I work for a government contractor in the defense industry. We have a large number of veterans working for us, so I am always looking for ways to understand them better. Recently I received a review copy of this book, and I was really excited to dig in. As usual, I read with an eye on the corporate culture aspects, and I thought the author, Emily King, did a great job of addressing those. Here are my top 4 “Aha!” moments while reading Field Tested-Recruiting, Managing, and Retaining Veterans.
#1 Put yourself in their shoes
This was the single best explanation for how a veteran must feel when they join the private sector that I’ve ever come across. Basically, the author asks you to imagine that you take a job in a private employer and work there for twenty years. Then, you retire from that company and go to work for the military. Imagine the chaos and difficulty of trying to navigate the landscape of an entirely different organization and culture. That is how veterans feel when they come to work for us after completing a military career.
When I was ten my baseball career went to heck. It was like someone threw a switch between my previously awesome self and my new terrible self.
I couldn’t hit. My throws were off. Neither I, my parents, nor my coach could figure out what the issue was.
Then I found out I needed glasses.
It was like a miracle to be able to see clearly again. When people ask me why I didn’t get glasses sooner I reply that at the time I thought everyone saw that way.
That’s a powerful message in more than one way, so I’ll say it again. I thought everyone saw the same way I did.
Before you assume something about a person, take a moment to reflect. Maybe you see things one way and just can’t understand why someone else doesn’t see as “clearly” as you.
Backgrounds, culture, and other factors can dramatically influence how someone behaves or responds to situations. Be conscious of that. You will be a better leader, employee, and friend for it.
This post isn’t here to make you feel like you’ve done something wrong. I need the reminder just as much as anyone else that we’re all different and that can be a powerful tool if we use it well.