So I’m in the middle of my Business lecture (relax, it’s online, I’m not in a classroom, sheesh…) and it just occurred to me that while Business and Military structure are very similar, the military (or at least the Navy) seems to be missing some key points, and it’s because the Navy isn’t interested in keeping sailors happy. Because it’s the military. So that gives them the ability to just treat us like shit, and then wonder why the “good ones” leave. Well Navy, let me tell you why:
Business Concept Number 1: Equity Theory (aka: the “it’s not fair!” syndrome)
Equity Theory states that people want to be treated fairly (*gasp!* no way!) and that workers (or, in our case, sailors) expect that rewards will reflect individual contributions.
Let me say that again: “INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS!“
This whole “one team, one fight” garbage that we got shoved down our throats since freaking P-days is so over. For those who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, it’s like this: You have a division of 10-30 people or so, and one of them messes up. Like bad. Like, your whole division looks like crap because of this one dude. So, instead of Chief punishing Seaman Timmy individually, oh no, he punishes the whole damn division, because “you guys are a team! You succeed as a team, and you’ll fail as a team!”
I don’t want people to think I’m awesome when Seaman Timmy does something cool, I want them to think he’s awesome, because he earned it! Likewise, if he’s an ass-hat and screws up, why the hell should I get punished? Most likely, I wasn’t even there, and had no way of “correcting” (read: kicking his ass) him. I never understood this. Even when it was explained to me, and it was. A lot. The best I can offer is that for some reason, the salty old dogs think that it’s actually an exercise in “team building”. Let me tell you why: because back in the day (before my time) there was a little activity called “fan-room counseling” where, after the division got reamed for Seaman Timmy’s stupidity, they would all take Seaman Timmy into a fan room (less the Chief, who totally knew, but he didn’t “know”) and commence to beating the shit out of him. Why? Because he caused the entire division to get punished, and they’re pissed, and now he knows just how pissed they are. I’ll bet Seaman Timmy won’t make the same mistake (or any other mistake, for that matter) again.
Barbaric, you say? Totally. Effective? Totally. But now, we have a “kinder, gentler Navy” and we’re not allowed to hit each other, so what happens? Seaman Timmy knows he messed up, but he lacks the mental capacity to understand how pissed off everyone is at him, or, he’s just that much of a jerk that he doesn’t care, he might even get a rise out of it, because nowadays, the division can do nothing. Nothing. There is literally nothing we can do. The leaders say “train him,” but Seaman Timmy is just a perpetual failure, and now he’s got a shit-eating grin on his face, you think we can (or want to) train him? GTFO…
The other side of this is when Seaman Timmy is a perpetual fail, but for some reason he goes from Seaman to First Class in the absolute minimum amount of time. Why, you ask? Evals. Seaman Timmy has somehow convinced his Chain of Command that the sun shines out of his ass, so they give him the best collateral duties, the best evals, and the most time to study for exams. Meanwhile, you have Seaman Johnny, who is an excellent worker, autonomous, and incredibly smart, but he gets average evals, the shittiest jobs, and no time to sleep, let alone study. Want to know why? Because he’ll do it. They Chain of Command knows that he has the initiative to do it himself, so they don’t throw him so much as a bone to help him out. Seaman Timmy simply won’t succeed with so much help, but they need him to, because it makes them look better. So on paper, Seaman Timmy looks like a better sailor, even though he’s a fatass that’s out of weight standards, and keeps having babies and buying cars because he’s a goddamn idiot intent on fucking up his life (yes, baby, that was for you, I probably hate Fatty more than you).
So. Navy. Y’all need to figure out that the term “sailor” is not a collective term for everyone that can be treated as a whole. A “sailor” is a person. A person that has a need to feel valued, or they’re going to leave, or worse, stay in and just not do a damn thing. I did it. When I got fed up with this crap, I finally just stopped doing anything. I slept about 14 hours a day! All I did was stand watch, I refused to do anything else, and I didn’t care who it affected, because I had spent all those years before killing myself trying to get stuff done so that I could be seen as valuable. But I wasn’t. As soon as I realized that I was necessary but not important, I bailed. And I know a lot of other people who did too, and I’m sure there will be plenty more that will.
You can’t kick everyone out for losing their motivation, so maybe you should adjust how you treat them. Individuals are important, and if you can’t figure that out, the Navy will become a defunct enterprise. You can be as advanced as you want with your weapons, technology, and tactics, it’s not going to mean a thing if no one wants to enlist because you treat everyone like hot garbage.