Five Things Every Army Supervisor Should Know About their Subordinates

In today’s post, I’m going to talk about five things every Army Supervisor should know about their subordinates.  Knowing these five things about each person you directly supervise can have a big impact on your performance and your section/unit’s performance.  It can also make your life as a supervisor MUCH easier.

Personally, I believe that every Army supervisor, regardless of rank or position, has an obligation to:

  • Maximize their subordinate’s results and contributions
  • Grow, nurture and develop their people

In order to do this, you need to know EACH person that you supervise very well.  You have to know what they bring to the table and where they need improvements, so you can be an effective leader. The five things listed below are a good starting point in regards to what you should know about each person you supervise.

# 1 Their Strengths and Weaknesses – Ultimately, you need to know what each one of your follower’s is good at, and what they aren’t good at.  Know their strengths and weaknesses.  Are they organized?  Are they lazy?  Are they a doer?  Are they a people person? Do they like doing reports and correspondence?  Are they good under pressure and deadlines?  Are they hands on?  Do they like the details or big picture?

Why do you need to know all these things?  First off, you want to help them improve their strengths.  You want to put them in situations where they can naturally excel, doing things they are naturally good at.  You can also give them challenges to help them grow as leaders and develop as a person.   This will also let you know where and how you can mentor, develop and grow them into better leaders.

Two of the best things you can do as a leader is to give your people a personality test and skills test, so they can discover how they tick and what they are naturally good at.  I did both of those things in the Army and it helped me immensely.

# 2 What Motivates Them – Everyone is motivated differently.  Some people are self-motivated.  Others have very little motivation.  Some folks are motivated by awards and recognition while others are motivated by time off or money.  Ideally, you want to find out what motivates each person that you lead.  The best way to find out is simply to ask them “what motivates you?”  That information will help you maximize the performance of each person.

# 3 How Each Person Thinks – Everyone has a different thought process, based upon a variety of factors.  You want to know what each person thinks and how they think!  How do they come to decisions?  How do they process information in their head?  All of this information will help you significantly, as you try to communicate, lead and nurture your people.  As you spend time with people, you will start to figure this out.  Is the person quick to make a decision or do they like to get all the facts first?  Are they cautious or do they just jump into decisions? Are they naturally optimistic or pessimistic?

# 4 Their Career Goals -Everyone has different career goals.  Some folks want to just do 20 years and they don’t care about what rank they make. Others want to make it to the top ranks in the minimum time possible.  Some folks want to do one tour and get out.  Your job is simply to find out what each one of your subordinate’s wants and then help them formulate a plan to reach their goals.  You can do this through good career counseling.  Don’t treat them bad or differently because they have different career goals than you do.

# 5 How They Interact with Others and Build Relationships – You want to know what type of people skills each person has.  Do they naturally work better with women or men?  Are they confident or passive?  Are they better as a lone wolf or in a group setting?  Once again, knowing this information can help you make the person successful, and help them improve their areas of weakness.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  These are five things every Army supervisor should know about their subordinates.  Knowing these five things is a good starting point to becoming an effective leader.

How do you learn all of these things about your subordinates?  First and foremost, you need to spend one-0n-one time with each of them. You need to work together, spend time together and get to know them as a person, not just a co-worker.  You have to find out what makes them tick, what they like, and what is important to them.  This takes time to do, but it is time well spent.

You also need to OBSERVE them in action and take note of it.  Another good tip is to do your counseling with them on a regular basis and share your feedback with them.

What are your thoughts on this?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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6 thoughts on “Five Things Every Army Supervisor Should Know About their Subordinates”

  1. These are all great points in how to know about subordinates.

    I just wanted to add that none of these will be known unless you spend just a little quality time with each one.

    I believe it is a good idea to keep a small notebook with a place for each person. As you learn something new about them, jot it down. Chuck, you mentioned asking what motivates a person. In many cases, people will always say money, but it can be surprising how many will be motivated with just a little recognition. Just saying great job, or patting a person on the back can be a huge motivator.

    I believe it is also quite important that you learn if a person is introverted or extroverted. This will help a lot on where you have them.

  2. Theresa Williams

    I think the third on this list, knowing how people think, is the hardest and most tedious for an army supervisor to figure out or know about subordinates. It requires a lot of time and observation and investment and it can be confusing. It is worthwhile, though. It’s hard to get out of our own minds sometimes to get into someone else’s.

  3. There are perhaps dozens of things an Army supervisor should know about their subordinates, but these five stand out as being the most important. They are the essential five pieces of information to have if you want to develop soldiers and maximize their potentials. A great Army supervisor is a mentor to his or her subordinates – he or she should bolster strengths and build on weaknesses, find out how to motivate each member of his or her section/unit and understand their thought processes. Additionally, the supervisor should help their soldiers strive for their career goals and help make them reality.

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