July 1, 2012  

Ask the troops

TO SGT. MAJ. OF THE ARMY RAYMOND CHANDLER, who asked his troops what they think of their service’s year-old promotion-system reforms.

By opening up the controversial decision to public discussion on Facebook, Chandler took a calculated risk that many authority figures wouldn’t chance.

Instead, Chandler was flooded with thoughtful, respectful and constructive analysis and suggestions for improving the new promotion point scoring system.

By opening the discussion up to those it affects, the Army gained insights and buy-in from the troops it most wants to retain as the force shrinks and competition for assignments and promotions heats up.

Many a military leader can gain from listening to the troops before taking action. Some service leaders’ biggest blunders — the Army’s black beret comes to mind — came about because decisions makers didn’t fully understand how they might be viewed by their troops once announced.

The Army is not a democracy, and soldiers can’t expect to weigh in on every policy decision. But by opening the topic up for discussion, soldiers will appreciate being heard — and that alone will minimize discontent.