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.