In today’s post, I’d like to discuss Army Company Training Meetings. This advice is geared for Army Reserve and Army National Guard Company Commanders, but will also benefit Active Duty officers.
Personally, I don’t like company training meetings. No, I take that back. I hate company training meetings that accomplish nothing and wastes my time. To take it one more step, I hate ANY meeting that wastes my time and accomplishes nothing. I’m sure you feel the same way, too.
In the military, we are known for having lots of meetings. Some meetings are within our control and others aren’t.
As the Company Commander, you typically attend a monthly battalion training meeting and also have your own company training meeting. From time-to-time, you might even attend a Brigade or State level meeting. Simply put, it comes with the job.
Although you can’t control how others conduct their meeting, you have complete control over how you conduct your own meetings.
My goal in the paragraphs that follow is to help you have effective and efficient company level meetings. We will discuss different tips and strategies that worked well for me during my time in command.
Effective training is the Army’s number one priority during peacetime. Training management is the process used by Army leaders to identify training requirements and then plan, resource, execute and evaluate training. At the company level, as at all levels of command, the training meeting is an essential element of the training management process. ~ Army ROTC University of Michigan
Army Company Training Meetings: Tips for Success
If you are a Company Commander in the ARNG or USAR, one of your responsibilities is to conduct a monthly company training meeting (CTM).
The purpose of this company training meeting is to review last month’s training, discuss future training (up to 120 days out), review the company’s Mission Essential Task List (METL), and to discuss any open issues or concerns.
Most Army companies combine the company training meeting with a command and staff meeting, which reviews administration, maintenance, personnel, and supply issues. In most cases, units conduct one meeting first and immediately follow it with the other.
Your goal as the Company Commander is to have an effective and efficient company training meeting. You don’t want an unproductive meeting. You don’t want to be unorganized and waste people’s time. The secret to success is preparation.
Typically, I spent 2-4 hours (at least), before the meeting, getting prepared. This helped me keep all meetings less than one hour. You should consider doing the same thing. Here are some tips you can follow to set yourself up for success.
1. Draft an Agenda
Create an agenda ahead of time to identify all requirements. This will keep you focused. Once you have an agenda that works well, use it every meeting.
Invest a few hours of your time and prepare. You can accomplish this the day of the meeting by setting aside a few hours and reviewing your training requirements. Get a copy of this month’s OPORD, last month’s After-Action-Review (AAR) and get a copy of the YTC and training schedules.
3. Notify Personnel Ahead of Time
Since most of your key leaders have civilian jobs, contact them as soon as possible. If possible, have the meeting at the same time and location every month. For instance, your meeting could be held on the Tuesday before drill weekend. Just make sure you have your meeting AFTER you have the Battalion meeting.
4. Assign a Timer
Either use your own watch or let someone else be the designated timer. Give each part of your agenda a time limit. Have the person raise his hand, nudge you, or get your attention when you reach the time limit for each section.
5. Assign a Scribe
Assign someone as a scribe to keep notes. Have a dry erase board or butcher block paper available to address issues. At the end of the meeting, review the butcher block or dry erase board and prioritize the issues. Assign who is responsible for each issue and when the issue must be resolved by.
6. Start On Time
Always start on time, even if some attendees are late. This lets your followers know that you are serious and efficient. If you don’t start on time, people won’t take you seriously. By the way, starting on time means starting the second you are supposed to, not a second later.
7. Finish in One Hour or Less
Some people will disagree with what I’m about to say, but oh well. You should always keep your meetings to one hour or less. I’ve sat in some meeting marathons that lasted five or more hours. These meetings were always ineffective and unproductive. If for some reason your meeting must go for more than an hour, make it two separate meetings and two different times.
Keep in mind, people have short attention spans. You can only sit still so long and remember everything.
8. Keep Sidebar to a Minimum
Don’t let people rant on about things that are not important. Some people are naturally long winded. Don’t let people ramble on and take ten minutes to say something that could be said in 10 seconds. As the facilitator, it’s your responsibility to squash the sidebar. More importantly, don’t talk just to hear yourself talk.
Company training meetings are the center of gravity of unit training management. During these weekly meetings, company leaders synchronize and coordinate their training efforts in support of the commander’s ATG. Training and only training is discussed to maintain focus, direction and purpose. ~ U.S. Army
Training Meeting Agenda
To have an efficient and effective meeting, you must have an agenda. The agenda serves as a helpful resource to identify the purpose of the meeting and to determine what we be reviewed during the meeting.
Listed below is a copy of the agenda I used for my company training meetings during my time in command. I hope you find it helpful.
1. Review Last Month’s Training
You should open up the meeting by discussing last month’s training events. Cover the After-Action-Review and get input from your First Sergeant, Executive Officer, Platoon Leaders, and Platoon Sergeants. Find out what went right, what went wrong and identify lessons learned. Keep this portion of the training meeting to 10 minutes or less.
2. Review Future Training
Briefly discuss upcoming training events that are 120, 90, 60, and 30 days out respectively. Identify resourcing requirements, training areas, food, ammunition, transportation requests, etc. Briefly cover 120 and 90 days out, but go into extensive detail about 30 and 60 days out.
Finally, review the short-term training (this month’s drill). Cover the OPORD and get back briefs from each Platoon. Keep this part of the meeting at 30-40 minutes.
3. Mission Essential Task Listing (METL) Review
Once you’ve covered the upcoming training events, share your METL assessment with your platoons. Cover each METL tasks and let your leaders know your commander’s assessment. Also, get updates from each Platoon Leader about where they stand with their Platoon METL assessment. Keep this portion of the meeting to 10 minutes or less.
4. Questions & Comments
Once you’ve covered last month’s training, upcoming training and reviewed the METL assessment, spend the last 5-10 minutes answering questions and seeking input from your key leaders. If you follow this agenda, you will keep your company training meetings at one hour or less.
During my two years in command, I only had one company training meeting longer than 60 minutes. That meeting went 62 minutes. What I’m trying to tell you is that this agenda works well, when you use it.
In the military, meetings are a routine matter. However, efficient and effective meetings are few and far between.
As a Company Commander, you should run effective company training meetings that have a specific purpose and are held on time and to standard. Your secret to success is preparation and discipline. Never have a meeting just to have a meeting. When you do have a meeting, be efficient and effective and do not waste people’s time.
If you have any questions, or possibly some added tips about Army company training meetings, please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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