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Research Questions

  1. What are the physical demands of company leaders' job duties?
  2. What are the psychological demands of company leaders' job duties?
  3. What resources are available to help achieve work goals?
  4. What resources are available to help reduce job demands?
  5. How can personal growth, learning, and development be stimulated?
  6. What aspects of Army culture hinder company leaders' job duties?

Company leaders in the U.S. Army—company commanders, executive officers, and first sergeants—have long been recognized as overworked. Company leaders implement Army and Department of Defense (DoD) requirements through the careful management of the training and duties of their frontline soldiers. Their jobs are burdensome in part because of the number of requirements imposed on them by higher headquarters. These requirements also include garrison tasks that compete for company leaders' time, such as providing personnel for installation support, participating in community events, and coordinating the visits of distinguished guests.

This report aims to help the Army identify ways to reduce and manage the time burdens on Active Component company leaders in garrison. The authors adopted the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model from the work design literature. The model considers two levers—job demands and job resources—to address the challenges of reducing time burdens at both organizational and individual worker levels. Through this model, the problem was organized into three categories for analysis: mitigating job demands through clarity of purpose and task; enhancing job resources with capital improvements to training and resources; and facilitating cultural changes to highlight leaders' awareness of time burdens and improve the productive use of time.

Key Findings

Company leaders' jobs are difficult due to demands

  • Company leaders are focused on mitigating job demands.
  • There is overtasking by higher echelons.
  • There are competing taskings from multiple higher echelons.
  • Senior leaders lack understanding of time requirements.
  • There is a hyperfocus on details rather than substance.

Company leaders' jobs are difficult due to a lack of appropriate resources

  • There is a lack of resources at the company level.
  • There is a lack of skills and experience at the company level.
  • There is a lack of personnel at the company level.

Company leaders' jobs are difficult due to the job environment

  • There is a lack of commitment to reducing the time burden.
  • There is an unwillingness to accept prudent risk.
  • Company commanders are reluctant to report honestly.

Recommendations

  • Define and concentrate effort on important tasks, and critically screen urgent tasks.
  • Minimize distractions through consolidation and discipline.
  • Appreciate tasking time.
  • Focus on metric meaning.
  • Augment access to, compatibility with, and the capability of technical systems.
  • Enhance formal training and support tools.
  • Increase personnel available to company leaders to support administrative and installation support tasks.
  • Enforce existing timeline-related doctrine and policy.
  • Provide autonomy to company leaders.
  • Encourage pushback based on an accurate assessment of current capabilities.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Company Leaders' Job Demands and Resources

  • Chapter Three

    Strategies for Managing Time Burdens

  • Chapter Four

    Recommendations to Reduce Time Burdens

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Survey Administered During Focus Groups

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the Personnel, Training, and Health Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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