Some people do not have ambition to grow. The way I handled this in my career was to ask the Soldier to look at it as an opportunity to better themselves, their life and their family. With a little bit of effort you can make more money, and prepare your life for a better future…even if the Soldier is planning on getting out of the military they should still do everything possible to get promoted and move ahead. If they separate from service as an E-4 most employers will take a dim view of this and believe the Soldier was in trouble and busted or a non performer. I would ask my Soldiers never to close a door or burn a bridge because once you burn it you are usually done. Example: I had a Soldier who did not want to go to the board, did not want the responsibility of becoming a Sergeant. He was getting out of the Army at ETS and did not care, otherwise a good Soldier. I went through the whole speech I just gave you he did not care. I finally gave the Soldier a counseling that outlined career progression and asked him to make a selection for a plan of action and if he selected he did not desire to be promoted and just want to ETS please give a reason. Once we did this and I showed the chain of command I had done everything possible to work with the Soldier the 1SG took a stab at it and when TOP was done it was obvious the Soldier had ticked him off.
Fast forward to 4 months prior to ETS. Who wants to REUP? That’s right all of a sudden life is a little different. Newly married baby on the way and the civilian sector ain’t looking great. The Soldier needs to go to the board to be eligible for reenlistment. No board recommendation Soldier went home. Why his poor attitude/tone and his failure to keep options open ended his options because he burnt a bridge. Now turn this picture around. If the Soldier had gone to the board, gotten promoted, he would have had extra cash in his pocket, been able to annotate leadership and responsibility on a resume to show he is trainable and capable of additional responsibility, and perhaps take advantage of the Army Education Center to add college credit at the SGT level to obtain additional college transcript points to include SLC, etc.
It really is all about having a professional attitude and keeping your options open. You can lead the horse to water but you can’t make him drink. If the Soldier cannot see the options he is taking off the table or does not care then its on him. The only other piece of advice I can offer is for you to consider asking your 1SG for some advice and try implementing that advice. If that does not work go back to the 1SG and ask the 1SG if he would like to take a stab at “mentoring the Soldier”. Make sure this is done in a possible and professional manner.
Now most of my Soldiers took the advice and ran with it. Some got out as SGTs and SSGs and had made an ETS plan that included saving money for college. etc. Others planned on getting out and got to the end of the line and for one reason or another reenlisted. Guess what they were in a great position because they did not close a door. I was later thanked by individuals in both groups. Bottonline it was their decision and they needed to take ownership.
If the 1SG is not successful he might see that some Soldiers lack ambition for whatever reason: fear of being in charge, happy where they are at, or just don’t care.
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