July 19, 2012

Counselings equal road map for success

By Cheryl Patterson
Assistant Inspector General

Professional development and mentoring help the Army develop Soldiers who are not only proficient in their military occupational specialties but who are also successful leaders and mentors. Effective leaders and proficient Soldiers contribute to an Army that’s “Army Strong,” along with the Department of the Army civilian workforce.

Army Regulation 350-1, “Training and Leadership Development,” December 2009, Paragraph 1-18d, directs supervisors to develop Army leaders who clearly provide purpose, direction, motivation and vision to their subordinates while executing their mission in support of their commander’s intent. With emphasis being placed on Department of the Army civilian professional development, DA civilian supervisors at all levels should not lose sight of the importance of counseling and professional development for their military members.

It is the responsibility of all supervisors to provide a solid roadmap for both their civilian and military employees which will set them up for successful careers. The starting line is the initial baseline counseling, what is expected from the employee both from the mission and command perspective. This counseling should be given at the beginning of every rating period in order to keep the expectations and responsibilities current.

Next are the ever-changing, “pit stops” with developmental counseling, event-oriented counseling, professional development counseling and on-the-spot or award recognition, among others. Noncommissioned officers are required to receive quarterly counseling, whereas junior enlisted personnel, E-4 and below, should receive monthly developmental counseling.

DA civilians are required to have an initial and a midpoint evaluation, which should include an Individual Development Plan for their professional growth. All of these “pit stops” lay a solid foundation for the required annual counseling or evaluation. At the end of the road whether for end-of-assignment or retirement, a final or exit counseling is beneficial to recognize strengths to continue, weaknesses to improve.

DA civilian supervisors are required to complete Supervisor Development Training, Manager Development Training or Defense Civilian Personnel Program System, also known as DCIPS Supervisor Training where applicable, in order to successfully guide, and mentor their civilian employees. But at this time, no required training exists to equip DA civilian supervisors in their counseling responsibilities for the military members they may supervise.

The Army Study Guide found at, and the self development tools located on the S-1 net are two of many tools for all supervisors to use. DA civilian supervisors should be encouraged to seek training and mentorship from their senior military officers and NCOs. Commanders should be encouraged to promote counseling training sessions within their units.

Even DA civilian supervisors who previously served in the military would benefit in refresher training as writing styles and forms have changed over the years. What could be considered as a well-worded counseling in the 1980s, does not hold true for today’s writing styles.

It is essential for all employees, civilian and military, to receive applicable counseling in order to promote their professional growth in rank, position, and duty assignments. The Inspectors General Office is available to review counseling statements and provide honest feedback.

For more information, contact the Fort Huachuca Inspectors General, 533.1144.

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