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NCO Counseling Preparation

NCO Counseling information, utilizing the DA FORM 2166-8-1, and initial preparation of the NCOER

In order to be effective, NCO counseling requires a reasonable amount of time and effort for proper preparation. In order to facilitate this process, I have compiled a list of tasks that must be completed prior to conducting the counseling session. The majority of this information was derived from the former DA FORM 2166-8-1, the NCO Counseling Checklist/Record dated OCT 01. Although the form has changed, I feel that the information it contained is still valid to the current NCO counseling process. At any rate, simply be aware that the current DA FORM 2166-8-1 is an integral part of NCO counseling. I highly encourage all leaders to study it and utilize it throughout the counseling process.

  • Update the Rating Chain: Ensure that the rated NCO's rater, senior rater, and reviewer have been identified, that he or she is incorporated into the current rating scheme, and that the scheme has been approved by the chain of command.
  • Prepare the duty description: The duty description is essential for performance counseling and evaluation. It is used to tell the rated NCO what his or her duties are and what needs to be emphasized. Although, it is likely to change during the rating period, DO NOT wait until the NCOER is due to try and develop the duty description. It must be used during initial counseling to let the rated NCO know what is expected of him or her, what areas need special emphasis, and to identify any additional duties. It is then finalized and polished at the end of the rating period to accurately depict what duties were actually the most important.

The duty description consists of five elements:

1 & 2) Principal Duty Title and Duty MOS Code. Enter principal duty title and Duty MOS that most accurately describes actual duties performed.

3) Daily Duties and Scope. This portion should address the most important routine duties and responsibilities. Ideally, this should include number of people supervised, equipment, facilities, and dollars involved and any other routine duties and responsibilities critical to mission accomplishment.

It has been my experience that daily duties and scope is the most difficult to write for inexperience raters. Remember, at this point in the counseling process the duty description is nothing more than a draft that generally states the rated NCOs daily responsibilities and duty scope; it will evolve during the rating period. It may be helpful to look at the duty descriptions of other NCOs that have filled the same or similar positions in order to develop a preliminary starting point.

4) Areas of Special Emphasis. This portion is also likely to change somewhat during the rating period. For the first counseling session, it includes those items that require top priority effort at least for the first part of the upcoming rating period. At the end of the rating period, it should include the most important items that applied at any time during the rating period (examples are preparation for deployment, combined arms drills training for FTX, preparation for NTC rotation, revision of battalion maintenance SOP, training for tank table qualification, ITEP and company AMTP readiness, related tasks cross-training, and SIDPERS acceptance rates).

5) Appointed Duties. This portion should include those duties that are appointed and are not normally associated with the duty description–examples include: Key Custodian, COMSEC Custodian, Unit Movement NCO, and Barracks NCO.

  • Prepare the working copy of the NCOER: During your counseling preparation, you can finish nearly 50 percent of the NCOER. This working copy is extremely important. It not only acts as the genesis for the entire evaluation process, but more importantly, it works to provide focus to the initial counseling session. Complete Part I – Administrative Data, Part II – Authentication – and Part III – Duty Description blocks a thru f. If done correctly, there should be no doubt in the rated NCO's mind as to his or her rating chain, daily duties and scope, areas of special emphasis, and additional duties.
  • Familiariaze yourself with the values & responsibilities from the NCOER and relate them to the duty description: Values and NCO responsibilities are the sole focus for evaluation of performance in part IV of the NCOER. During the counseling session, you must be able to articulate clearly to the rated NCO how each NCO responsibility relates specifically to his or her duty description. As you review the values and responsibilities below, think about how each one applies to the rated NCO and take notes to record your conclusions.

Values: Values tell us what we need to be, every day, in every action we take. Army values from the identity of America's Army, the solid rock upon which everything else stands. They are the glue that binds us together as members of a noble profession. They make the whole much great than the sum of its parts. They are nonnegotiable: they apply to everyone all the time in every situation. Part Iva of the NOCER includes these values. They are:

Loyalty – Bears true faith and allegiance to the U.S. constitution, the Army, the unit, and the solider.

Duty – Fulfills their obligations.

Respect – Treats people as they should be treated.

Selfless-Service – Puts the welfare of the nation, the Army, and subordinates before their own.

Honor – Lives up to all the Army Values.

Integrity – Does what's right – legally and morally.

Personal Courage – Faces, fear, danger, or adversity (physical and moral).

Core Responsibilities:

Competence: The knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to be an expert in the current duty assignment and to perform adequately in other assignments within the MOS when required. Competence is both technical and tactical and includes reading, writing, speaking and basic mathematics. It is also includes sound judgment, ability to weigh alternatives, form objective opinions and make good judgments. Closely allied with competence is the constant desire to be better, to listen and learn more and do each task completely to the best of one's ability. Learn, grow, set standards, and achieve them, create and innovate, take prudent risks, never settle for less than the best. Committed to excellence.

