Sample Initial and Developmental Counseling Shells
As a leader, formal counseling on a DA Form 4856 is important. I never began using counseling as a tool until after I was a platoon leader. In retrospect, this was a big mistake because I didn’t give my subordinates opportunities to become better people and soldiers. You may think, “what can I–a 23-year-old 2LT–offer a PSG with 15 years in the Army?” Well, you can offer him or her a fresh perspective on their performance and what they can do better. Also, as his or her rater, you can tell them your expectations on paper. My boss gave me these shells when I joined my unit about two years ago. They gave me a starting point for giving practical and thorough counseling.
(For further reading, check out The Mentor: Everything you need to know about Leadership & Counseling, The Army Officer’s Guide, and The NCO Guide: 9th Edition.)
Initial Counseling DA Form 4856 Shell
Here, you can download our Initial Counseling DA Form 4856 shell. I always try to include, at a minimum, my expectations of the rated soldier and their subordinates, my priorities, how I will rate them, and my redline issues. When I conducted senior rater counseling for a new Sergeant, one of my main expectations for him as a leader was accountability of his soldiers. When I gave my priorities in garrison, they were normally, family, training, “fun” schools. My redline issues are drugs, DUIs, and integrity failures. During initially counseling, we will also talk about some personal topics, such as family, career path, and their strengths and weaknesses.
Developmental Counseling DA Form 4856 Shell
Here, you can download our Developmental Counseling DA Form 4856 shell. For NCOs, counseling junior enlisted soldiers can be a pain. Before the first Wednesday of every month, I review counselings from my E5. Most NCOs I’ve rated or senior rated have check-the-box quality developmental counselings. They do it because they have to do it. Well, the junior enlisted soldiers end up doing poorly because they don’t know what the right thing to do is. When I conduct developmental counseling, I ensure that it covers major events, sustains, and improves. If the NCO is in danger of receiving a poor NCOER, I cover how he or she can get better. Because I regularly counseling my NCOs, I can put together a good NCOER in one day. Counseling makes everything better.
Not many people counsel and those who do normally don’t do it well. Counseling is one of the most powerful tools in communicating and changing behavior. Take a look at the shells, and, hopefully, you’ll take some ideas and be a better counselor.
For further reading check out The Mentor: Everything you need to know about Leadership & Counseling, The Army Officer’s Guide, and The NCO Guide: 9th Edition.