"Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)"
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 1. I’m not sure I understand how the new developmental counseling system aligns with the current Army policy on when and what type of counseling I should do? Response: The new counseling system is designed to cover all types of counseling. All counseling sessions can now be grouped under two categories, event-oriented and performance/professional growth. Event-oriented counseling involves a specific situation and/or event. It may precede events, such as going to a promotion board or attending a school; or it may follow events, such as a noteworthy duty performance, a problem with performance or mission accomplishment, or a personal problem. Performance counseling involves conducting a review of a subordinate's duty performance during a certain period - this counseling is usually tied to the OER or NCOER counseling requirements. Professional growth counseling includes planning for the accomplishment of individual and professional goals. This future-oriented counseling establishes short- and long-term goals and objectives. This counseling might look beyond the subordinate's current job and focus more towards future assignments, special programs and reenlistment options. The new counseling system easily facilitates the mandated counseling requirements found in some Army regulations. For example: Overweight: The plan of action format is a perfect outline for this type of counseling situation. Referring the soldier to agencies like the hospital dietician (which is a requirement) and using Appendix C of AR 600-9, Nutrition Guide to Weight Control Program are sources that can help you and the subordinate put together a plan of action for the soldier to follow. APFT Failure: This counseling is structured much like the overweight program, except as a leader you may have even more control over the situation and the outcome of the situation. In order to formulate the plan of action for this type of counseling, the leader may want to request the assistance of a master fitness trainer. Soldiers eligible for promotion, without waiver, but not recommended: This type of counseling is probably one of the most overlooked counseling sessions in the Army. The regulation is very clear on who, when and why this counseling is required. Army Regulation AR 600-8-19, Enlisted Promotions and Reductions dated 13 Sep 03, Para 1- 26 (a) states "Appropriate commander or his designee (such as the first senior NCO in the chain of command) will counsel soldiers who are eligible for promotion to PV2 through SSG without a waiver (fully qualified) but, not recommended in writing." Counseling will: (1) take place initially when the soldier attains eligibility, and www.armycounselingonline.com Page 1 of 5 Created by Mark Gerecht (2) periodically (at least every 3 months) and (3) include information as to why the soldier was not recommended and what can be done to correct deficiencies or qualities which lack promotion potential. 2. How does the new counseling system assist me in separating a soldier from the Army faster? Where do I annotate the 5 statements from AR 635-200, para 1- 18(b)(2)? Possible response: Developmental counseling does not equal separation. The primary purpose of developmental counseling is to develop subordinates who are able to achieve individual and organizational goals and prepare them for increased responsibilities, not to separate them from the Army. Developmental counseling can and will assist in getting soldiers back on the right track. By using the developmental plan of action and identifying the soldiers’ sub-standard performance the leader can outline what the soldier must do in order to recover from his/her weakness. But with all that said, let's talk about the soldier that is not responding to or not meeting the standards. Let's talk about the MAGIC statement. What is the MAGIC statement? It’s a short version of the requirement to notify a soldier that he/she could face separation from the service if he/she doesn’t start soldiering. Many senior NCO’s believe that the magic statement is a weak attempt to bring the soldier back into reality. Here's some excerpts from Army Regulation 635-200: Para 1-18 (a) states: " the commander is required to insure that adequate counseling and rehabilitative measures have been taken before initiating action to separate a soldier for one of the following reasons" (Chapters 5, 13 and 14 a and b). "Before initiating separation action there must be evidence that the soldier's deficiencies have continued after the initial formal counseling" (Change 15, AR 635-200 dtd 26 July 96). "The counseling will be conducted per paragraph 17-3 which states that the instruction will include a comprehensive explanation of the following: o The types of discharge certificates. (Note: the type of discharge certificate will vary depending of the type of chapter the soldier will be given.) o The basis for the issuance of each type of certificate. o The possible effects of the various certificates on reenlistment, civilian employment, veterans’ benefits and related matters. (Note: This is the hard www.armycounselingonline.com Page 2 of 5 Created by Mark Gerecht block. The leader needs to know what type of certificate/discharge the commander is going to recommend to the approving official. For example, if the soldier is going to get an other than honorable (OTH) discharge, the leader needs to know what the loss of benefits are (almost all). To help the leader during this process, DA published a poster entitled Benefits at Separation. This poster outlines the eligibility of benefits at separation along with the specific authority and references. Notifying a subordinate about the requirements outlined above is not really counseling - it’s a notification. Use the separation notification as a tool to impress upon the soldier how important it is that they change their behavior or that they would be separated from the service. If a soldiers knows he/she will lose all their education money and education benefits, they may change their unacceptable behavior. During the field testing for the Developmental Counseling Form, we found that the MAGIC statement is being used more often then needed. Telling a soldier too early or using the statement too much is like crying wolf. Use the MAGIC statement when all else starts to fail and then use it as a tool. Using the MAGIC statement for minor infractions is ineffective and weakens the effectiveness of the program. If the MAGIC statement is utilized, the leader can discuss it and annotate it in the Plan of Action portion of the counseling statement. 