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Any advice on Squad/platoon leading?

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  • Any advice on Squad/platoon leading?

    Well the title basically explains it. I'm asking for critque/advice on squad/platoon leading within the area of planetside2.

    I personally feel that when ever I step up to lead I've most (or a least a good number of my squads) end up performing less then satisfactory. My internal locus of control tells me that this is probably a result of mismanagement on my end.

    Background:
    Out side of planetside I've have had quite a bit of leadership experience. When I was younger I was in a very "scout run" troop for the Boy Scouts where at some point I was elected to become in charge of the whole troop for close to 2 years. Throughout my years before receiving my Eagle, I also entered a number of leadership and team building groups (both with scouting and the military). Now my current occupation is managing a bunch of Theater Techs (AKA The stage crew).
    Where I really think the problem lies is, throughout these different experiences I've always been a very visual leader I would more commonly use actions and non-verbal communication as both a means of establishing order and communication. Wherever there was a trouble maker I could always speak with them face to face. Lastly I would normally be working with the same group for a good amount of time so I would be able to gauge the capabilities of the group.

    I obviously can't keep doing the same things as I've always done in this case so...
    What i'm asking for:
    -how can I better communicate with my squad?
    -How can I have my squad member feel more inclined to follow orders?
    -How can I better evaluate platoon area comms while also evaluating the current battle at hand?
    -What are other some short comings or areas that I some people feel I could improve upon.

    I ask everyone to be as honest as possible. I've never been one to take offense to any kind of critique. I only ever see critique as potential to improve.

  • #2
    Re: Any advice on Squad/platoon leading?

    Zepkron, there are as many answers as there are people about what makes a good leader. So I can only give you my perspective. Good leaders get results from their people, from their squad and from the objectives assigned. Good leaders have good communication skills, because they have too in order to get the results. Good leaders have good people skills in order to get the most from their people.

    Now why results, results give people a sense of accomplishment. Results give people a clear measuring stick to how well they did and are doing. The better they perceive they are doing under your leadership the more they will invest.

    How do you get results? Results in PS2 come in many forms, the amount of kills, the capturing of a base, the thwarting of the enemy in a way they least expect. Innovate, improvise, and overcome, these are the building blocks of results. Think outside the box is a way over used and misquoted statement but it applies here. There is a flow to PS2, the enemy acts in certain ways most of time, in turn the blueberries act in certain ways most of the time.........because most of time they are acting in ways known to each other the fight is often one of numbers, it is in acting contrary to those given conventions that you'll find results. Getting results is a constant education because as others see you getting results with a given technique they will adopt it, eventually it becomes everyday fighting. But a lot of time techniques are actually just phases brought in over and over again in a rhythmic cycle. But they find root because no one is doing it anymore and that in itself makes it novel again.

    I suggest taking a squad of mostly TG members.......preferably older TG members and run with a squad like that for a while if possible. They will give you insight and overview and help you to see what is possible. Once you start getting results then you'll see why I make it forefront.

    Remember being a leader isn't just telling people what to do............its telling people the 'right' thing to do.

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    • #3
      Re: Any advice on Squad/platoon leading?

      Well, having the desire to want to improve (and especially, asking for constructive criticism) are taking two huge steps toward improving yourself as a leader. And I applaud you for that.

      On to your specific questions:

      -how can I better communicate with my squad?
      -How can I have my squad member feel more inclined to follow orders?


      I feel these are related. I am a big believer in setting expectations. If you have been in my squads, when I first take over (and periodically afterward, if we have seen a lot of turnover) I will tell them what I expect and how this squad is run. This is my "I only have a couple of rules" speech, if you have heard it (the rules are: follow orders, and stick together, for starters; sometimes I add more later as we go along).

      After that, you just have to realize that some people cannot or will not follow orders. Maybe their comms are not on, who knows. I give people a couple chances (sometimes even trying to reach them in text chat, if I am feeling nice), and if I am still getting no response after a while, ask the PL to boot them. Believe me, once people see that you are serious (you only have to boot one or two people usually) it's amazing how much everyone else falls in line. lol Personally, I always try to be respectful and professional about it, and say something like "Alpha 6 (or even better, say their name), you are welcome to rejoin the squad, but we need you to be following along with what we are doing here."

