Army Quarterly Counseling Tips

Today, I want to share some of my best Army Quarterly Counseling Tips with you.  As a leader, you are required to conduct a quarterly counseling with anyone you supervise who is a NCO or Officer.  This counseling should be done face-to-face and summarized in writing.  While I bet that fewer than 2% of all Army leaders actually do this (it might be even less than that) you should still make it happen.  Here are a few tips to help you succeed.

Tip # 1: Get Organized

The first thing you need to do is get organized.  You should create a counseling packet for each person you rate.  Add in all the important documents and keep it updated in a central location.  Make sure you have their previous counseling statements, evaluation reports, 2-1, and other important documents.

Tip # 2: Educate Yourself

Your next step is to educate yourself about Army Counseling.  If you don’t have a lot of experience counseling others, there are plenty of manuals, regulations and resources you can refer to.  You can also get input from your boss or from a trusted peer.  You don’t need to be an expert, but you should have basic fundamental knowledge about how to counsel and mentor others.

Tip # 3: Schedule It

Your quarterly counseling session won’t happen by accident.  If you look at any unit’s training schedule, there isn’t any time allocated for counseling.  You have to get out your day planner and schedule it in.  Get with the other person (the person you rate) ahead of time to make sure they don’t have any major assignments or duties that will interfere with the counseling.  Set a good time that works for both of you.

Tip # 4: Get Feedback Every Month from Subordinates!

My next tip is to get feedback from your direct reports/subordinates every month.  Have them hand you a summary of everything they accomplished during drill weekend.  Have them do that every month.  Before they leave to go home from drill weekend, make sure you have that document in your hand.  Add it to their counseling packet and consolidate the information before the quarterly counseling session.

Tip # 5: Utilize the OER/NCOER Support Form

You should utilize the support forms as much as possible, especially for your NCOs.  In essence, you should be writing their evaluation report as you go.  Every time you do your counseling you should update the documents.  If you keep doing that, the evaluation report will already be written at the end of the rating period.

Tip # 6: Just Do It!

My last tip is to “just do it!”  At the end of the day, I’d bet that less than 2% of the USAR and ARNG leaders actually do their initial counseling and quarterly counseling with their subordinates. It’s sad, but true.  You need to be part of the 2%.  Stop making excuses, be the leader you should be, and make it happen.  Even if you mess up and don’t do everything perfectly, at least you can say you did the right thing and counseled your subordinates like you were supposed to.  Besides, the counseling isn’t for you.  It’s to help your subordinates become better leaders.

Final Thoughts

The Army quarterly counseling process isn’t hard or difficult.  As a leader, you simply need to MAKE the time to make it happen.  It definitely won’t happen by accident.  By following the six tips I just mentioned, you should be well on your way to knocking out your quarterly counseling the right way.

What are your thoughts?  What are your best tips for doing your quarterly counseling with your subordinates?  Leave a comment and let us know.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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14 thoughts on “Army Quarterly Counseling Tips”

  1. You organized good points here. Most all of us could be more organized, but it’s critical for a leader.

    I would say listening would be the most important skill here. Ask certain questions, and then listen.

  2. Candace Ginestar

    It’s sad, but the last tip is so applicable. It doesn’t take a ton of time to do a good counseling. However, people rarely do it. It’s sad but true.

  3. From reading your posts about leadership in the Army it has become apparent that Army leaders have a lot on their plate when it comes to evaluating or simply performing quarterly counseling, which seems to be an extensive process. Being organized, scheduling and just getting it done sounds easy enough, but when you have other duties and people to manage and lead I am sure that this can become quite the daunting task. Thank you for being such a great leader to your fellow Army men, it is evident and shows in all of your postings that you make on this website.

    1. Counseling and leader development are two of the most important duties of an Army leader, yet they frequently neglect it. It is straight up sad. Ask any 100 Army leaders and I’d bet that at least 90 of them did not get any kind of formal quarterly counseling in writing.

      1. I personally have not had any formal counseling, but as I started moving up the ranks I realized that I had no idea what my leaders expected of me or of how I was performing. I vowed to not let this happen to any of the Soldiers I supervise. It was not easy and I have spent a lot of time on sites like this one, but the bottom line is to get it done. Not because it’s what you are supposed to do, but because you are a leader and you owe it to your subordinates to develop good leaders and let them know what they can improve on and what is already working great for them.

      2. So im a 14yr sgt who hasnt been counseled in in the last 2 yrs. Now i am being rcp for being on profile for 2 yrs. My mos just recently became a star mos an i made the cutoff for automatic promotion but my commander also flagged me because my knee surgery and profile.

  4. Faith A. Coleman

    As I was reading I thought how great to have the process so clearly defined and simplified. So many people, even leaders, just hate the whole process, have a hard time coming up with words, have an even harder time criticizing, even constructively, when it goes down in a permanent record; too many people want to be liked more than they want to criticize and that does everyone a disservice. I noticed that myself when I had closer ties to the Army and issues of unacceptable performance came up, many were overlooked or trivialized. It’s the officer’s duty, though, to do the right thing even when it’s unpleasant.

    1. I’ve found it’s much easier to deal with issues at counseling time than at evaluation time. If you deal with things the right way, and document everything, you will have a paper trail that supports your write up. More importantly, when you do a negative counseling you give the person a chance to correct their behavior and improve. I think this is the best way to do things.

  5. I’ve advised my NCOs to use their initial counseling as a template. That counseling specifies the leader’s expectations for the counselee, and if it’s properly written it will be comprehensive. My advice is to take those expectations and note how specific acts throughout the quarter have met, exceeded, or failed to meet them. A handy way to do this–aside from the self-evaluations mentioned, which are tremendously helpful–is to keep a set of index cards or a section of your leader book and take note of specific events that will be relevant for that quarter’s counseling. From there constructing the counseling statement is fairly straightforward.

  6. Your various leadership posts really show the diversity of activities that go into fulfilling the duties of your role. This is more than just a day-job, it’s a constant dedication to what’s best for your team, which just happens to include scheduling time to follow up on counseling and paperwork. Can’t drive tanks and jump from planes all the time, I guess! Thanks for showing us the many sides of leadership that make our military so great!

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