Top 3 Platoon Leader Tips for NCO Counseling

I take NCOERs and NCO counseling very seriously.  Why, you may ask? As an Officer, I feel like it is my top priority to ensure that the accomplishments and achievements of my NCOs do not go unnoticed.  After all, NCOs are the backbone of the Army and I am the first to admit that having good NCOs can make your job very easy, or extremely difficult.  Make sure you do right by them and develop them and recognize their achievements.  The easiest way to do so is through counseling.  Here are my top three tips for ensuring that your NCOs get the most out of the counseling process.

#1. Use an NCOER Tracker: I am fortunate to have been an NCO myself, but if you were not enlisted prior to becoming an Officer one tip for success is to listen to your NCOs.  They are full of great tips and experience.  One thing that I learned from my Readiness NCO was the benefits of using an NCOER Tracker.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, a spreadsheet, your Outlook Calendar or even iCal.  Personally, I use my iCal and input the date when each of my NCOERs are due.  Then, I subtract a month from that date.  This way, I am NEVER late in submitting an NCOER.  Not only is this benefiting the Soldier, but it makes you look stellar.  Additionally, I add in the dates I wish to conduct quarterly NCO Counselings (i.e. every 3 months).  This way, it is in my calendar and it gets done!

#2. Counsel your NCOs Every Quarter:  At the beginning of the TY (training year) I give each and every single Soldier an initial counseling.  This is my “base date” or starting point.  We discuss expectations, duties & responsibilities and their goals for the year.  Then, as the TY advances, every 3 months I hold a formal NCO Counseling using the NCOER Support Form (DA Form 2166-8-1).  The main benefit of this exercise is the fact that when it comes time to write their NCOER, it has already written itself.  I will simply pull out the quarterly counseling statements from my Leader’s Book and use them to write their NCOER.  Additionally, this practice helps you keep better record of accomplishments.  Think about how much happens in one year.  It is often hard for people to recall achievements over the course of a year.  3 months is a little more reasonable and ensures every accomplishment gets recorded and recognized.

#3. Follow-Up: It is one thing to do the proper counseling, it is another to actually use it as a development tool!  I make it a fundamental point to always have previous counseling statements on hand during my counseling sessions.  They are a good reference and hold Soldiers accountable.  Don’t just conduct a counseling and then throw it in your Leader’s Book, USE IT!  For example, when I conduct my annual Initial Counseling with each of my Soldiers, I pull out their form from last year.  We review what goals they set last year, what they have or failed to accomplish and actually discuss steps to ensure they meet these goals and responsibilities.  What I have found is that you Soldiers are often their worst critic.  If they see on paper that they have set a goal and failed to reach it, it motivates them to achieve success.  They tend to hold themselves accountable, all you really have to do is help them develop that approach to achieving the goal!

FINAL THOUGHTS: I often sound like I am beating a dead horse, but if you do not schedule time, things will NOT get done.  Same is true for counseling.  Make it a routine.  Make sure your Soldiers and NCOs understand your expectations when it comes to counseling.  They may start out resistant, much like mine did, but it is now SOP and every Sunday at the conclusion of drill they know it is time for counseling.  I promise, you will see the positive, developmental results of taking the time to counsel your NCOs!

Do you have any questions? Just ask below. Thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “Top 3 Platoon Leader Tips for NCO Counseling”

  1. I agree, Chuck. I think most leaders view counseling as just another thing that they have to do in addition to their technical job… It really isn’t so. Actually, I would argue that these duties often times come first and foremost…as a LEADER. Your job is to take care of your Soldiers and develop them. That’s what leadership is all about… It also sometimes means doing 100 things on top of the 1,000,000 you are already doing! The difference between a good leader and a bad leader, I think, is who can take those extra 100 things and figure out a way to do them and invent better ways to be efficient (i.e. NCOER Tracker…)

    1. Candace Ginestar

      Justin, great points. Figuring out a way to be more efficient, which might take initially more effort, will save you in the long run, and help keep you on top of your game. Anything that is for the individual Soldier should be our priority.

  2. Justin,

    You offer some great tips for the NCO Counseling. I like the idea of using a NCOER tracker for all of your NCOs. This is a great way to keep track of when everyone’s NCOER is due.

    I think your point about follow up is equally as important. In business, we say the money is in the follow up. I believe the same holds true with counseling. If you never follow up, you won’t have anywhere near the effectiveness you will if you do follow up.


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