By Spc. Brea Dubose, 75th Field Artillery Brigade Public AffairsNovember 29, 2018
FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Nov. 29, 2018) -- Affecting change within a unit often doesn't happen overnight. Nor does it usually begin at the very top or bottom of an organization. For the noncommissioned officers of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery, where boots hit the ground and missions get accomplished is at their level. That's why Nov. 5-7, sergeants and staff sergeants gathered for a three-day workshop called "Not In My Squad" at the Graham Resiliency Training Center here.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey designed the workshop to address the three lines of effort: identity, culture, and climate within a unit and how junior NCOs influence them. The purpose of the workshop was to further develop the junior NCO population and coach them on how to influence the type of organizational culture and climate conducive to including all Soldiers.
Sgt. Christopher Hester, a section launcher chief from B Battery, 2-4th FA, said it's junior NCOs who have the greatest potential to impact a unit's climate.
"We are there every day with the Soldiers, so we have a hand in shaping their attitude and discipline," said Hester. "We set forth the commander's intent, and return results on what is asked of us."
On the first day of the class the NCOs separated into three groups with other leaders from different batteries. The purpose being that NCOs would get a chance to learn and collaborate with other sergeants they didn't usually work with.
The civilian course instructors guided the Soldiers through the NCO led discussions on the current unit climate: what is good and what can be improved.
Sgt. Emily Beckby, a 696th Forward Support Company fuel section leader, said it was surprising and refreshing to learn she wasn't alone in her leadership struggles.
"We all have similar problems, and we were able to come together to discuss solutions," she said.
Although many of the sergeants in the room with her held different job titles and positions, a commonly discussed problem that she too had dealt with in the past, was juggling the time it takes to complete the mission with the time needed to train and develop her Soldiers.
"Sometimes we're asked why our Soldiers don't know how to do certain things, and we feel the pressure as NCOs because the mission often takes priority," said Beckby.
Among the leadership development seminar topics discussed were: mission readiness, training, mentoring, discipline, and motivation. Hester said the open discussion with his fellow NCOs drove home that mission success and the ability to overcome daily problems starts with relying on peers when you don't have the answer in a situation and assisting them where additional support is needed.
On both days of the class the NCOs talked about their power to bring about the positive change they want to see in their unit. While Hester said his unit works to create a positive working climate, though there's always room for improvement.
"You would know if your unit has a positive climate if Soldiers come in willing and ready to work," Hester said. "The NCOs are working alongside them -- providing guidance and purpose -- and there's mutual respect between NCOs and Soldiers. That's when you know you have a positive climate."
Hester shared that his attitude toward the mission greatly affects how his Soldiers approach the mission. Beckby, held similar thoughts.
"From my level, I can bring forth a positive sense of guidance and motivation," she said. "I'm not going to be complaining about the task."
Sgt. Stephen Ratcliff said that's what the workshop was about.
"Not in My Squad' means what I will and will not allow to happen in my formation," Ratcliff said. "This event was about empowering leaders to create, maintain, and restore a positive climate in your unit."
The workshop called for those who arguably have the most impact on a unit to reflect upon how they can make their unit better.
The event culminated with the NCOs picking one person in each of the three groups to brief the Fires Center of Excellence command sergeant major and battalion command team on some of the lessons learned from the training.
Following the workshop an NCO induction ceremony served as a welcome to the newly promoted Soldiers to the rank and responsibility of the NCO Corps.