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Preparing the DA FORM 2166-8-1 NCOER Counseling and Support Form

Tips, techniques, and professional advice for preparing the new NCOER Counseling and Support Form

Proper preparation for the new NCOER Counseling and Support Form, DA FORM 2166-8-1 is quite arguably the most requested content that I've been asked to provide on ArmyNCO.com over the past several months. This is quite understandable. Both AR 623-3 and DA PAM 623-3 require raters to utilize the 2166-8-1 as part of the NCO counseling process, but provide very little specific guidance on exactly how to carry out this task.

I personally believe that there are a couple of practical ways to use the NCOER Counseling and Support Form, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. The method you use to complete the 2166-8-1, however, is not nearly as important as simply ensuring it gets done and providing your subordinates an effectual counseling session. I've provided a couple of completed NCOER Counseling and Support Forms for you to use as examples. Ideally, of course, you should use these examples as only a base from which to draw from your own experiences in order to effectively apply your own unique counseling style to your rated NCO(s).

This first NCOER Counseling and Support Form example draws from the emphasis on the previous version of the DA Form 2166-8-1 dated October 2001, which emphasized the need to clearly articulate to the rated NCO your expected standards needed to not only achieve success, but also how to go above and beyond and achieve the coveted excellence rating.

Under each Task/Action of each NCO responsibility, provide your rated NCO a specific bullet comment indicating your requirements for achieving excellence, success, and what you would consider justification for a needs improvement rating. Under Performance Summary, you would of course indicate your NCO's actual achievements and performance.

In my opinion, this method is advantageous for young inexperienced raters because it is very easy to prepare the 2166-8-1.

This disadvantage of this method is clear–it discusses your NCO's Tasks/Actions in generalities versus very clear and specific details.

I must admit that this next example is my preferred method for utilizing the New NCOER Counseling and Support Form. In this example, you give your NCO very clear and specific tasks and/or objectives that you want accomplished for each given quarter of his or her rated period. This method will leave no doubt in your rated NCO's mind, about your expectations. There will be no surprises during each counseling session as you discuss with the rated NCO your expectations versus what exactly was or was not accomplished.

As stated above, the advantages of this method is that it provides your rated NCO with very specific guidance and expected performance standards. It does, however, require a significant more thought and preparation to be effective.

I've hoped that this couple of examples has proven helpful. As a bit of final advice, use the method that you feel most comfortable with based on your own personal experience. Ideally I would hope that you raters of the world's finest noncommissioned officers would always strive to provide your young leaders with clear performance standards regardless of the method you use. I will also say that, in my opinion, there is not nearly enough space on the DA Form 2166-8-1 to discuss everything that good effective counseling session should entail. In addition to the NCOER Counseling and Support Form, an attached DA FORM 4856 Developmental Counseling Form is also a must. If you haven't done so, I'd recommend reviewing my other NCO counseling content for more information.