How to Effectively Work With Your Officer or NCO Counterpart

In today’s post, I would simply like to take a moment and CLARIFY the role of the Officer and the NCO.  My goal is to help you develop a harmonious and EFFECTIVE relationship with your officer or NCO counterpart, so you can get the job done (and have fun doing it)!

Now, I know you might be thinking that the role of the officer and the NCO should be common sense (and I agree), but if you visit a bunch of different armories across the USA, you will quickly discover that BOTH officers and NCOs really mess this up.

Not all of the time, of course.  But most of the time.

And I think that’s because very few people have EVER been TAUGHT what the officer is really supposed to do and what the NCO is really supposed to do.

What I want to do is help fix that problem.  Whether you are an officer or NCO, I hope you will read this article and then share it with your officer or NCO counterpart.  Maybe you can have a man to man, woman to woman, or woman to man conversation.

Not only will the information help you succeed, but it will also help your counterpart AND it will improve the working relationship the two of you have.  Who wouldn’t want that?


Advice for Officers

First off, if you are an Officer, this is what you should be focusing 90% of your time on:

  • Collective Training
  • Mission Planning & Planning Future Training
  • Writing OPORD’s, Risk Assessments and MDMP/TLP
  • Developing Your Subordinate Officers
  • Establish Policies and Procedures
  • Leading Meetings

*** The other 10% of your time is for putting out fires.

Remember this one key point: Your primary job is FUTURE OPS.  You are the planner!

If there is ever an ISSUE about ANYTHING that is in the FUTURE 30, 60, 90, or 120 days (or more) out, it’s more than likely your lane.

Also, keep in mind that MOST of your job responsibilities will be done outside of drill weekend! During drill weekend you shouldn’t be that busy at all, other than assessing the training and spot checking your NCOs.


Advice for NCOs

If you are a NCO, this is what you should be focusing 90% of your time on:

  • Individual Training
  • Soldier Morale and Discipline
  • Health and Welfare
  • Mentoring and Developing Soldiers
  • EXECUTING Missions

*** The other 10% of your time is for putting out fires.

Remember this one key point: Your job is CURRENT OPS.  You are the doer!

If there is ever an ISSUE with something during drill weekend, it’s probably YOUR LANE.  Drill weekend is where you get the chance to shine and showcase your skills.  Yes, you will have some duties outside of drill weekend, but drill weekend is where the rubber meets the road for most NCOs.


Summing It Up

Remember this, Officers plan and NCOs execute. That is the easiest way to explain the difference between an Officer and NCO.  From a National Guard perspective, Officers should focus on the next 30, 60, 90 and 120 days out. On the other hand, NCOs should execute those plans and handle the tasks at hand TODAY. Does that make sense?

If you are an NCO spending most of your time planning, you’re not doing your job (neither is your Officer).  And if you are an Officer spending most of your time executing tasks, you’re not doing your job (neither is your NCO).

Of course, there will be times when something is in a “gray area” and you are not sure who is responsible for the task.   When that happens, the two of you should have short conversation and figure out who is responsible to fix it.

The bottom line is to know your LANE and stay in your LANE.


My Advice to You

My advice to you is to have a conversation with your NCO or officer about this.  Spend some time and clearly DEFINE who is responsible for what.  Write everything that you do down on a butcher block or dry erase board, and then put one of your names next to each task.  That way, whenever something comes up, you know who is responsible for it.

Without a doubt the biggest reason the officer and NCO relationship goes bad is because of undefined roles and expectations on both the officer and NCO’s part.  Now, you don’t have an excuse to let that happen!

What are your thoughts about this advice?  Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

5 thoughts on “How to Effectively Work With Your Officer or NCO Counterpart”

  1. The most important part of this whole post, the way I see it, is communication. This post was made in an attempt to bring the Officer and NCO together to communicate. There may be discrepancies, but if there is communication, it can be worked out.

    This was a great post. I hope it is shared and used.

    1. Communication is definitely very important. If the two folks are always talking and listening to each other, they can probably work through most of their problems.

      1. I think it is also very important that officers allow the NCOs to do their job. I have heard of those times when “micro-managing” comes into play. If each will do their job to the best of their ability, all will work smoothly. If the NCO is not holding up their responsibilities, that is when the officer should call them in for a one on one discussion. It would be good if every officer and NCO read this post.

  2. I see two limits to this advice. First is the kind of unit you’re in. If you’re in a combat arms unit that sets its own training schedule, then yes, this applies. Second, if you’re in a line unit, then yes, it applies.

    However, I’m in a battalion staff section in a CSSB. Our support missions are our highest priority, but the last things we hear about. It’s sometime impossible to plan more than 30 days out because our brigade doesn’t even know what we need to do.

    And by being in a small shop, redundancy is key. Between the OIC and NCOIC, you’ll have at least 1 out of 6 days during the calendar year when someone important is out of the office.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      This is definitely true for any combat support. Even at the FSC level, we don’t always know what will happen the next month. We still plan for contingency training, and then realize that our plans may get scrapped if we get a mission. We also try to improve efficiency each time the last minute missions happen, this is a great exercise.

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