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The Mentor - A Comprehensive Guide to Army Counseling and Leadership

What does an initial NCOER counseling cover?

I am a new rater and will begin counseling my subordinates next week. Do you have any guidance on what my initial counseling should look like?

The Evaluator - Army Evaluation & Counseling Guide

The initial counseling will be conducted within the first 30 days of the rating period, and will be recorded on the support form and typically will also include a DA FORM 4856 (counseling statement) or a Memorandum to the rated Soldier as an initial counseling is a rather comprehensive counseling session and cannot fit on the support form.  If additional space is needed enter the following statement on the support form  “See attached counseling statement dated XXXX”

The initial counseling will be a face to face counseling (some exceptions apply in rare cases). It will be somewhat different than the later counseling sessions.  The primary function of the initial counseling process is to communicate performance standards to the rated Soldier and let them know what is expected of them.  This session will also develop an adequate duty description, responsibilities, and performance objectives. The rated Soldier should be encouraged to provide input into the development of the duty description.  The rated Soldier should also be provided a copy of the rating scheme.

Quarterly or later counseling sessions will focus on informing the Soldier how well they are doing. Are they meeting the established performance standards? The duty description and performance objectives should be updated as required during these sessions.

It is also important to realize that the best counseling is forward-focused.  Discuss the past and document it as appropriate and then move on to future requirements. The goal is to prime the Soldier for the future, leveraging their past experience.

The following are extracts concerning initial counseling that should or will be covered during the initial counseling process.

AR 623-3

1-8e. Counseling. Initial. counseling will be conducted within 30 days after the beginning of the rating period, and quarterly thereafter, for NCOs, WO1s, chief warrant officers two (CW2s), lieutenants (LTs) (includes first lieutenants (1LTs) and second lieutenants (2LTs)), and captains (CPTs). Counseling for all other grades will be on an as-needed basis. It aids in developing a duty description for the Soldier and identifying major performance objectives to accomplish during the rating period. Counseling will also be used to guide the rated Soldier’s performance during the
early part of the rating period. Use of the appropriate support form for grades WO1 through colonel (COL) and NCOs is mandatory and required in conjunction with counseling.


AR 623-3

3–5. Army performance objectives and special interest items Army performance objectives have been identified at the highest levels of the Army as areas of special interest
regarding officer and NCO leaders Armywide.

a. Rated Soldiers will include this information in the development of support forms or counseling documents.

b. When applicable, rating officials will include rated Soldier performance related to these special interest items in their overall assessment on the evaluation report. Additionally, AR 600–20 provides policy for when items will be mentioned in a Soldier’s evaluation report when substantiated by a completed command or other official investigation (for example, CDR’s or Commandant’s Inquiry, AR 15–6 investigation, equal opportunity (EO) investigation, and/or investigations by official military or civil authorities).

(1) In accordance with applicable Army guidance, rating officials of Soldiers with substantiated issues or incidents regarding Army performance objectives and/or command special interest items during the rating period will include such information on evaluation reports. The items in paragraph 3–5b(2) and those mentioned in paragraphs 3–24 through 3–27 may be considered.

(2) Special interest items are not all inclusive. Comments related to safety, individual and unit deployment readiness, energy-informed actions (see para 3–5b(2)(k)), support of behavioral health goals, support of the EO and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Programs, and goals for fostering a climate of dignity and respect and supporting the SHARP Program will be included on all support forms. Special interest item topics are not expected to be reflected on subsequent OERs and NCOERs (except for those defined as being required), but they may be addressed when
evaluating the rated officer’s or NCO’s overall performance and potential. CDRs may establish their own special interest items and performance objectives.

(a) Safety. See AR 385–10. All officers and NCOs will have a safety-related objective or task developed as part of their counseling requirements.

(b) Individual and unit deployment readiness. All officers and NCOs will indicate a full understanding of their responsibility to maintain individual and unit deployment readiness as part of their counseling requirements. Leaders must be aware of the deployability status of their subordinates.

(c) Support of behavioral health goals. All officers and NCOs will discuss how their actions in handling Soldiers with behavioral health issues impact the command climate and overall unit performance as part of their initial counseling requirements. Leaders play a key role in decreasing stigma and promoting positive attitudes toward
behavioral health issues among subordinates.

(d) Internal evaluation systems. See AR 11–2.

(e) Contracting and acquisition. See DODI 5000.66.

(f) Information Security Program. See AR 380–5. The rating officials will consider and may evaluate the rated Soldier’s discharge of any assigned security responsibilities. Rating officials are to comment on any action, behavior, or condition that would constitute a reportable matter under Army security regulations and indicate if an appropriate evaluation report has been made.

(g) Natural resources management. See AR 200–1.

(h) Property accountability. See AR 735–5.

(i) Command inspections. See AR 1–201.

(j) Training. A leader’s execution of training on prevention of sexual harassment and/or avoidance of sexual misconduct will be included in counseling.

(k) Energy informed actions. See AR 420–1. All officers and NCOs will discuss responsibilities regarding energy and water impacts and potential conservation measures in all decisions with subordinates as part of their counseling requirements.

(l) Casualty assistance officer. See AR 638–8.

(m) Promoting a climate of dignity and respect and eliminating sexual harassment and sexual assault. All officers and NCOs will include objectives for fostering a climate of dignity and respect and eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment in their units on their support form.

(n) Equal opportunity and Equal Employment Opportunity Programs. All officers and NCOs will include and discuss objectives for supporting the EO and EEO Programs (see AR 600–20).

For a pre-formatted and comprehensive example of an initial counseling statement, check out Counsel Quick Volume 1.  or Rater Quick

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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