In today’s post, I’d like to educate you about the Platoon Sergeant initial counseling.
Most new Second Lieutenants are recent college graduates with no experience on how to do an Army Counseling the right way.
They’re greener than green!
As a result, most stumble through the counseling process with their Platoon Sergeant, or even worse, they don’t do it at all!
As a Platoon Leader, you owe it to your Platoon Sergeant to do their initial counseling with them in writing.
You owe it to them to tell them what you expect of them, even if you don’t have much experience or know what you are doing yet.
I believe it’s better to do one counseling wrong than not do one at all.
For the rest of this post, I’m going to give you some tips on how to do the Platoon Sergeant Initial Counseling the right way.
The primary purpose of counseling is to improve performance and to professionally develop the rated Soldier. A quality counseling session does not dwell solely on the past; it focuses on the future and what can be done better. It is the responsibility of leaders and Soldiers to work together to ensure goals are set and understood, observations are shared, credit for successes are documented, and recommendations for improvement are acknowledged. ~ Ford Hood Sentinel
Why It’s Important
The Platoon Sergeant initial counseling will have a huge impact on your working relationship with your Platoon Sergeant.
If you conduct the counseling like you are supposed to, and tell them what you expect of them, there’s a good chance the two of you will work well together.
And even if you don’t work well together, the Platoon Sergeant will still know what’s expected of them.
I personally believe that all supervisors have the responsibility to tell their direct reports what they expect of them.
After all, don’t you want to know what your boss expects of you?
When you first assume the responsibilities as a Platoon Leader, you must make it a top priority to schedule time to sit down with your Platoon Sergeant and conduct your Platoon Sergeant initial counseling.
You want to do this within 30 days of taking the job and preferably within the first week.
The purpose of the Platoon Sergeant initial counseling is to tell your Platoon Sergeant what you expect of him or her.
This includes performance expectations, professional expectations and personal expectations for both on and off duty.
The reason you must conduct the Platoon Sergeant initial counseling is to set your Platoon Sergeant, yourself and your platoon up for success right from day one.
You want them to know what right looks like and what will happen if they meet the standards or fail to meet the standards.
Even if they already know how to do their job (which they probably do) they still need to hear it from you!
Tips for Success
During the Platoon Sergeant initial counseling session, you can discuss your leadership style, performance expectations, the unit mission and anything else you deem important.
The secret to success is preparation.
You should spend at least four to six hours preparing for the Platoon Sergeant initial counseling.
This includes: completing your OER Support Form, updating your military biography, establishing platoon goals, preparing a first draft NCOER and preparing a NCOER Support Form.
If you have a decent relationship with your First Sergeant, you could also ask them for some help.
In addition, make sure you put everything in writing.
That way, your Platoon Sergeant knows you are serious.
Moreover, you will create a paper trail to support your NCOER bullets.
And remember, your Platoon Sergeant will do what you do.
If you do the initial counseling the right way, your Platoon Sergeant will probably do the same thing with their subordinate leaders.
Prior to the initial counseling session, you should find a place where you can have privacy and no distractions.
Turn off your cell phones and put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.
At the set time, have your Platoon Sergeant report to the room.
Follow these simple steps:
- Platoon Sergeant reports to designated room or training area
- Inform Platoon Sergeant of purpose of meeting
- Small talk for 10 minutes
- Have Platoon Sergeant talk about themselves, their family, experiences, goals, etc.
- Inform Platoon Sergeant about yourself, your family, experiences, goals, etc.
- Outline performance expectations for them
- Review the platoon goals, mission and task organization
- Review your OER Support Form
- Review platoon goals and brainstorm new goals
- Update first draft of NCOER Support Form
- Ask the Platoon Sergeant if they have questions and dismiss them
Remember to keep the meeting to one hour or less.
Once you complete the Platoon Sergeant initial counseling, continue to provide constant feedback to your Platoon Sergeant.
Make sure you conduct follow-up counseling in writing every 90-days.
That way, your Platoon Sergeant always knows where they stand with you.
Communication. Communicate about everything. The advice about sitting together is sound. As I got better, my PSG knew everything I was up to. What was my intent, what were my suspenses, where would I be if away from him, what I would want done if I had more time. The more I included my PSG (and SL’s), the better they were able to save me from myself. Fresh perspective, a re-evaluation of effective time-use, and a chance to explain my actions before the critics could deliver their versions of my actions to the platoon audience were all benefits I enjoyed. ~ CoCMD & PLT LDR via The Center of Junior Officers
You owe it to your Platoon Sergeant to tell them them what you expect of them.
You are responsible for their development, even though they have more military and life experience than you do.
If you don’t take time to conduct your Platoon Sergeant initial counseling, you’re not doing your job.
Therefore, make the time to do it.
You have no excuses.
Even if your Platoon Sergeant initial counseling doesn’t go perfectly, that’s okay.
Good enough is good enough.
As long as you take the time to prepare and follow the advice listed above, you will be well above your peers.
Most of your peers will never do this in writing with their Platoon Sergeant.
Best of all, you will be well on your way to developing a lasting professional relationship with your Platoon Sergeant.
As you gain more experience, you will get much better at doing the counseling!
Here’s one final thought.
Don’t be intimidated that your Platoon Sergeant is much older and more experienced than you are.
They understand the rank structure.
They know you are the supervisor.
And, they will respect you because of your rank as an Army Officer.
It’s the individual respect you have to earn.
You will start to earn their respect immediately, if you take the time to conduct an initial counseling with them.
Chances are, they’ve never “formally” received a written initial counseling from their supervisor before, EVER.
Most supervisors don’t do it, so you will show them you are a good leader just by doing it!
UPDATE: I’ve put together a sample Platoon Sergeant Initial Counseling Packet.
It gives you a 90% solution to do your counseling the right way.
All you need to do is add their name, rank and specific job description and you will be good to go.
My packet also provides some counseling tips and questions to ask.
You can buy it for just $20 and have it emailed to you instantly.
Click on the button below to buy it now.
Or, check out this link to see what is included.
Other Posts You Might Enjoy: