As a Company Commander, Readiness NCO or First Sergeant in the Army National Guard, one of your most important and “VISIBLE” reports is your NOVAL Pay Report, often referred to as the Non-Val or No-Validated Pay Report. This report identifies a list of Soldiers who failed to attend training and have not been paid in the past 90 days. At the time of this writing, the standard is 2% or less. In other words, if your unit has 100 soldiers assigned to it, your goal is to have no more than 2 of those 100 Soldiers appear on the report.
During my time in Company Command, my unit averaged between 0% and 1% on our NOVAL Pay Report. I can tell you right now that this did not happen by accident. The only reason we kept our report low is because keeping it low was a top priority. We had a game-plan and were very active throughout the process. I’d like to share some tips on what we did to achieve that. Here are some of my best tips.
1. Express the importance of attending drill to all your Soldiers. Talk to soldiers during drill weekend, in formations, during classes, etc. Post policy letters on the bulletin board concerning your position on drill attendance.
2. Ensure everyone has a training calendar and training schedule. Have your subordinate leaders call their Soldiers before drill to remind them about the upcoming training.
3. When a Soldier misses drill weekend, make sure they make up the training within 30 days. Be flexible, when possible and let the Soldier come in on an alternate weekend or during the week. This isn’t the most desired course of action, but it’s better than having someone show up on the NO-VAL Pay Report.
4. Always provide tough and realistic training so Soldiers WANT to come to drill. When possible get your unit out of the armory and go to the field or an alternate training location. Make drill weekend tough, fun, challenging and memorable. No one joined the National Guard to sit around the armory all weekend.
5. Reward and praise Soldiers who come to drill, show up on time, work hard and have a good attitude.
6. Hold Soldiers accountable who frequently miss drill. Consider options such as discharges, separations, demotions, recoup bonuses and pay, recoup Tuition Assistance, etc. Make sure your Soldiers know that if they fail to meet the Army standards, you will hold them personally accountable for their actions. This is without a doubt the most effective thing you can do.
7. Implement an effective counseling program. Make sure you are counseling your direct reports. And make sure ALL of your subordinates are counseling their subordinates. Make sure every counseling packet discusses your attendance policy and that the expectations are clearly identified in writing.
8. Post a Command Memo discussing your “position” concerning drill attendance and No Val Pay and post it on the unit bulletin board. Give each Soldier a copy and conduct a quick briefing on the topic during formation.
These are some things I did to help keep attendance high and keep our NOVAL Pay low (below the 2% standard). These tips worked for me and I know they will work for you too.
As a Company Commander or small unit leader, you must actively manage your NOVAL Pay Report. The best way to do that is to (1) provide good training, (2) inform your Soldiers of your expectation and policies concerning drill attendance and (3) hold people accountable for not meeting the attendance standards. I’ve found that most Soldiers want to do the right thing. But you will always have a couple of knuckle heads who challenge the status quo. Don’t let your couple of bad apples get you in trouble. Be proactive and hold them accountable.
What are your thoughts on the NOVAL pay report? What have you done to keep your report low, or is it high? We value your comments or questions, so please post them below.