In today’s post, I want to talk about how to motivate disgruntled Soldiers. This was a question I received from one of my website visitors and I think it is a great question. If you lead Soldiers, there’s a good chance that you will have a few disgruntled Soldiers from time-to-time. Your job as a leader is think outside the box and to keep your team motivated.
In the paragraphs below, I want to share seven simple ways to motivate disgruntled Soldiers. These are different techniques I used throughout my career that worked well for me.
# 1 Find Out Why They Are Disgruntled
Soldiers are disgruntled for different reasons. Some might simply dislike the Army. Others might have a problem with the unit’s mission or chain of command. Some Soldiers might have been passed over for promotion or for a specific job they wanted. Your job as a leader is to find out the “root cause” of the problem by sitting down with the Soldier and find out what is going on. Only then can you really deal with the problem.
# 2 Think Of Things From Their Perspective
It’s easy to judge others. Before you are quick to form an opinion about your Soldier or their situation, try to think of things from their perspective. You never really know what someone is going through until you see things from their perspective, or have walked a mile in their shoes. Ask yourself, what would I do or what would I be thinking if I was Private Snuffy? This will give you a reality check and help you be more objective.
# 3 Make Them Feel Appreciated
One of the greatest reasons that people feel disgruntled at work, in life, or in the military is because they don’t feel appreciated. They feel that no one values their contributions to the organization. As a leader, you can help change that. Consider putting the Soldier in for an award (if they are worthy). Tell them you appreciate them by writing them a thank you note. Sit down with them at lunch during drill weekend and talk to them. Find a creative way to recognize them in front of their peers. Help them get promoted or find a school they want/need. It’s true, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
# 4 Let Them Know They Are Part of a Team
Similar to rule # 3, people want to know they are part of something greater than themselves. Your job as a leader is to SHOW your Soldiers how their actions and job fits into the bigger picture. Show them that they add value to the organization (assuming they do) and that they are an important part of the team.
# 5 Consider Transferring Them to Another Unit or Section
Sometimes a Soldier is unhappy with the unit or section. If that is the case, and you’ve tried to remedy the situation doing other things, I highly suggest you transfer the Soldier to another section or unit. Maybe they are unhappy with the unit or chain of command and want a second chance somewhere else. Assuming they aren’t a dirt bag Soldier, I would rather let them transfer to a different unit than get out. I’ve seen many Soldiers who transferred to a new unit, got a new beginning, and absolutely excelled in their new unit.
# 6 Realize that Some People Are Naturally Unhappy
You might not realize this yet, but some people are miserable, disgruntled or unhappy with the situation, no matter what. Some folks are naturally depressed, have a bad attitude, or simply can’t find happiness. If your Soldier is one of those folks, get them help, such as a mental health evaluation.
# 7 Leverage the Chaplain
The Chaplain is a great resource for small unit leaders. They are trained in ways that you aren’t! Consider having the Chaplain talk to the Soldier to get to the root cause of the problem. They might get inside information from the disgruntled Soldier that you couldn’t get on your own.
BONUS TIP: My special bonus tip is to provide tough, realistic training. Do some hooah things! Get out of the armory and go do something fun in the field. No one joined the Army to sit around the armory every drill weekend. Units that do tough training normally have high morale and high discipline. And realize this: if you have a bunch of disgruntled Soldiers in your unit, they are not the problem, YOU ARE. Remember, units are a reflection of their leader.
These are just seven simple things you can do to motivate disgruntled Soldiers. At the end of the day it’s your job to motivate and train your team. Everyone on your team is different and requires different leadership and different motivation. You need to invest the time to get to know your Soldiers and find out what makes them tick. By following the seven tips mentioned above, you should be able to motivate your disgruntled Soldiers (and good Soldiers).
What are your thoughts? What do you do to motivate disgruntled Soldiers? Leave a comment and let us know.