      If your guys are just all over the place, take a moment and rally up. Have everyone meet you at a certain place and tell them "whoever is not here in x seconds is going to be kicked from the squad." And then do it.

      Overall, there is a fine balance between commanding respect, and being an A-hole. Be confident, think about what you are going to do before you start telling the guys. Then calmly explain, and then execute the plan. Don't be wishy washy and change you mind too often. RAGE makes a good point about success breeding confidence in your leadership abilities also. So much of it has to do with personality as well. We have a lot of good leaders here at TG, with many different styles. Tag along with those whose leadership style you enjoy/appreciate, and emulate them. Take parts of what you like about their style, and put it together with some other things and eventually you will develop your own leadership style.

      At the end of the day, don't be discouraged. There are a lot of idiots playing this game, especially in a pubbie squad. lol A lot of people will not listen, this does not necessarily mean you are a bad SL. Also, some times you have to kick a couple guys and work together with a certain group for a little while before the squad starts to "gel" and become effective. And there will be good days and bad days. If you start yelling at your guys and getting upset, time to take a break. lol

      -How can I better evaluate platoon area comms while also evaluating the current battle at hand?

      Not sure what to tell you here, other than you do need to practice keeping an ear open in platoon, in order to hear the PL (of course) but also what other SLs are reporting, and then interpret how this may affect your squad. Sometimes you will need to stop what you are doing, open your map, etc. etc. which adds to your cognitive load, but is required if you are going to be an effective SL. You just have to accept that and not expect to be able to run and gun all the time like you might just do if you are a squad member. This is why I think a lot of people don't want to step up and SL/PL, or experienced ones sometimes just say they "are not up to it" at any particular moment.

      -What are other some short comings or areas that I some people feel I could improve upon.

      As I said, you are taking a big step forward already by starting this conversation.

      To be perfectly honest, I have not paid extremely close attention to you SLing, although I will say that I have noticed you maybe being a little less engaged? Everyone has their own style of course, but I find that more engaged SLs usually get better results from their men. Talk to your guys, tell them what you expect and tell them what to do, tell them what the plan is and how your squad is going to carry out the PLs orders, using specifics. Some of this requires a good working knowledge of general tactics, along with knowledge of the map/base and experience in game (which you have a lot of by now). Also think about how good SLs run their squads that you have been in.

      No discussion of leadership in PS2 (or in general, even) would be complete without linking to Garthra's excellent post on the Principles of Squad/Platoon Leadership. There are a lot of good nuggets in that article, I recommend you read it if you have not done so already.

      But more specifically, I would be happy to jump into your squad any time and pay closer attention, and then give you some pointers. If you want, we could even be in a separate channel in TS so as not to bother anyone else, and I could give you straightforward evaluation out of the ears of the rest of the squad.
      "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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      • #4
        Re: Any advice on Squad/platoon leading?

        Thank you both for the comments and feed back.
        As I said before whenever I lead a group I typically us methods that, for obvious reason don't work within in planetside.(good posture, enthusiastic actions, projection, etc.)
        I'm think that my inability to always emulate that through planetside is simply just a result of a lack of non-face to face experience. (I need practice.)

        I've already started looking at the methods that other squad leaders methods and have been playing around with a few some I like and other appear a bit too strict for my style. Right now I think that it all really falls down to knowing how i'd like to operate. Next time I join a TG platoon, I think I'll just sit back a bit and take mental notes. I'll probably start doing my typical Late night squads again, as I find the pubs during those hours are more inviting and stay longer yet unfamiliar not always as well experienced as many of the TG members.

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        • #5
          Re: Any advice on Squad/platoon leading?

          Unrelated note:
          In your background story, aside from the military part, you just described my brother perfectly. I think you are his doppleganger.

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          • #6
            Re: Any advice on Squad/platoon leading?

            I don't know how qualified I am to give leadership advice to you, given your stated credentials, but here's some general advice and principles I follow that I hope will at least be a little useful to you:

            The most important thing when leading a squad, IMO, is to ensure squad cohesion. That is, your squad is at the same place at the same time pursuing the same objective. It's very, very easy to end up with your squad scattered across a base, but it's terribly ineffective. You might as well just be part of the zerg at that point, because you won't be focused, you won't be responsive to new orders or objectives, and your squad won't be able to support one another. When I'm platoon leading, this is the first thing I look at when trying to figure out how effective any of my individual squads are. If the squad is scattered, I know I can't rely on it for combat effectiveness or rapid response. Take, for example, the idea of loading up in a galaxy. A cohesive squad in the same general area will load up in a matter of seconds, but a scattered squad will keep us waiting for minutes.

