I decided to write this article based on the typical behaviour of the new entitled generation or “snowflakes” that are now in the workplace, giving managers like me a hard time. In my current role I am actively employing veterans and demonstrating the terrific benifits.
I want to champion the benefits of employing a veteran.
To keep things straight, I write this from the point of a non-commissioned officer such as I was, and not a commissioned officer. Also, most of my comments are based on the UK military but having some close friends that are veterans from around the world, I see this as a global message employers need to listen to.
The training in the military is second to none, especially in the technical trades. The servicemen will be using and repairing equipment that has not even become available in the technological marketplace, and some companies will often use the military to develop and test new technologies.
At the same time, military personnel are using and repairing this equipment they are also engaged in their main duties as a soldier, a sailor, or airmen.
Generally, on entry into the military, they will complete basic training. This is where they are trained to be a soldier and learn discipline, amongst other things. From here, they will go and complete trade training depending on what branch they have elected to go into. Then once complete, which could be as much as two or three years, they go to an active unit.
Here, and putting their skill set to use, they will also undergo continuous training and advancement.
After a number of years, a soldier, sailor or airman may decide to come out and look for a career as a civilian. They are highly trained and highly skilled with an incredible amount of experience.
So why do employers overlook this incredible resource, the chance to employ a veteran but choose a university graduate with generally no real-life experience outside of the education environment? These graduates are going to cost a great deal of time and money to get them to a good standard if you can keep hold of them long enough.
Employing Veterans who are Professionally Trained.
The serving men and women of the military must be at the top of their game. Above all the equipment used in the military is there for defence and thus there to save lives. If the personnel using and repairing the equipment fail to do their jobs, then people could die.
Personal pride is evident in the way they look after the equipment. This pride becomes personal, and they will take ownership of their area of responsibility.
Veterans know all about consequence and accept that there is always consequence in their actions. In the event of failure, they will put their hands in the air to accept responsibility and whatever consequence comes from this.
Invaluable Work Ethic and loyalty.
I mentioned above that veterans will generally take their work personally and with a great eye for detail complete every task allocated to them.
I have a huge issue in the civilian world with the way it seems acceptable that you can choose if and when you follow the direction of your managers. In the military, you follow the orders of your commanding officer verbatim. If you don’t like the orders, you follow them first and complain later.
In my job I look at the CEO as my commanding office and follow his directions as he and the board decree.
Civilians seem to have meetings to discuss these directives. Form committees to enable them to break these directives down into bite-size chunks again without completely adhering to the wishes of the CEO and board. Strange management fluff like “matrix” structures appear.
What we end up with is lots of meetings lots of people talking. Everyone thinking the issue is someone else’s responsibility enabling them to remove responsibility and consequence from themselves.
Too much talk will always aggravate a veteran especially if the talk is just going around in circles.
We are trained to make decisions. The only bad decision is one not taken. For me coming across managers who cannot and will not make a decision is mind-numbing.
Employing Veterans who are Adaptable.
Members of the military have to be adaptable. They have to be able to deal with whatever situation arises in a timely and effective manner. Therefore as part of a team, they will always throw their hat into the ring to help when the need arises.
Regardless of the situation and also regardless of if they are in uniform or not, the typical serving member or veteran will try and deal with the problem at hand. Currently, the only thing an average civilian will reach for is a phone to video it.
You never need to micromanage a veteran. They will always get the job done given the correct tools. Will let you know as soon as it is done. There is no need to sit on their shoulders watching the magic happen. Generally, if they come across a problem they will come to you. With the issue and a set of potential solutions for you to choose from.
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Employing a veteran is not always easy. We are very set in our ways and can be outspoken which can come across as arrogant and overbearing. Love the phrase “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. Will get aggravated with people who try to reinvent the wheel for no apparent purpose.
Getting the job done to the best of our abilities and having clear direction is normal. Also, we generally like to have one boss, so matrix management is completely alien.
What you do get though is someone who will be loyal to the company. Will take their job personally and protect their teams. In other words, you will never get a veteran phoning up a few hours after they are supposed to be at work saying, they are “taking a mental health day.”
Likewise, we don’t do group therapy. Unless it’s within the confines of the unit bar, and then only after consuming large amounts of alcohol.
In conclusion, employ a veteran, get a hard-working, loyal and instantly productive employee. Or surround yourself with meetings and committee members doing nothing productive.