3. This counseling process and the new Developmental Counseling Form take away my ability to conduct directive, one-way counseling. Possible response: Disagree. Directive counseling is still discussed in the doctrine as an approach to counseling. The subordinate is still involved in a directive type counseling session - his/her involvement is just to a lesser degree. 4. "How do I use the Developmental Counseling Form to conduct directive, one- way counseling?" Possible response: Use this form just like you would use any counseling form. Remember though that even directive counseling should respect the soldier and his/her needs. Also keep in mind Developmental Counseling focuses on identifying the root cause of unsatisfactory performance. If this is due to a lack of knowledge or ability, you and the subordinate should develop a plan to improve the subordinate's skills. 5. "I don't have enough time during the duty day to accomplish all my current tasks, I don't need any additional counseling requirements." www.armycounselingonline.com Page 3 of 5 Created by Mark Gerecht Possible response: Subordinate leadership development is the most important responsibility every Army leader has. Nothing has a higher priority than developing the leaders who will follow in your footsteps (FM 22-100). In the beginning, the developmental counseling process might seem to take too much time. Practice, acceptance, and the subordinate's involvement in the process will make the process go quicker. The new Developmental Counseling Form outlines the counseling process from the new counseling doctrine. Using this form will assist leaders in remaining focused and covering all aspects of the counseling session. ** Note: Another Option that may assist you in reducing your administrative burden is to utilize a website known as Army Counseling Online. Website address: www.armycounselingonline.com 6. This approach emphasizes the subordinate's rights and/or input more than the leader's. It really weakens the leader's responsibilities and gives the subordinate too much latitude. Possible response: Disagree. The subordinate is encouraged to provide input but no where is it stated that the leader must always agree with the subordinate's input. This is especially true if the input is unreasonable, against unit or Army standards, or not in keeping with the leader's intent. The purpose of the subordinate providing input is so that the subordinate contributes to the solution. The subordinate is more apt to execute this plan - the earlier the leader obtains the subordinate's commitment to the plan, the greater chances that the plan of action will be executed to the standard agreed upon. 7. Not another new form! Possible response: Remember, what is discussed during the counseling session is what's important. What the counseling is recorded on doesn’t really matter. Counseling can be recorded on regular paper, a cardboard box or anything you want to use. The critical piece of counseling is the content of the session. Soldiers deserve to know what your expectations are, i.e. what does the soldier need to do to become a better soldier or what is the soldier doing wrong and how can he/she correct the problem. Detailed counseling is the best way for the soldier to understand the problem and how to recover from it. During the field testing, a vast majority of the junior NCO's really liked the new counseling form. They said it greatly assisted in keeping the counseling session focused and ensured that they hit all the right phases of the counseling session. They said that it was a good tool for someone who was a little rusty on their counseling skills and/or a new leader who was just starting to conduct counseling sessions. 8. What happens when the soldier does not concur with the counseling statement and/or refuses to sign in the session closing block? www.armycounselingonline.com Page 4 of 5 Created by Mark Gerecht Possible response: During the closing session he/she should indicate that they disagree and say why. It should not be hard to get the soldier to put his/her remarks in the closing space provided. If they refuse to sign in the closing space then just indicate "Refuses to sign." 9. How come the assessment block, Part IV, is at the end of the form? Possible response: This is where the leader places his/her comments on whether the counseling achieved the desired results and whether or not the soldier took action to improve or correct any of the reasons for the counseling. This is the actual closure to the counseling session. The real issue here is that leaders must utilize this portion of the counseling form. Many leaders fail to come back and assess the counseling and provide feedback to the subordinate. 10. This is not the way I was counseled. Possible response: How you may or may not have been counseled is not the issue here. The Developmental Counseling Form is just another way of improving upon a process that we have had in place for a long time, the development of soldiers. ** Note added by ACO Team www.armycounselingonline.com Page 5 of 5 Created by Mark Gerecht