Becoming the most senior cadet NCO on the squadron - problems with discipline

Hi there,
I have previously posted on here earlier this year when I was a newly promoted Cdt Sgt - I felt somewhat out of my depth at the time. Thanks to the support and advice I received from on here as well as from staff and other SNCOs on my squadron, I feel that I have gradually grown into my rank and have settled in well to perform as a more effective SNCO.

However, my main challenge now is to continue to further improve my leadership skills etc., as within the next few months, I will become the most senior cadet NCO on my squadron. My squadron is relatively small and because of that we have quite a small cadet NCO team, with the only SNCOs being myself, 1 FS and 1 CWO. The FS and CWO are staff cadets and will be ageing out within the next few months, hence why I will soon become the most senior cadet NCO on the squadron (I am currently 16 so have a good few years left!).

Now the main reason why this is an issue for me is because due to some problems the squadron has faced over the past year or so, cadet numbers have decreased (this has mostly affected the NCO team as we have had 7 NCOs leave within the past year alone due to them becoming fed up) and there is an underlying lack of discipline and respect amongst certain cadets and some of the JNCOs. Because of this, the JNCOs are not pulling their weight effectively. Furthermore, we only have 3 JNCOs who attend on a regular basis, and due to the lack of discipline amongst cadets we do not have many cadets (or JNCOs) who are currently showing potential for promotion. Since I will soon be the most senior cadet NCO on the squadron, I have been told by my OC that there will obviously be some changes to the cadet NCO team, as we will no longer have a FS or a CWO so will only be left with 4 of the current NCOs. As I will become the most senior NCO, I will obviously be expected to take on more of a mentoring role with the other NCOs than I am currently doing and will be working more closely with them. However, because there is a lack of discipline and (in some cases) morale amongst the JNCOs, I am finding it extremely difficult to encourage them to pull their weight. For example, the JNCOs are not dealing with problems such as cadets misbehaving (e.g. constantly talking on parade and being disrespectful to members of staff) and cadets who constantly put no effort into their uniform despite being at the squadron for a long enough time to have been shown multiple times how to get their uniform up to the correct standard.

I have been asked by my CO and WO to improve the leadership of the JNCO team as obviously this is much needed, especially since they will soon have to up their game greatly once the FS and CWO leave. However, I am trying my absolute hardest to do so while seeing little improvement, and quite frankly I am beginning to reach my wits end with it all. I don’t know if anyone is able to help, but any advice on how I could potentially go about solving this problem would be much appreciated!

Thank you,
Nightrose

Hi Nightrose,

I am currently in the same boat with only myself and another newly promoted Cdt Sgt, and 4 Cdt Cpls, having to mentor the JNCO’s, and the new Cdt Sgt. If you as whilst all the JNCO’s are free ask for a little time with them and go over standards, drill and leadership and work as a team in this time. You can also go out for a bonding session what could be a good idea to get better communication as colleagues.

Hope this helps,
GeoC

You cannot do this alone. You need to have a sit down with your CO and WO. Come up with some goals and a plan of how you will achieve them. Make the goals achievable. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

As a SNCO, you need to be thinking of the long term goals of your unit. Look at developing those NCOs and cadets below you. Integrate discipline into these goals.

Discipline can take a long time to change and that change must start with your NCOs. Everyone needs to be on the same page with discipline and most of all…CONSISTENT.

To start the change with your NCOs, you need some NCO training. A weekend maybe? Get everyone tooled up on their roles and how they fit in, then provide training. Discipline will fall into place with a well trained NCO team. That is where you start.

Nightrose,
You’re not alone in this boat - very common. Valiant makes some solid suggestions but the first is best: sit down with the Sqn CO.
YOU cannot do this alone and discipline is a cultural issue that needs the CO’s direction and strongest support - with a unified approach from all the adult staff. Slipping standards arises from the staff being busy (or sometimes disinterested) owing to the plethora of their broader duties (the list of their ‘must do’ management tasks gets longer each year).

So: CO’s plan, agreed and supported by staff (who are present on parades etc to step on the low-level stuff), with the cadet NCO body acting as a united team - this will help. Not overnight, but be encouraged that acting together it won’t take so long, either.

Good luck!

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My biggest advice is ensure the JNCOs are doing their job and singing from the same hymn sheet as you

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Wow… firstly congratulations on the future promotion to senior NCO and secondly well done for seeing the difficulties and trying so hard. With that said I would do the following:

  • Write down on a piece of paper everything you see that is wrong (you probably have covered most things in your post)
  • For each item grade it between 1 and 5 where 1 is an irritant and 5 is critical (you may feel everything is a 5 but try to prioritise the issues)
  • Against each item write down what you think needs to happen. Be open and honest about this and it could include “I have no idea” or “I need training” or “The staff need to”.
  • Ask for a meeting with your CO and WO. Suggest this is before parade starts or even on a non squadron night
  • At the meeting tell the staff where you’re at and that you need help to reset what, in your opinion, is going on. Have your list and say you have written down everything along with suggestions and can you run through it
  • Formulate a plan with the staff, you need their backing and, to be frank, they probably need to make some changes themselves

For the NCO team I would then organise a session with them and start with a bold statement about how you want the Squadron to be the best in the WIng and need their help in getting there. Explain that you need a clean sweep with everyone pulling together. Make a bold statement about failure to be part of this new team probably means they will need to think seriously about their future as an NCO… gulp…

Start with the Cadet code of conduct. Read through this with the NCO team (when was the last time you read it?) and get them prepared.

