Overworked Commanders Need Time Management Help

Overworked Commanders Need Time Management Help

Photo by: U.S. Army

The Army’s company-level leaders work an average of 12.5 hours every day in garrison, which takes a toll on their personal lives and may impact their ability to excel and advance in their careers, according to a new Rand Corp. report.

Senior Army leaders have eliminated several redundant tasks and worked to reduce the burden on commanders, but the Rand researchers warn that there’s “no quick fix to the time-burden problem.” Given the “number, variety and importance of the tasks” involved, the Army will need to implement a variety of time management strategies to make a difference, the report says.

The leaders surveyed by Rand, including company commanders, executive officers and first sergeants, said they’re willing to work long hours to meet DoD and Army requirements but “would welcome some relief,” the report says.

Many officers interviewed said they were frustrated by the high demands and estimated their workdays would need to be two hours shorter to maintain a healthy balance.

“Even with such a reduction, company leaders would still be among the hardest-working Americans,” the report says.

From equipment maintenance and accountability to unit-specific training and taskings from higher headquarters, the Army is “aware of the potentially excessive time demands placed on its company leaders,” the report says.

A 2002 Army War College study found the days required to complete all the Army’s mandatory training “literally exceeds the number of training days available to company commanders,” according to the report. In 2015, a study by the Army G-3/5/7 found “an unacceptable level of friction” between balancing readiness with other Army requirements.

In response, when he was Army secretary, Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued a series of memos in 2018 eliminating or streamlining several mandatory training and administrative requirements for commanders.

The Rand report lauded senior Army leaders’ efforts to reduce the burden on commanders but added that one of the biggest challenges “appears to be implementing them in practice.”

“The Army should develop a sustained, multipronged attack on the time burden problem. Though progress will be gradual, through a concerted effort, the Army can successfully reduce the time burdens of company commanders so their workdays are long but not excessively so,” the report says.

Read the full report here.