What National Guard and USAR Leaders Should Do Outside of Drill Weekend

Whether you are an Officer or NCO, you can’t do your job as a leader JUST during drill weekend.  It’s impossible.  Part of your job as a National Guard or Army Reserve leader requires you to work outside of drill weekend, and in most cases without compensation.  Once again, that just comes with the job.

Depending upon your duty position, this could range from 1-2 hours a week to 10-20 hours per week, or more.  As a M-Day Company Commander I often worked 15-20 hours per WEEK outside of drill weekend to ensure my unit was prepared for success.   Without putting in that extra time I wouldn’t have been able to really do my job effectively.  It did consume my life at times, and even created some family issues, but I knew when I accepted the job that it would be demanding.

People ask me all the time “what things should I focus on outside of drill weekend” to be an effective National Guard or Army Reserve leader?  My goal today is to answer that question and give you some valuable insights.  I want to share seven things you should do outside of drill weekend, so your unit is prepared for training during drill weekend.

# 1 Write OPORDs – Whether you are an Officer or NCO, you should have a written OPORD for your section.  The Company Commander writes the first one, followed by the Platoon Leaders, and each Squad Leader and Team Leader should have one of their own too.  I’d argue that if you don’t have your own OPORD for your section you are NOT doing your job right.

# 2 Check In with the AGR Staff – If you are a Company Commander, 1SG, XO, Platoon Leader or Platoon Sergeant, you should check in with the AGR Staff at your unit once a week.  Give them a quick call or email to find out about anything coming down the pipe that might effect you or your Soldiers.

# 3 Communicate with Direct Reports and Boss – You should communicate with your direct reports and boss once a week, minimum.  This could be a quick email where you forward information or send your questions/answers as needed.

# 4 Check, Inspect and Stage Equipment – You need to visit the armory prior to drill weekend to make sure that all equipment that will be used during training is inspected, working properly and staged.  I recommend you do this a week before drill weekend so you have enough time to fix any problems that you find.

# 5 Site Recons – If you have training away from the armory you might want to do a site recon to be better prepared.  I know this won’t apply to every leader in the unit, but when it applies to you, make sure it gets done.

# 6 Meetings – You should have some type of training/staff meeting with your direct reports and section.  With technology like SKYPE and Google Hangout this is really easy to do. Doing your training meeting during drill weekend is unacceptable (my opinion). Your job is to push out information and answer any questions your followers might have.

# 7 Paperwork – Awards, evaluation reports, reports and other paperwork should be done outside of drill weekend, if possible, so you can focus on scheduled training during drill weekend.

Please keep in mind that these tasks might vary slightly based upon your duty position and unit.  I think the best thing you can do is come up with some sort of schedule or routine that you can follow every week, and stick to it.

The bottom line is that you need to be proactive and prepared.  There is a big difference between being a Soldier and being a leader.  There is nothing I can stand more than an officer or NCO who just shows up for drill weekend without doing any of these things ahead of time.  You owe it to your troops to be prepared and provide tough, realistic training.  And remember, your job as a leader doesn’t end after drill weekend.  If anything, that’s when it starts!

What are your thoughts on this subject?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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12 thoughts on “What National Guard and USAR Leaders Should Do Outside of Drill Weekend”

  1. I am a new leader and still a little unsure of what my task at hand is, due to the fact that my position is entitled Assistant Personnel Officer. When I do attend drill I am always proactive about helping where help is needed and assisting soldiers with their jobs. So I can gain the understanding of what they have to do. I just don’t like to sit around but at the same notion, honestly I feel like I have nothing to do within my job description because everything is done once I arrive due to the fact I am an M-Day leader and holding the title Assistant. So in your opinion, what would you suggest I can do to become more involve with my AOC.

    1. Kathy,

      Your primary job is to assist the S1 Officer. I HIGHLY suggest you ask them to sit down with you and explain what they see your duties as. This should clarify what you “should” be doing during drill weekend and make your job a lot better. If they aren’t willing to do that the BEST thing you can do is be a servant leader and VISIT each one of the units that you support. Find out what they are struggling with and need help or assistance with, and then help them succeed. That’s a lot better than sitting around in your office waiting for something good to happen.

