Fostering Excellence
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If your company has hired a military veteran, odds are fair that you are happy to have him or her as a member of your team. Military advocates lobby hard to facilitate the entrance of veterans into the civilian sector, and often tout the benefits of having military veterans in your organization.

However, it is not uncommon that the promissory note remains unfilled, and all the human capital from your military veteran remains unactualized. The human capital is there, ready to be leveraged, but often skills are lost in translation between military jargon and business terminology. This can leave both employer and employee frustrated.

A better understanding of your employee’s military experience, and how it translates into business competencies can be helpful. Here are four critical competency areas that your military veteran employee almost certainly has:

Business Skills Your Military Employee Has That You Should Capitalize On

Stakeholder Management  Military members live and breathe stakeholder management, though they would not call it such. Military members not only constantly interface with internal stakeholders who control mundane things such as supplies, training facilities and purse strings, they also work up and down their leadership hierarchy to generate buy-in for, and execute training and operational plans.

Additionally, military members have extensive experience working with external stakeholders. Most will have deployed to combat zones, and as such, will have coordinated with their sister services and foreign allied militaries to conduct joint operations. Many will have had to coordinate with the local population in occupied foreign countries. Use those foreign liaison skills your military veteran has!

Scope Management – Your military veteran will have also had to tackle scope management issues on a regular basis. While not deployed overseas, she will have planned training exercises, conducting process reviews and implemented programs. While deployed, she will have conducted military operations on a constant basis. All of these activities require fundamental scope management skills that will have been exercised on a nearly daily for this veteran. Talk to your employee about how they can help you define and control the scope of your products and projects!

Risk Management This competency area almost goes without saying, military members constantly engage in risk management activities both in the United States and overseas. While the risks to military operations are different than the risks to businesses, the fundamentals of identifying and analyzing risk, and then deciding on how to best cope with that risk are applicable to both military and business problem sets. Involve your veteran in your companies risk management activities!

Time Management military members are chronically over-tasked and rarely given enough time to accomplish all of their requirements. As such, military members of necessity are trained to have excellent time management skills. These skills come to you finely honed and ready to enhance your business operations, use them!

There are other competencies your military veteran will have in addition to these. The best way to leverage all of their skill sets is to meet with them (best over lunch), have a good dialogue about their military history and identify common ground between his or her experience and the current needs of the organization. Break down that language barrier! In this way, your military veteran can best be leveraged to help your organization reach its potential and exceed its goals.

Michael Farr, PMP, is a Chief Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and founder of He is passionate about recognition and enabling professionals to motivate their organizations through recognizing their member’s excellence. When he is not slaying dragons with his kids, he can be found at @fosterxcellence on Twitter and @fosteringexcellence on Facebook.

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