The purpose of the Army NCODP Program (Non Commissioned Officer Developmental Program) is to educate and develop Army NCOs for positions of greater responsibility. Typically, the program is managed by the senior enlisted Soldier in the unit (the First Sergeant or Sergeant’s Major). This person is responsible for planning the program; assigning instructors, choosing topics and making sure the NCODP Classes are scheduled, executed, conducted and assessed on time and to standard.
In the regular Army, the program is executed once a month whereas in the ARNG and USAR, it typically happens once a quarter (every 90 days). Sometimes the training is in a classroom environment. In other cases, the unit might conduct a site visit or conduct training in the field. In my experience, I’ve found that the best classes are out in the field away from the unit, where there are fewer distractions.
For many units, the program is nothing but a training requirement. Sure, the training takes place, but it very seldom goes “above and beyond” what is required. It simply isn’t a high priority in the unit.
On the other hand, some units have phenomenal NCODP Programs where leaders are developed and nurtured. The classes are entertaining, fun and educational. This happens because the person is charge takes pride and personal responsibility in the program and goes the extra mile to ensure the training is well prepared and well executed.
In the paragraphs below, I’d like to share some of my favorite tips with you so your unit can have an effective Army NCODP Program.
Tips for Success
Listed below are my best tips for success to have an effective Army NCODP Program.
# 1 Plan Training 12 Months Out – Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule your NCODP. Put some thought into it and give your instructors plenty of time to prepare. The more time you can give them, the better. Whenever you “wing it” the training won’t go very well.
# 2 Evaluate the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your NCOs to Find Ideas – If you’re looking for ideas for topics, spend a few minutes and list the weakness of each of your direct reports. That will give you some great training ideas.
# 3 Survey NCOs to find out what training they would find most beneficial – One of the best ways to come up with some creative ideas is simply to ASK your subordinates what topics they want to learn about. They will tell you.
# 4 When possible conduct training off site so they are fewer training distractions – I’ve found that when you stuff everyone in a classroom, and they have their cell phones, it’s easy to have distractions. People come in and interrupt the training, phones ring and it jus doesn’t go as smoothly as it should.
# 5 Assign different trainers each NCODP Class to mix things up and share the love – You don’t want the same person doing the training month-after-month. Mix things up and give everyone a chance to teach. This improves their skills and keeps things interesting at the same time.
# 6 Get maximum participation – Make the training MANDATORY for all NCOs. Don’t let your subordinates come up with reasons why they can’t attend. If you let them do that, you will have a lot of people come up with excuses and miss the training.
# 7 Schedule training during non-productive time – Make sure you are smart about scheduling your NCODP. Look for opportunities in the training calendar that DO NOT interfere with major training events.
NCODP Topics and Subjects
There are countless subjects you can use for your NCODP Program. Here are just a few examples:
- Retirement Planning – You could discuss how to save money for retirement
- Money Management – Topics such as budgeting, paying off debt, etc.
- Call for Fire – How to call in artillery support
- Counseling – How to do a negative counseling, professional development counseling, etc.
- Conflict Resolution – How to deal with difficult Soldiers
- Career Management – How to map out your military career
- Army Training Management – How the Army trains and the training process
- NCOERs – How to write NCOERs and what to look for on NCOERs
- Maintenance – Maintenance tips, policies and procedures
- Warrior Tasks – Go over the basic Warrior Tasks and do some drills
- OPORDs and Mission Planning – How to write OPORDS, conduct Troop Leading Procedures, etc.
- Book Report or a Book – Assign everyone a book to read and discuss it
Once again, you are only limited to your creativity. If you are stuck on ideas, try talking with a trusted peer or ask your subordinates what subjects they would find most beneficial.
The Army NCODP Program is not just a requirement. It’s also a very effective way to train your subordinate NCOs for positions of increased responsibility. When done effectively, it’s a wonderful way to learn new ideas, improve the unit’s camaraderie and improve morale. Your key to success is to have someone in charge of the program who takes pride in what they do, is proactive, and develops a solid plan to schedule, execute and assess the program in your unit.
On a side note, I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the Army NCODP Program? What subjects would you recommend? What tips could you recommend to unit leaders to improve their program? Just leave a comment to share your ideas. Thank you.