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.
#2 Boot camp (you need one)
All military members go through some sort of extensive, uniform training. They learn side-by-side and know that their peers are learning the same skills and abilities. Using a uniform orientation process to introduce culture aspects of the organization is a great way to help new hires feel more comfortable about their role. Click here for more on defining corporate culture for new hires.
#3 The “how” of work matters
The biggest lesson I’ve had to learn as a results-driven person is that, in the civilian world, how you accomplish something is as important as the merit of the accomplishment itself. I went from being an infantry captain in the Marine Corps to being the only male in an all-female HR department… I was bound to make a few mistakes. -Former USMC Officer
I’ve talked before on the “how” of work versus what is being accomplished.
#4 Individualistic vs conformist cultures
The author talks a little about how the military enforces a conformist culture in order to reproduce the same results from its soldiers over and over again. However, in a corporate setting, the opposite is encouraged. Individuals are accepted and encouraged to focus on their strengths, and they also are allowed to use creativity when resolving problems they face. Those are opposite ends of the spectrum, and making the instant switch when someone moves into civilian life is yet another hurdle our veterans face in their day-to-day existence.
If you’re considering recruiting veterans (or you already do), this book is a great resource for those of us with no military experience to draw upon. I already have started thinking in different ways in order to better meet the needs of our employees who are former military service members. Check it out!