you have any comments?
Please give them below.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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6 thoughts on “Five Ideas to Create a Cohesive Military Team”
I can't tell you how many supervisor's I've seen who were unable or unwilling to see anything from their people's point of view. An 18 year old E-1 is going to have different challenges than a battle tested E-7 or a brand new officer. Plus everyone has different backgrounds, experiences and personalities. If you try to paint everyone with one brush you will not be successful.
I agree. You really have to know each person that you supervise and find out what makes them tick.
These are great tips to have a team you will be proud of. I especially like the first one. If we all use empathy, and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, we will have a deeper understanding of their position, and why they are thinking or acting the way they are. I also agree that competition is a great thing too. It does need to be friendly though. In some cases, competitions are developed that turn into chaotic and hateful engagements. Competitions need to be developed with with wisdom, so that everyone competing feels it is fun and fair.
When it comes to building a winning team, you need to have unity of purpose. Everyone must be working toward a common goal. Also, the followers need to know that their leader has a plan and also has their best interest in mind.
The best way to create a cohesive team is to have a crystal, clear purpose. Everyone must have a common goal to pursue.
I can always identify a great leader because their team is running cohesively. These things do not happen by chance by are the sign of leaders who have a goal of getting people to respect them. With this respect, you can consistently get your people to perform at peak performance. Number 3 on your list is spot on. When someone feels important, they remember who it was that made them feel that way.