7 Tips to Improve the Army Officer and NCO Relationship

I’d like to share seven tips to improve the Army Officer and NCO relationship.  Most Officers and NCOs get along great and work well together.  They are like a well oiled machine.  But in some rare cases the relationship is dysfunctional or could use some major improvements.  Whether you have a great Army Officer and NCO relationship or a bad one, I can offer you a few helpful tips to help you improve.  These are things I used during my military career that worked well for me.  This advice is for both NCOs and Officers.

# 1 Conduct Your Counseling

As the Officer, you should always conduct your required written counseling with your NCO.  This includes the initial counseling, quarterly counseling, event oriented counseling, promotion counseling, etc.  Sit down with your NCO from day one and tell them your expectations.  Put everything in writing and show them that you are a professional and care about their success.

army officer and nco relationship
Learn more about the Army Officer and NCO Relationship.

# 2 Know Your Role and Stay in Your Lane

From the beginning of the rating period the Officer and NCO should sit down and determine who is responsible for what.  The easiest way to do this is to take out a dry erase board and list everything your section is responsible for.  After you do that, assign tasks that the Officer is responsible for and tasks the NCO is responsible for.  That way whenever something happens, you know which person is responsible for doing that task.  Once you do this exercise, make sure that you stay in your lane and don’t try to do your boss’s (or subordinate’s) job for them.

# 3 Be Good at Your Job

Take pride in what you do and be your best.  When you are good at what you do, your boss won’t have to worry about you won’t have to worry about your subordinates either. This means you need to be reliable, do what you say, and be technically and tactically proficient.

# 4 Treat Each Other with Mutual Respect

You must treat each other with mutual respect.  Even if you don’t like each other, you should treat each other well.  If nothing else, respect the rank not the individual.  Please know that all relationships are founded on mutual respect.

# 5 Always Keep the “Mission” as the Top Priority

Always keep the mission the # 1 priority.  Put your personality differences aside if needed and focus on mission accomplishment.  When you do that, you have a common purpose.  The unit, the Soldiers and the mission are always the most important thing.  Your needs come second.

# 6 Maintain Open and Honest Communication

Both the Officer and NCO need to be able to communicate with each other openly and honestly.  There should always be two way communication.  The Officer needs to provide honest feedback and needs to know how to listen to her NCO.  The same holds true for the NCO.  If the NCO has a problem, she should be able to address her Officer without fear of reprimand.  The day the two of you stop communicating with each other is the day you lose your leadership effectiveness.

# 7 Be Supportive and Loyal to Each Other

As a team, you should be loyal to each other.  That means you support each person’s decisions, even when you don’t agree with them.  It also means that you don’t talk bad about each other.  If you have a problem with the other person, you talk to them about it and no one else.

Final Thoughts

These seven tips should help you improve your Army Officer and NCO Relationship.  To be honest, relationships are never easy, especially work relationships.  If you can follow the advice in this article, you should at least improve your relationship.  What are your thoughts?

If you have any opinions or questions, please post them below. Thank you.


10 thoughts on “7 Tips to Improve the Army Officer and NCO Relationship”

  1. Faith A. Coleman

    It is possible, even when two people don’t like each other, to act like adults, do the right thing, without getting jerked around by feelings. It seems, though, like a lot of people want to explain their behavior as somehow being out of their control because they are responding to feelings and believe it justifies their behavior not being more responsible and guided by the needs of the situation, common sense, mission first. This principle is one that could be used more often in the civilian world.

    1. The bottom line is that people need to get a grip on their emotions. When you work together, you should have a common purpose. Even if the Officer and NCO don’t get along well they should always put the mission and Soldiers first. Do that and things will work out fine.

  2. Great tips, Chuck. Here are a few things I can think of: respect, mutual trust, good communication, knowing your job, being loyal to each other, and always placing the mission first.

  3. I can say this is one of the toughest things I have to deal with when I was a young platoon leader. I am not saying that I am arrogant or do not listen to my platoon sergeant, but being a National Guard soldiers cause miscommunication between us. My platoon sergeant always does his thing without informing me or gives excuses (word from 1SG and my experience). I am not saying my platoon sergeant is a bad NCO, yet he is one of the most respected NCO in my company. The problem is that he has a tendency to find his own way to get out of things especially an order. We had a big argument once because of his failure to obey a direct order, especially one from the Battalion Commander. Although things finally work out between us, I did learn a lot to work with a partner and it challenge me as a leader to enforce standard and personality as a leader.

    1. We can learn more from a bad situation than we often do in a good situation. Learning to communicate effectively and work together with someone else can be challenging. It sounds like you made some progress with your Platoon Sergeant and learned from the situation.

  4. Knowing your role and staying in your lane is the most important item on this list in my opinion. Too many times, officers try to take care of individual training that NCO’s are supposed to be conducting. This is why communication, another item on your list, is key. NCO’s need to be able to talk with their officers openly and honestly and officers should have an open door for their NCO’s. Communication and delegation of tasks is key to a cohesive unit.

    1. I agree that staying in your lane is very important. Most NCOs/Officers will struggle with this area until they sit down together and determine roles and responsibilities. Some things are obvious, but there are many gray areas that need to be hashed out. The best time to do this is during the initial counseling. The Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant should make a list outlining who will be responsible for what. That way when something happens, each person will know who is responsible to fix it.

      Chuck Holmes

  5. Great (and all valid) points. Thus far I’ve been lucky to have had mostly good relationships with my officers. Talking through who will take what responsibilities is an excellent idea. Despite all the times I’ve heard the phrase “That’s NCO business” thrown around, I’ve found that there are no bright lines between officer responsibilities and NCO responsibilities. Yes, there are things that we know officers always do and NCOs always do, but far more things are less clear-cut. Assuming that the other guy (or gal) is going to handle something when they have the same assumption about you means things will fall through the cracks. Funny, once again we find ourselves seeing the value of good communication.

    1. Yes, there are certain things the Officer should do and certain things the NCO should do, but like you said there are many grey areas. I think those grey areas should be matched up with people’s strengths. For instance, if the NCO is great administrator, he can take the lead on a lot of the admin activities. Or, if the officer is great with counseling, he can have a very active role with the Soldiers, along with the First Sergeant. The officer and NCO relationship is like a marriage. And every marriage is unique. There is no one one way fits all.

      Chuck Holmes

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