      Just my two cents.

      Chuck

  2. A good leader will use drill weekend as a springboard to start preparing. Taking notes on soldiers’ performance, progress. What needs to be improved, who’s performing up to par and who isn’t. When your squad sees that you are prepared, they will take drill weekend more seriously themselves and use their time outside of drill weekend to get ready to show and prove.

  3. In one of your comments Chuck, you mention time management. If a person plans with calender and uses goals and objectives, all the things that need to be done can be done.

    I am a strong believer in delegating responsibility also. Some of the tasks that need to be handled can be passed down to a soldier looking for promotion and is trustworthy.

    Great post Chuck. You are correct, every leader needs to read this.

  4. Great Article Chuck. Served as a reminder and check list where we can focus outside IDT’s. But Chuck, I’m curious how you do it? I can barely handle my job and Unit. I find myself at times irritated with my family; esp. at times when they expect more of me. I catch myself and remember your CO course some of the tips you mentioned on time management. I guess the real question is where does your “Drive” come from?
    You are a true inspiration because of what you have done for us with your website and programs.
    What keeps you going?
    What is it that motivates you to work late at nights to respond immediately to posts?
    How do you emotionally balance your family, your business and still help your Brother’s in arms at the same time.
    I know time management helps, I bought your program, it was great!, but I at times, feel that the tactics / application is only half the battle. Procrastination is the other half.
    How do we combat that?
    Do you ever feel like hanging it up and going to work for someone?
    Thanks for all you have done for the Part – Time Military leaders

    1. How do I it? I have a big vision, strong work ethic and persistence. I am naturally a doer and like a challenge.

      When it comes to being productive and successful, I have life-long, five-year, one-year, monthly, weekly and daily written goals that are prioritized and carried in my goals book with me at all times. My goals are what really separates me from my peers. Written goals are very powerful. Most people understand that, but less than 1% of the population actually does it.

      What keeps me going with my website and books is my vision for what it will become in the next few years. I have a 10 year plan and am on year four right now. I also really enjoy giving back and helping others (military, direct sales folks, and entrepreneurs). Eventually, all of my websites will be maintained by other people and my websites will fund my world-wide travel to go treasure hunting and mining for gold.

      This website is only one of my three BIG websites that I own and maintain, so I have to juggle between the three, plus my large eBay business, speaking, consulting, and writing books.

      Do I ever feel like quitting? Nope. I couldn’t imagine selling myself to the highest bidder in the form of a job. I could earn a nice, comfortable income, but I would be the unhappiest person alive if I had a job. I may not have the biggest income in the world at this time (not even close), but I have more time freedom than ANYONE I know, including most millionaires. And I like that.

      When it comes to managing time with the family (wife), it’s pretty easy. We both work from home all day and spend most days together. For people who have day jobs and are apart from their spouse, you simply need to block off periods of time where you can spend quality time together. Set aside 30-60 minutes a day where you can sit down with your spouse and talk, chat, have fun, play a board game, etc. Turn off the TV and just spend time together. That alone could fix most relationships.

      I’m glad you enjoy my website and courses. I appreciate the comment and kind words. Thanks for your service, too.

      Best Regards,
      Chuck

      1. Chuck, you writing your goals down into big, down to small and manageable increments is a great tip. You should write an article sometime on goal setting. I think a lot of people don’t really know how to effectively set goals and manage them. It’s easy to get too overwhelmed.

  5. What a great article, Chuck…seriously one of the best. I try to emphasize to my peers all the time that they make more money as an Officer and senior NCO because we are expected to do more work! Think about it…you have a MUTA 6, which is equivalent of 6 days of Active Duty pay for working 3! Best believe that you should taking the time to write OPORDs, check in with AGR personnel, etc. No excuse for not always being on top of everything!

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