Have the staff then run through the cadet code of conduct with the all the cadets one evening. You could even make it more formal and have them sign something (yes they have already but this makes it real).

Having established a starting point you, the staff and the NCO’s can start to tighten the discipline. I would suggest that you ignore the uniform initially, you’re probably spending too much effort shouting at everyone for rubbish uniform when the NCO’s are falling short in the first place. Establish some basic principles where all cadets and NCO’s stand to attention when talking to staff, cadets do the same to NCO’s and JNCO’s do the same to SNCO etc. With a slow tightening of the discipline you can then get the NCO team to improve the uniform and, in turn, push this down to the cadets.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like the squadron has slowly turned in to a general youth club. You need to have the backing of the staff and tackle the day to day discipline before you can shift to the next level.

Hope that gives you some ideas, you can’t do this alone but as the SNCO at the Squadron you are in a good position to influence.

Good luck, view this as an exciting challenge and go for it.

Let us all know how you get on.

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If I were the OC of your unit I would be taking a long hard look at myself and ask the question how had I, as the OC, allowed this situation to come about. I would question my leadership qualities and start taking steps to put things right. It would be a team effort with adult and cadet staff pulling together towards a common goal, but at the end of the day success or failure would rest with me not my staff.

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It is easy to judge when we don’t know of any extenuating circumstances.

The CO probably does not get as much facetime with the cadets as he would like. For example in recent weeks the 3 uniform staff on my unit including myself have barely had 2 minutes with cadets due to dealing with other things.

Yes, the ultimate responsibility of the squadron rests on the CO, however we all have a responsibility towards discipline and general good order of the cadets. No CO is perfect and no CO can be there 100% of the time.

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If you quoted my post in full, I make the point it is a team effort with adult and cadet staff pulling together towards a common goal.

You’ve missed my point. I was referring to the point I quoted regarding abilities etc.

That’s the simple easy answer but I have seen a Sqn where the OC was totally unaware of the truth as his “team” were manipulating everything.

The de facto oc was the adj, the SNCO was the adj’s child and if you didn’t toe the line on what they were wanting then a cadet or member of staff would put in a complaint about you! The oc was discussing things with the adj and SNCO and being fed utter BS.

When it all finally came out in the wash the OC resigned out of embarrassment and shame…
As expected this organisation promoted the adj.

While the OC has overall responsibility, discipline is and always been delegated to the adult SNCO(s) when I was WO it was my bag and if it went breasts up (not that it ever did) it would have been me who the CO would have spoken to not the cadet NCOs and this how I have worked.
The adult SNCO(s) then delegate the day to day to the cadet NCOs.

Frankly the senior adult SNCO in this case needs to do the “you don’t have to be here, you come here of your own freewill. To that end we have rules and ways of doing things and these include x/y/z. If you don’t like them, then you are free to leave” speech.
You do not need a meeting with the CO of your squadron to discuss anything, as your “line manager” is the senior adult SNCO. I’m not quite sure where all this ‘have a meeting with the CO” comes from. I certainly would not entertain it. But it would appear the CO has spoken to you but at their behest.
Once the adult SNCO bit (as suggested) is done, you as cadet NCOs just start chipping away and above everything else be consistent and yes it will be hard, frustrating, annoying and thankless, but one of two things will happen, they will go or they will stay. If the JNCOs don’t do it, jump on them and repeat until they either leave or get on board.
When we have a new intake the little speech above is delivered with the parents there and then on day one, so no one is under any illusion, that while I may run a reasonably relaxed ship, the expectations are there and to not comply will just make things uncomfortable for detractors.

In all of this I think that the current CWO, FS and yourself need to take ownership of the problem and not try and bat it away. If I had a CWO and things got as bad as you seem to suggest, he/she and I would be having a chat, with the senior Adult SNCO as a spectator.
Did the NCOs that left do so because they were fed up with the ATC and or the situation on the squadron and or were their lives getting more and more caught up with school and other teen things and the ATC was getting in the way, or combination of all of these?
Or is it the there was so many that

There was an important job to be done and Everyone was sure that Someone would do it.
Anyone could have done it, but No-one did it.
Someone got angry about that because he thought that it was Everyone’s job.
Everyone thought that Anyone could do it, but No-one realised that Everyone wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everyone was angry with Someone because No-one did what Anyone could have done!

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Reading this rings so true with myself.

I have recently been promoted to Cdt Sgt a long with my friend and we are now co-leading our section at the age of 15 having been in the section for just over a year, ahhh.

Discipline is the biggest issue with the rest of our JNCOs setting a bad example of just not turning up in uniform at all and ofter only 3 people being in uniform a night. Also not listening to teaching and chucking thing across the room etc.

The advice given on here already seems really sound…i just want to say i am here and i get what you are going though.

Have you spoken to your adult staff about this? (Or are they not very keen/not able to be there every time?)

If it’s really bad, have a chat with your TEST Sgt on his/her next visit.

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Our staff, have recently become more aware of it due to a new member who was finding their feet within the staff reporting it. It is mainly up to us to enforce these things and we are just hoping a new year and a good shout we had before we broke up are enough to re establish some discipline and standard throughout the section.

If not I will have to have a word with some one more senior I think to have a go. :laughing:.
Thank you though.

Good luck - hope you sort it out next term.

Start hard - you can always get softer but the other way doesn’t work. (There’s an old saying in teaching, ‘never smile before Christmas’…)

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