Motivating unmotivated cadets

I was made IC of a flight a couple weeks ago, (Previously I was in another with no issues), and I’ve got a half and half divide between a couple of cadets who live and breathe the sqn, and those that can’t be bothered. They’ve been in for a few months, been given opportunities, and shown how to do uniform. The thing is, they’re clearly not motivated. They enjoy normal parade nights enough to come down, but don’t participate in sqn events and they’re uniform is at a far lower standard than our other flights. Does anybody know a way I can help motivate them?

Firstly welcome to the forum!

There isn’t really a catch all solution to these sorts of scenarios.
You have several different dynamics at play within a group.
Social loafers and group think take over.

You’ve mentioned that they’ve been there a few months. That might explain the view that uniform isn’t as good. It could also explain why there isn’t the engagement you want with events. They may be nervous to attend when their friends don’t, explained by the social loafing and group think.
All you can really do at this stage is encourage and lead by example.

1 Like

Firstly congrats on being given the position.

This is a pretty common thing to see.

I have a flow chart somewhere that basically goes like this:

Can’t do something - retrain
Won’t do something - review/discipline

Now NCOs can’t discipline cadets except extra duties but you can still apply the test above.

If you can separate out the can’ts they can be dealt with. If it is a ‘won’t’ ask why not. It maybe there are other factors at work.

Is there another way of motivating them? Do you have flight points or other rewards they can work to? Can you convince them to get their act together so your flight can be the best?

Is there one person dragging down the rest? Reapply the test…

Sometimes it only takes a few small changes, and it’s good that you are gripping the issue from the start.

Let us know how you get on.


Identify any causal issues - ask them. Educate if relevant.

Eradicate the issues - if there is an inability to do this from the cadets concerned, take things higher - SNCOs → OC Sqn.


Could be used for similarly unmotivated staff :man_shrugging:t2:


Congratulations on your new role! Managing people is a challenge at every level as you’re now finding. But also terribly rewarding!

Spend some time getting to know them.
You never know the reasons someone may appear unmotivated. They’re not insurmountable.

As you said, they’re getting something out of parade evenings so you’re not starting from the basement. Can you capitalise on the things they DO enjoy to increase their enjoyment level? Maybe find others to make friends with who also enjoy that activity!

Keep in mind weekend or extra activities might clash with other commitments that they have like a sporting club. We should celebrate that commitment and not hold it against them.

Also be aware there can be other circumstances holding them back.

Something we have needed to be aware of for some is that they don’t feel they can volunteer for squadron activities as their family cannot afford it. This is a delicate situation, but our squadron committees can help there.

Likewise looking after their uniform may not be a priority in their home if they don’t own an iron or cannot afford the extra electricity to run one. Some can only afford washing once in a while too…
I’ve been on a number of squadrons in deprived areas. It can help to offer practical work around a in these cases but do take it to your staff first!

You want to try motivating cadets in a compulsory service CCF…

At least ATC cadets in theory want to be there! (I know some parents push them into it.)

1 Like