Annual Training Awards: 7 Tips for Success

I want to share seven tips for doing Annual Training Awards.  While these tips are geared toward Company Commanders, I believe the information will help any small unit leader, either Officer or NCO.

Annual Training Awards: 7 Tips for Success

Tip # 1: Create a Shell Before Annual Training

One of the best things you can do is create a shell award before Annual Training.  Use a shell for AAMs and ARCOMs so when you go to write the award, you have a good starting point.  This will save a lot of time.  You can find some example Annual Training Awards online, so you don’t have to recreate the wheel.

Tip # 2: Prepare One or Two Awards for Things Done During AT Prep

There are lots of great things that get done prior to Annual Training, especially by your AGR Staff.  Why not write up 1-2 awards for things that your good Soldiers do during AT Prep?  This will put you ahead of the power curve and make life easier for the S1 Section.

Tip # 3: Find Out What Your Senior Commander Expects

Another simple tip is to find out what your senior commander wants.  For example, if you are a Company Commander, just ask your boss what their expectations are about awards for Annual Training.  They will tell you.  And if you are a Platoon Leader, ask your Company Commander what their policy is.  By all means, you can exceed their policy, but at least know the minimum requirement.

Tip # 4: Don’t Hand out Formal Awards Like Candy

I don’t believe in handing out AAMs and ARCOMs like candy.  Yes, they are good to use, but there are also many other “informal” awards for Soldiers who do a good job, but don’t do anything exceptional.  Consider tools such as unit coins, Certificates of Achievement or Appreciation, and anything else you can think of.

Tip # 5: Have Your Awards Finished by Day 7 of Annual Training

You have to be proactive.  Don’t wait until the last day of Annual Training to hand all of your awards to the S1 Section and then expect them to get them processed in one day.  As a rule of thumb, have at least 80% of your awards turned in by Day 7 and the remaining 20% turned in by Day 10.  This advice assumes you have a 14 day Annual Training.  This gives the S1 Section enough time to do their job.

Tip # 6: Empower Your Subordinates to Write the Awards

If you are  a Company Commander, you do not and should not write ALL the awards yourself.  By all means, you can personally write awards for your command team and direct reports.  But don’t write the awards for your junior enlisted Soldiers.  Empower the supervisor of each Soldier (Team Leaders) to write the first draft anyway.  You can edit and finalize the awards, but make the lowest level leaders do the brunt of the work.

Tip # 7: Don’t Drop the Ball

My last tip is don’t drop the ball on Annual Training Awards. As a small unit leader, you have the responsibility to recognize your Soldiers for their achievements.  Make sure that you are proactive and make sure that a good amount of your Soldiers are recognized, either with formal or informal awards.  Most Soldiers will do at least one thing well during AT so make sure you find ways to recognize them.  There is nothing more damaging to morale, especially during AT, than no one being recognized.

Final Thoughts

Annual Training Awards can be a pain in the butt, but as a small unit leader you need to make sure that you schedule the time to get the awards done.  Be proactive, have a game plan and follow through.  It doesn’t have to be difficult.

What are your thoughts about Annual Training Awards?  Leave a comment and let us know.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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6 thoughts on “Annual Training Awards: 7 Tips for Success”

  1. Tip #6 is a great idea. Giving Team Leads the responsibility of writing awards for those soldiers directly under them forces them to take a look at their soldiers’ achievements. They also have more direct interaction and communication with them on a more regular basis and are more familiar with their strengths and personalities. This task makes the Team Lead feel more like a leader and encourages them to take charge.

  2. I am in total agreement with Justin. Some awards are given just to give them out. Soldiers will see through this at some point and the awards will mean nothing. Recognition is a great thing, but handled improperly, it is like shooting yourself in the foot.

    I also like the part about kicking back poor writing detail. The soldier is only as good as his/her leader. Make sure paperwork is done properly.

  3. I am really shocked when I see the awards approved whenever they are just poorly written. I understand that people want to process the award for that Soldier, but it doesn’t help the leader who is writing poorly. I say kick them back and make that Soldier redo them as a way to learn how to write better. That’s just me… I do it with my NCOERs and counseling.

  4. I would add to this and say…take your time to write good, articulate bullet comments. Working with my S1 shop has taught me some things. One, I see the caliber of verbiage that some people submit for their awards and I just have to shake my head. Take the time to highlight what the Soldier did and WHY it deserves an award. Be specific and included as much detail as you need. Lastly, don’t give a Soldier an award just to give an award. They had to have done something that was extra-ordinary…

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