Tools to Correct & Educate Substandard Performers

Guest Post By Mark Gerecht

As leaders, we have significant tools at our disposal to correct and educate Soldiers.  These tools range from on the spot corrections to punishment under the UCMJ.  There are numerous Non-punitive Measures that leaders can take to gain the attention of substandard performers without harming their official file by recommending an Article 15.

AR 600-20 paragraph 4-6 spells out the specifics of how to use corrective training properly.  Specifically, it states Corrective Training:

  • Must not be used as punishment or appear to be punishment
  • Must relate directly to the observed deficiency
  • Must specifically address the observed deficiency
  • Must be discontinued once the deficiency is corrected
  • Must not be used in place of UCMJ punishment.
tools to educate poor performers

Tools to educate poor performing Soldiers

Experience teaches us that when conducting corrective training the leader must:

  • Provide the proper resources to complete the training
  • Conduct training  in a safe environment
  • Not be ridiculous in nature.

Some examples of ridiculous or unsafe actions would be:

  • Cutting grass with scissors and a ruler
  • Cutting grass at night with a flashlight
  • Wearing a sign that is demeaning
  • Cleaning the latrine floor with a toothbrush.

There are times when corrective alone may not be enough to gain the Soldier’s attention or the conditions are not appropriate for corrective training. In these cases, leaders should consider revoking Soldier’s privileges.  These privileges can include:  off post pass, off post living, visitation, alcohol, tobacco, civilian clothing, civilian property, MWR, etc.  Almost every liberty we have in the military is a privilege so leaders have numerous options.  The key is that the privilege should be tied to the discrepancy.  Non-commissioned Officers can recommend privileges be revoked but only the commander that has authority to grant the privilege may revoke it.

When conducting corrective training or when recommending privileges be revoked I found it best to know and understand what motivated my Soldiers on an individual basis.  For example, I had a Soldier who took great pride in dressing to fashion.  When he needed correction I recommended his civilian clothes be removed for a period of time.  He could only wear his duty uniform and PT uniform.  Needless to say, we saw eye to eye very quickly.

It is also incredibly important that these actions be taken in a professional manner and the dignity/respect of the Soldier be maintained.  If you degrade the Soldier or gain compliance through fear you have lost the battle as a leader.  The key to using these tools is to correct and educate the Soldier.  As a leader, it is very important that you do your best to discover the root cause of the substandard performance and then use the most appropriate method to correct and educate the Soldier to ensure compliance to standard in the future.

References:  You can find more additional concerning corrective training

In the book Titled “The Mentor” Everything you need to know about leadership and Counseling at GIPUBS.com.  Link:  http://www.gipubs.com/The-Mentor-p/mtr-mentor.htm

You can also down load a class on corrective training at ASKTOP.net.

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.  He is the creator of AskTop.net, a place to get answers to your everyday Army questions.

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3 thoughts on “Tools to Correct & Educate Substandard Performers”

  1. Using education to improve a soldier’s performance is an excellent way for change for the better. I think the points about not using consequences as a way to humiliate a soldier are very important. The point of education or setting consequences is to make positive change, and if you damage a person, the chances of a positive outcome are slim. Not only that, the chances are higher for defiance and a repeat of the unwanted behavior, which puts leadership and the soldier in an unnecessary position.

  2. This is a great list of resources Chuck. Leaders need to understand what is available to them to correct sub-standard performers. Many new leaders are really clueless about what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it.

  3. Mark,

    I really like your points about know what motivates the individual Soldier. Every Soldier is different. Punishment that works for one Soldier might not work for another Soldier.

    I also like your ideas about making sure the punishment matches the crime.

    Thanks for the post.

    Chuck

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