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You just finished your doctoral studies and completed your year-long internship in clinical psychology. As a doctoral level provider, you have earned the rank of Captain in the Air Force or Army (if Navy you would be a Lieutenant – same level of authority). From an Officer’s perspective, you are junior. However, you outrank all members on the enlisted side, who make up most of the armed forces. You even outrank the E-9 within your unit, an individual who no doubt has more military experience, wisdom, and knowledge than you, although not as thoroughly trained and versed in the assessment, treatment, and diagnosis of behavioral disorders, as you are. The E-9 used to be a combat medic, certainly had combat deployments, and eventually cross-trained to the role of Mental Health Technician, due to low manning in the field. He lacks effort in getting to know you and his morning greetings have been nothing more than nodding his head as you pass each other in the hallway. You also have an E-7 in your unit, who demonstrates motivation, enthusiasm, and a proactive nature. She is the type to check in on you to make sure you are transitioning smoothly into your new role. She has several years before retiring, thus, has more of an intrinsic reason to continue working diligently.
The E-9 is within one year of retirement which you believe has led to little motivation to work. Upon learning about your staff, you are informed that historically, he is a good worker, respected and relied upon often as a combat medic for 15 years, but has become more careless, less empathic, misses suspenses (deadlines) and comes into work just “counting down the days” until retirement. Objectively, you understand he probably has seen enough. However, subjectively, you cannot allow it to affect your mission of providing the best mental health care possible. Here you are, a new Captain with years ahead of you, faced with your first staff-personality challenge. It is up to you to rectify it.
What difficulties do you anticipate having? How do you think you would approach him if you decided to? Privately or publicly? Or, maybe approaching him at all would be ill-advised? Would you consult with anyone first? Why or why not? There is no right or wrong answer as of course, there are many variables to consider, such as your own personality traits (and how cranky you might be from a poor night’s sleep). The purpose is to get your creativity flowing, to place you into this unique world of the military. After all, staff conflict exists everywhere, and the added factor of rank makes conflict more interesting.
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One difficulty that I anticipate having in approaching the E-9 is his lack of motivation and carelessness in his work. As a new medical professor, it is important for me to establish a team that is dedicated to providing the best possible education to the medical college students. The E-9’s attitude and behavior may not only affect his own performance but also have a negative impact on the overall effectiveness of the team. It may be challenging to address this issue with someone who has more military experience and higher rank than me, but it is crucial to address it in order to maintain a high standard of education.
If I decide to approach the E-9, I would do so privately. It is important to give him the respect he deserves as a senior military member while also addressing the issue at hand. By having a private conversation, I can express my concerns and expectations without embarrassing him or diminishing his authority. This approach may also allow him to feel more comfortable voicing any concerns or frustrations he may have, which could contribute to his lack of motivation.
Before approaching the E-9, I would consult with other senior officers or advisors to gain their perspectives and advice. This would provide me with different insights and strategies on how to handle the situation effectively. Consulting with others who have more experience in leadership and personnel matters can help me come up with a well-thought-out approach that takes into consideration the specific dynamics and challenges of the military environment.
Overall, the difficulty lies in addressing a senior military member’s lack of motivation and carelessness without undermining their authority and experience. By approaching the E-9 privately and seeking advice from senior officers, I can navigate this challenge while maintaining a professional and respectful environment within the team.