            To that end, what Randy said about setting expectations early and being trigger happy on the kick command applies here. Do not waste time with uncooperative squad members. Weed them out quickly and often.

            Another good trick is to regroup outside of a combat zone to automatically kick your cohesion back up to 100% (and easily figure out who to kick). Loading up in a transport vehicle or meeting up at a rally point is typically low pressure and gets everyone together, and it's much easier to keep a cohesive squad together than it is to try and wrangle an incohesive squad mid-fight.

            When the fight starts, keep an eye on your guys and try to keep them on-point and not wandering off. For many people their first instinct is to charge towards the enemy instead of moving with the squad. Nip that behaviour in the bud and keep everyone with the squad as much as you can. Obviously, under chaotic conditions this will be nigh-impossible to maintain... in those situations, you'll either need to just roll with the reduced squad ineffectiveness for the time being, or step back, regroup, and approach with a fresh start.

            Set a good example for the behaviour you want your squad to exhibit. If you run around chasing XP instead of moving with the squad, your squad will generally act the same way. However, if you stick close to the point, run your comms well, call out your targets, etc, you'll start to see more of this behaviour in kind. This is actually a type of leadership that you can employ as a squad member, too... set a good example, be visible about it, and the mindset will find its way to your squad-mates (and your squad lead will thank you for it).

            Lead with confidence. Try to have your orders sorted out before you give them to minimize second-guessing yourself. An SL that isn't sure of themselves will have trouble getting buy-in from their troops because they'll be waiting for the orders to flip-flop again. That's not to say that you shouldn't change your orders if the situation warrants it, but do what you can to reduce the impression of being indecisive!

            For managing platoon level comms while leading your squad: you should consider that to be your primary job. I think E-male was the one who liked to say "the squad is my weapon", and that's a good mindset to hold. Your job is to coordinate your squad to achieve the objectives given to you by the PL, not to do it all yourself. Make sure you don't spend too much of your cognitive bandwidth on combat and maneuvers, you should let your squad manage that most of the time and instead focus on the squad level details of where to go, what to shoot, what kits to bring, etc.

            On that note: I've found that taking control of the platoon leader's orders to my squad does wonders for maintaining cohesion and keeping my squad engaged with what I'm saying. If my PL tells me to move to a hill or take a point, I make a point of not letting the PL take control of my squad members and issues my own orders. If I'm being lazy it'll just be reiterating what the PL said, but that's not the best way to do it. Ideally, I'll set intermediate waypoints, issue orders about vehicles and kits, get the squad regrouped before moving out, etc. This is both (IMO) an important function of the SL role, but the fine grain orders emphasize to squad members that you want tight and specific control and reassures them that you've got a plan and aren't just doing things arbitrarily (and thus, they need to fill in the blanks or do things on their own time). It's also another opportunity to figure out who isn't paying attention and kick them! :D

            I hope something in that massive rambling post was helpful!



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            • #7
              Re: Any advice on Squad/platoon leading?

              These are just my general tips not directed at the way you PL specifically.

              Toddshooters big tips are:

              - Try to set the tone early as to what speed of movement you expect from your Platoon. Tell them you are going to move fast or slow so they know what to expect from you. Let them know if vehicles are at their discretion or yours. If you are going to make good use of redeploying to cross the map you will save them resources for when they are needed.

              -communicate to your Platoon what they need to do but don't talk about it. Keeps comms as concise as possible. If the PL is talking all the time your SL's cannot do their jobs.

              - don't try to please everyone, you never will. Only except advice on what to do when you ask for advice!

              - try not to SL if you are PLing. As PL you will be living in the map and an SL needs to be boots on the ground with his or her squad.

              There are more but that's all for now. Todd
              sigpic

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              • #8
                Re: Any advice on Squad/platoon leading?

                Originally posted by Toddshooter View Post
                - try not to SL if you are PLing. As PL you will be living in the map and an SL needs to be boots on the ground with his or her squad.
                Amen to that. I'll even pass on squad lead if there are only two squads in the platoon! I've found that the cognitive load of managing the strategic picture is enough that I can't fulfill both roles simultaneously.



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