Is it my fault for this problem?


Hey all, I hope this doesn’t seem like a moan, but I am at my wit’s end with this situation.

I am the Cadet NCO i/c of the squadron, and I am having problems with my NCO team for the past 2 years. I have tried everything under the sun to try and get the team to work together, but the only thing that has happened is that there is a divide in the NCO Team. Is it my fault for trying to get my team to work together? Is there a deeper meaning to the divide? My only other option is for demotions, but I don’t know if the NCO i/c can ask for demotions from their CO. I have gone to my staff repeatedly about the issue of the team.

For a bit of context, we have:
4 Cpls, where only 1 has done a JNCO Course.
2 Sgts, where 1 has done both a JNCO and SNCO Course, and the other has done no courses.
1 FS, me, and I’ve done both NCO Courses.
We regularly have 20 to 30 cadets on a parade night with a smidge over 30 on the books, (I know this as I sort out all the registers, Inspection Sheets, and flights).

We had 8 Cpls, 3 Sgts, and 2 FS. 3 Cpls and 1 Sgt got to 18 and didn’t submit their DBS, 1 FS and 1 Sgt left as they felt like they were holding onto their rank, and work factors. and the Sgt that has done no courses got promoted from Cpl to Sgt, even though I recommended the Cpl who has done the JNCO Course, but I got told that we need female SNCOs or it gives a bad reputation for the squadron, and she is the better one of the 2 female NCOs.

Is there anything more I can do? Or is another option me leaving the squadron and transferring/leaving the corps? As I am struggling to deal with the Team as a whole, especially since the NCOs that haven’t done any courses have come back from the exam season to a more highly disciplined, and more efficiently run parade night system, and are taking it out on the cadets. I have had many cadets come up to me, and the Cpl and Sgt that have done the courses, complaining about them.



Hi Chris,

you haven’t really told us about the divide, and what the issues actually are.

Without knowing the root cause of the problem you’re never going to solve it. Might I suggest you have a chat with each of them separately and ask what heir feelings and concerns are. Once you’re armed with the facts and feelings you can then take steps to solving the problem.

It may sound a little “pink and fluffy” but you need all the facts in order to make any decisions.





I have tried that, but the group that hasn’t done any courses complain that we are “too military” and that we are here to have fun. But then the next minute on the first parade the no course group shout at the cadets, and rollock them in front of all the other cadets, so much so that I have removed them from the parade.



So what did the guys tell you about their thoughts as to what should be happening?

Is there jealousy? lack of knowledge? confidence? external issues? - you need to take these things into account.

Once all these things have been looked into, you can have a gathering of everyone and address the situation. Offering help and advice to all of them in the areas you think it’s needed. You also need to have a vision of where the team needs to be and you need to communicate that to them. Mission Command is the key phrase here. Passing your intent onto the team so they can make it happen.

It doesn’t have to be harsh or a one way conversation, but you are in command and they need to know what you want to happen.

Successful leadership starts with ‘understanding your team’ and ‘excellent communication’



Teams are an organic mass and how they work best is how they work best. People come and go and from experience the ones regarded as ‘team players’ are those tiresome individuals who are in people’s faces trying to show how good they are.
Trying to make people work together etc etc won’t work, as personalities etc get in the way. Anywhere you work you will find that the group of disparate individuals drawn together to get a pay packet at the end of the month will do their own thing, but the overall effect is getting the task done. I much prefer to be left to my own devices and am quite happy getting on with my own thing, but this contributes to the whole.

As for courses so what if people have or haven’t done a course. The cadet NCO courses do not make you a better NCO. None of my current NCOs have done one and they fully hold their own around all the other NCOs they come into contact with, some of whom will have. The ATC likes to play these up, but they are so over attended that they are pointless. One of my adult NCOs has assisted with them on the Wing and said you didn’t / couldn’t get to know any of the cadets and they were just faces in the crowd. I work on the premise they didn’t exist when I was a cadet NCO and many like me made it to the dizzy heights of CWO without them and many still do, which shows the real value of them.


There’s some good advice in here and some very bad advice. Be careful who you listen to.



There isn’t jealousy, that they admit to, but it is clear to see that they are jealous of the fact that I changed their position in the team which increased the number of cadets down on the squadron, and the number of new recruits we kept. There is a lack of knowledge from the group, as I give all the NCO Team random spot checks on ACP 48 (and ACP 49 for the Sgts), AP818, and ACP 1358c. They consistently fail, despite promising me that they do keep up to date with the publications. Confidence is something that they don’t have a problem with in telling off cadets; or going behind my back, and starting false rumours about me, especially when I was on Medical Leave. There isn’t an external issue as much that I am aware of.

I have offered them personal tutoring, which they have refused. I have worked with my staff about giving squadron expectations of the role and rank they have, but they haven’t taken it on board. At the end of every parade night there is a debrief, in which they keep asking when will the debriefs will stop as they are a pointless waste of time, that stop them from having fun in their eyes, but the debrief is something the squadron NCOs have done when I started over 6 years ago. I have printed out, and given all the NCOs the vision of where the team needs to get to. The vision hasn’t changed in the 2 years that the team has been under my stewardship, and it hasn’t changed when I was promoted to 2 i/c 3 years ago.