Physical Fitness and Military Bearing:Physical fitness is the physical and mental ability to accomplish the mission – combat readiness. Total fitness includes weight control, diet and nutrition, smoking cessation, control of substance abuse, stress management, and physical training. It covers strength, endurance, stamina, flexibility, speed, agility, coordination and balance. NCOs are responsible for their own physical fitness and that of their subordinates. Military Bearing consists of posture, dress, overall appearance, and manner of physical movement. Bearing also includes an outward display of inner-feelings, and overall confidence and enthusiasm. An inherent NCO responsibility is concern with the military bearing of the individual soldier to include on-the-spot corrections.

Leadership: Influencing others to accomplish the mission. It consists of applying leadership attributes (Beliefs, Values, Ethics, Character, Knowledge, and Skills). It includes setting tough, but achievable standards and demanding that they be met; Caring deeply and sincerely for subordinates and their families and welcoming the opportunity to serve them; Conducting counseling; Setting the example by word and act/deed; Can be summarized by BE (Committed to the professional Army ethic and professional traits); KNOW (The factors of leadership, yourself, human nature, your job, and your unit); DO (Provide direction, implement, and motivate). Instill the spirit to achieve and win: Inspire and develop excellence. A soldier cared for today, leads tomorrow.

Training: Preparing individuals, units and combined arms teams for duty performance; The teaching skills and knowledge. NCOs contribute to team training, are often responsible for unit training (Squad, Crews, Sections), but individual training in the most important, exclusive responsibility of the NCO corps. Quality training bonds units: Leads directly to good discipline; Concentrates on wartime missions; Is tough and demanding without being reckless; Is performance oriented; Sticks to Army doctrine to standardize what is taught to fight, survive, and win, as small units when wartime action dictate. "Good training means learning from mistakes and allowing plenty of room for professional growth. Sharing knowledge and experience is the greatest legacy one can leave subordinates."

Responsibility and Accountability: The proper care, maintenance, use, handling, and conservation of personnel, equipment, supplies, property and funds. Maintenance of weapons, vehicles, equipment, conservation of supplies, and funds is a special NCO responsibility because of its links to the success of all missions, especially those on the battlefield. It includes inspecting soldier's equipment often, using manual or checklist; holding soldiers responsible for repairs and losses; learning how to use and maintain all the equipment soldiers use; being among the first to operate new equipment; keeping up-to-date component lists; setting aside time for inventories; and knowing the readiness status of weapons, vehicles, and other equipment. It includes knowing where each soldier is during duty hours; why he/she is going to sick call, where he/she lives, and his/her family situation; it involves reducing accidental manpower and monetary losses by providing a safe and healthful environment; it includes creating a climate which encourages young soldiers to learn and grow, and to report serious problems without fear of repercussions. Also, NCOs must accept responsibility for their own actions and for those of their subordinates.

  • Determine requirements for success:After you have reviewed each NCO value and responsibility, it is now necessary to consider what actions and/or attributes the rated NCO must portray in order to be successful under each value and responsibility. In addition, it is also important to consider those actions that will place the rated NCO clearly above his or her peers and warrant excellence. A helpful technique includes recording examples of bullets that indicate both your standards of excellence and success under each responsibility on the working copy of the NCOER. This will prove to be a valuable aid during the counseling session. By using these techniques and being thoroughly prepared for counseling, your subordinate NCOs will never be surprised with your final rating if they fall short of your expectations. They will always know not only what you expect and how to succeed but how to excel as well.
  • Prepare notes for counseling:It is not possible to prepare a proper counseling by simply using the space provided on the DA 2166-8-1 NCO Counseling Checklist/Record. A detailed initial counseling should be recorded on the DA 4856 Developmental Counseling Form. In addition to covering the job description, rating chain, responsibilities and standards. You may also want to consider:
  • Your specific expectations from your NCOs and soldiers
  • Those actions that will not be tolerated
  • Short and long term goals
  • And any other items you deem necessary for the NCO's success.

Once your notes are finished, record the highlights of the counseling on the DA 2166-8-1 NCO Counseling Checklist/Record and include a statement to see DA FORM 4856 for counseling details.

  • Review counseling tips in FM 6-22, Appendix B.

Your preparation is completed when:

  • Your counseling notes are recorded on DA Form 4856 (Developmental Counseling Form)
  • You have a working copy of the NCOER (DA Form 2168-8) with a draft duty description
  • You have a copy of the NCO Counseling Checklist (DA Form 2168-8-1)
  • You have scheduled the counseling session and notified the NCO.

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