This blog post is a continuation of the multi-part Company Command Series covering key aspects of my command experience that I feel other commanders (current and future) can benefit from. This post discusses Unit Training Management focused on battle rhythms.
Unit Training Management (UTM) is the systematic foundation of any military tactical-level unit. The quality of your UTM can make or break your command time. Maximizing your UTM systems is critical to your company’s overall effectiveness and efficiency. It also prevents wasting your leaders’ time with inefficient meetings (or too many meetings). Ultimately, it establishes predictability for your subordinates.
To build an effective UTM, start with a battle rhythm. Brainstorm with your leaders (I recommend 1SG, Operations Sergeant, XO, and PLT leadership teams) and identify what topics need to be reviewed in a meeting and how often. With those topics, put topic to calendar and assign a date-time group that works best for your company and is nested within battalion and brigade schedules. Minimize the number of meetings. Be critical in determining if certain topics actually require meeting. If so, look to group similar topics having minimal organizational impact in one meeting. I grouped my company supply meeting with our maintenance meeting; the bi-weekly supply meeting would immediately follow the company maintenance meeting on selected weeks to prevent an additional time my Platoon Leaders and XO needed to meet me in the conference room.
Once that is codified, create a company battle rhythm product. Publish it to the entire company. My company’s battle rhythm is below for example.
You must also identify the deliverables for each meeting and explicitly explain what you want. Determine for each meeting: the audience, required inputs, and expected outputs. I made this as the “back page” to my company battle rhythm.
Finally, create an agenda for each meeting. This forces the meetings to become deliberately thought-out and efficient, not a routine sausage making session. Hearing about company training meetings lasting 2+ hours makes me cringe. If you need to work out plans or details, do that with the necessary personnel another time; do not do that during a battle rhythm event. I’ve provided agendas from my company training meeting and maintenance meeting as examples.
As a commander, your time is limited, but the expectations of you are not. Being efficient with your personal time as a commander is crucial. Similar to your company battle rhythm, make a personal one. Inspired by the blog post by From the Green Notebook, I recommend you create a “Callsign6” battle rhythm. On it, outline the battle rhythm events/meetings you must attend (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) as well as the suspense times for routine product submissions (e.g., when battalion training meeting slides, commander’s SITREP, or command & staff slides are due). Below is my “Beast6” battle rhythm that I kept as the first page of my “Commander’s binder.”
The next Company Commander Series post continues on the topic of UTM, focused on a method of company-level planning.