I am trying my best to understand my team, but there seems to be a wall between that group, the other group, and a wall between that group and me. I do brief them every parade night on the plan, and what is happening, who is doing what, and what the aim of the night is.

I don’t know what I’m not doing, and I don’t know if there is anything I am doing that I shouldn’t be doing.




Doing the JNCO Course changed me, and made me a more confident person. It is clear to see if NCOs have or haven’t done the NCO Courses. On my wing, the courses are very informative, and you get regular meetings with a tutor, and check ups after the course has finished by your tutor, and there is a detailed break down of your assessment with your tutor, and assessor.

It depends on each wing and what they do, but my wing really does its best at trying to help grow leadership, and expand the potential of those who are in the roles they get. Your wing might be different. But it is very important that NCOs know ACP 48 (and ACP 49 when reaching the SNCO Level).


It sounds as if you’ve made some good efforts already - good job.

I appreciate it’s frustrating but we still need to keep at it!

why not try setting up tutoring between themselves - SNCOs mentoring the JNCOs?

that’s an interesting comment - what do you think the reason for that is?

are they? do you need to have them is that format? Just because you’ve been doing it for ages doesn’t mean you have to keep doing them - is there a better way?

have you sat and talked about it? found the right way to get there as a team?

that’s the correct course of action - but you need to look at why there’s a wall. Don’t forget to be flexible in your outlook and attitudes. Junior members are different to you. You need to be flexible to those differences even if it’s not the way like to do business! (I learned that the hard way)

Ultimately you’re all there to have fun, decide what you want your team to be and explain it to them. Ask if they don’t like it, but ask them why. Their opinions are as valid as the next person. Their idea might actually be better than yours! (shock, horror!) But you still need to take ownership of the idea. That makes them feel valued and have made a difference.But it’s still your decision to take the idea on board!!

Leadership is a fickle old bird - and no one gets it right 100% of the time. You’re not doing anything wrong, but you may be able to do it differently.

Hope that helps a little!




You need to step away from the books on this I’m afraid, ACP 48/49 are hopelessly out of date, and while they have some useful content it’s not something you should be testing the NCOs on.

First & foremost the RAFAC is Uniformed Youth Organisation and priority 1 is for all members (cadets & staff) to enjoy what they do.

Your NCOs may have a point about the nightly debrief - especially if it’s done at the end of the evening and everyone just wants to go home.

Have a read of this experiment about the 5 Monkeys I think you might be able to draw some parallels.

It sounds to me that your team is dysfunctional, and if this continues it will harm the squadron, which your clearly aware and trying to resolve which is great. Do you have any SNCOs on the staff team, if so ask them to help you with this.

Expectations need to be set for your JNCOs - what is you want them to do, what are not achieving currently, do the same for your SNCOs although they may have more specific roles.

Ask your NCOs what they think their role is and how this translates to them enjoying their time in the ATC whilst also helping the Squadron run smoothly.

Your NCO Structure is almost perfect, perhaps too perfect and if 1 isn’t at the squadron the system could break.

Do you have monthly/quarterly NCO meetings during the parade night with the staff running the evening, this might be a solution to your debriefs, you could all chip in for a pizza and use it to try and break the barriers - be Chris in these meetings and not the FS :slight_smile:


All teams are dysfunctional, if you have a team that is perfectly harmonious then you have a team of one. To have a group of disparate people who work together perfectly all the time is a utopian state. Add in teenage hormones, angst, etc and it becomes even more interesting. I’ve been in this organisation a long time and watching the hormones kick in always produces interesting results.

Having nights out, team building or whatever you’d like to call it are great, especially if someone else is paying, but people will still gravitate to their mates and you don’t all come out as “one body”. Our company took over another in 2001 and the company paid for us to go to a hotel for 2 days teambuilding. It was great all paid and free bar, but it didn’t make everyone become bestest buds. They employed some hyperactive idiots from a company to run exercises and games (like we do for leadership/initiative) who were annoying beyond belief, to get us to ‘bond’, but it didn’t work. We’d work with the people we did in a professional manner, but it took about 3 years before people integrated, as by that time the people from the other firm who weren’t happy had left and the residual ‘moved in’ with us.

I did the analysis of the evaluation forms and the best thing was the hospitality. The hyperactive souls were not well received and regarded as a waste of money and I’d bet they weren’t cheap.


Give it a rest will you. You constantly related your employment (whatever that is) to the ACO. It’s quite boring and to be honest, isn’t a representation of everyone’s employment.


There is a world outside the ATC and the experiences are relevant and provide context.

Youngsters know school and whatever they do outside of school. Those who are cadets are led to believe that things like teambuilding exercises work, when in general they don’t for any longer than the period of the activity, unless you actually get on with someone, which can then spawn into a ‘friendship’.


So they do work then.


Nowt wrong with relating ACO to other factors. In fact if the ACO pulled its head out of its own back end, and started to look at other organisations and stop thinking of itself as a mini Luftwaffe or Hitler youth, I bet it would be a lot more fun for staff and cadets.

Teams aren’t always made up of “friends”. Sometimes you have to just get on with it. You can’t always be Bessie oppos all the time.
I have worked in numerous teams, for various situations, and roles and I haven’t been best mates with all of them.

I like how everyone has tactfully avoided the blatant sexual discrimination. Promoting someone because of their gender, not their abilities… oooooh controversial.