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Last Updated: 20 Jan 17

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since 20 Jan 08.

My NCO Counseling Ground Rules

NCO counseling tips, techniques and advice from a senior noncommissioned officer with years of experience counseling and mentoring soldiers

Counseling is one of the most important duties we have as leaders of Soldiers. It is the tool by which we mentor, develop, and prepare our subordinates to fill our key Army leadership positions after we are gone. If you ever find yourself questioning the importance of your duty to counsel simply ask yourself, "What kind of legacy am I leaving behind?"

The following are a few basic counseling guidelines that I have developed to get you thinking about the counseling process. This is a living document and by no means all inclusive. I will add additional rules as I think of them or as they are suggested by my visitors.

Rule #1: Do your counseling

A lack of emphasis on NCO counseling leaves the rater jumping through hoops at the end of the rating period trying to develop a duty description and bullets which support it. This is not the way to do business. This is not how you take care of Soldiers. Do not put yourself in an ethical dilemma where you are forced to fudge your NCO’s counseling dates to get a report pushed through admin.

NCO performance counseling is absolutely essential to improve performance and professional development of the Army’s noncommissioned officers. There is no better tool in which to develop and mentor our enlisted leaders. You OWE it to your subordinate NCOs to let them know where they stand and what they need to do to succeed throughout their rating period. Remember, counseling at the end of the rating period is too late because it doesn’t afford time for the rated NCO to improve performance or correct deficiencies.

Rule #2: Become intimate with AR 623-3, DA PAM 623-3 and its supporting publications such as ADP 6-0, Mission Command, ADP 6-22, Army Leadership, and ATP 6-22.1, The Counseling Process

Army regulation 623-3, (Evaluation Reporting System), is your primary source for information regarding completing evaluation reports and associated support forms that are the basis
for the Army’s Evaluation Reporting System (ERS). It provides principles of support, standards of service, and policy governing all work required, including Army evaluations policy and guidance regarding redress programs, which include Commander’s or Commandant’s Inquiries and appeals.

By being familiar with the rules and requirements governed by Army regulation, you will be able to produce your reports more efficiently, more accurately, and more fairly. In addition, your subordinate NCOs will appreciate the fact that you know what you are doing.

Rule #3: Be prepared

Have you ever sat through a speech or presentation where the speaker was not prepared? As the speaker stood there with a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face what kind of impression did he make? If you open a counseling session without proper preparation, you will be making this same impression on your subordinate. Nothing says, "I don't care" like lack of preparation. Before you schedule a counseling session, know the facts, know the impact, develop the plan of action, and put it all in writing. Be professional, be prepared.

Rule #4: Know your limitations

Even the best leaders occasionally need help from outside sources or organizations; don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. AR 623-3 is your best resource for NCO counseling and the NCOER; however, no regulation can possible cover every conceivable situation. When questions arise, ask for help. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Your Senior NCOs: Your Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, and Sergeant Major have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Use it to your advantage
  • Your administrative personnel: Your Company PAC, Battalion S-1, Division G-1, and Personnel Service Battalions all have assigned administrative experts who can help you answer questions about your unit polices, as well as provide clarification for regulatory requirements.
  • Your Judge Advocate General: JAG can help provide guidance in those rare situations where disciplinary action is warranted.
  • Your Inspector General: The IG is another source of information to help clarify regulatory requirements and guidance.

In order to be successful, you must be actively engaged in the counseling process. As a final bit of advice, remember to always utilize your Chain of Command and NCO Support Channel when problems arise.

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