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Focus on these things to succeed in Managing Junior Military Officers

Six Steps Managers Need To Follow When Hiring Junior Military Officers


Many private sector companies actively seek out Junior Military Officers to fill employment opportunities. They hire them into their leadership programs and management positions with a great deal of confidence that they will bring a unique skill set and accelerated management experience to strengthen their organization. These individuals can walk into a leadership or management role, learn quickly, make decisions and move forward with confidence. Their transition, however, can be personally challenging due to cultural differences between the military and private sectors. Employers must take this into consideration when bringing them on-board and offer different development support for these individuals.  Ex-Military bring an unprecedented level of management experience that is not seen in the private sector, bridging the gap between the two worlds is difficult and crucial to mutual success.  Here are Six Steps managers need to follow in order to ensure a successful transition for their new employee, as well as reap the benefits of our country’s unique talent pool.


ONE: Set clear milestone and end game objectives.

These individuals have a great education and several years of complex experience behind them.  They spent months, often years, training before getting orders sending them off to some remote part of the world to communicate with the natives and build water systems, schools, etc...  They went off on their own and accomplished great things with the teams they trained and led.  Imagine coming from that environment, then being hired by you and not getting any feedback as to what they should be accomplishing.  Having weekly meetings to discuss business, without clear, individualized short and long term objectives can be incredibly frustrating for these individuals.  They are there to accomplish, to lead, to get the job done, but they don’t have the experience in your industry, they need dialog, they need direction up front…once you create these clear objectives, let them run with it; they won’t let you down.


TWO: Proactively walk them through office politics.

Office politics are never easy for anyone to understand.  Unlike typical professionals who have years of experience dealing with politics prior reaching the level of manager, Ex-Military Officers have no experience with office politics.  They are used to everyone being on the same page, understanding the desired result and going forward to achieve their part of the big picture.  This is not often the case in the private sector when personalities and power struggles play a much larger role than anyone would like.  If you want to avoid confusion and frustration, and get what you want accomplished…take the time to sit down with your employee and explain the political climate in detail.  If you don’t, your employee will be increasingly frustrated and alienated; they are accustomed to camaraderie, not competition.  Make sure this is not a one-time discussion.  Follow up and discuss their experiences, give advice and let them know you support them.


THREE: Delegate and let them lead.

In the military, trained leadership is essential because team members are random, brought together only by a common bond.   In the civilian world, people compete to be on the team and only good leadership creates the bond.  Image how far a trained leader can take a team in the civilian world.  Leadership skills are unique and valuable since most civilian leaders have not had formal leadership training; take advantage of their skills.  Set their objective and give them the authority to make it happen.  Allow them teach others in your organization about their unique leadership skills.  It is a great way to integrate them into the team.


FOUR: Set parameters for decision-making and follow-up.

These individuals are not shy about making decisions and moving forward quickly.  Depending on the structure of your organization, this approach may lead to complications especially if a matrix structure exists. Take the time to explain the buy-in process for decision making if it involves other departments in the company, or other management levels.  Make it clear when you want to get involved in approvals and what authority your employee has. 


FIVE: Provide six and twelve month reviews.

In the military, people are formally reviewed every few months.  There is constant feedback and a sense that everyone is on the same page.  Filling out a form for human resources is not enough with these individuals.  Give them constructive feedback, discuss goals and take the time to listen to, and help them, with their concerns.


SIX: Support their need to reach out to other veterans.

Transitioning to life in the corporate world is a big challenge.  One of the best ways to understand it and ensure they don’t feel isolated is to encourage them to reach out to others like them.  ManagingAmericans.com is one way to do that.  They can share their challenges and learn from experiences of others.  Another way is to establish a support group within your organization of ex-military employees.  It can be a monthly or quarterly training session or lunch.  The company can task the group with a management issue to get their unique perspective.


Do you have a veteran’s program in your company?  It is not enough to hire this talent, you need to guide them and give them the corporate tools to bring their talents into their new world.  We have two communities available for you on ManagingAmerians.com.  The first is ‘Managing Junior Military Officers’ created to help bridge the culture gap and provide an outlet for learning and discussion for employers that want to take advantage of the highly qualified and experienced Ex-Military Officer workforce.  The second is called ‘Transitioned Military Officer’ designed to provide a forum for advice and collaboration.  It is a network of military professionals that providing credible information, supportive communities and in-depth reference materials about professions and professional development that matter to former military officers. Please take the time to understand your employees and participate in our discussions.  If you are a manager that sees value in this information, please share our article with your organization. 


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I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life.  Test out these concepts and share your results with us.  Others can benefit from your experiences.  Good luck!


Written by Lisa Woods,

President ManagingAmericans.com


Do you manage your veteran employees with the same style as your other employees?