How Leaders Can Help Veterans Adjust to a Civilian Office – Ryan Ayers

mickyates Inspiration, Leader, leadership, Organization, Teams 0 Comments

About 9 percent of the US civilian population is made up of veterans – ex-military personnel from all conflicts and branches of the military. Being an active duty service member is very different from leading a life as a civilian. Even though all ex-military personnel had their own lives before joining, readjusting to the life of a civilian can be challenging both personally and professionally.

Leaders need to understand these challenges in order to hire and lead veterans successfully. These challenges start even before the interview—many retired service members have not had to write a resume or interview in years, if ever, which can make evaluation difficult for employers. Veterans possess many valuable skills that can be an asset in the workplace, but to really recognize and leverage these skills, managers and leaders need to be willing to support and accommodate employees in the transition back to civilian life. If you’re welcoming veterans into your office, here are some ways you can help make the adjustment process easier.

Be Patient and Transparent

Patience is key in ensuring that veterans successfully adapt to the civilian workforce. Not all of the 250,000 people who leave the military each year have trouble adapting, but a good percentage of them do – about 27% of all US veterans and 44% of post 9-11 veterans. The most important thing to remember about managing ex-military personnel is that they may not have some of the knowledge you take for granted from other new employees. They may never have worked in an office, and may be unfamiliar with the cultural nuances that exist in an office environment. If you notice confusion or uncertainly, encourage questions and be open and transparent about how the office functions.

Don’t Single Veterans Out or Subscribe to Harmful Stereotypes

We all have cultural biases that can prevent us from treating every employee fairly. Unfortunately, there are many stereotypes that affect all veterans—even though veterans have diverse backgrounds and experiences, just like the rest of the population. Don’t stereotype or pigeonhole veterans—they are more than their service, and have different personalities.

One of the most harmful stereotype about veterans in the workplace concerns mental illness – 46% of US hiring managers believed that PTSD and mental illness were concerns about hiring veterans. Not all veterans struggle with these challenges, and even those that do are not defined by them and it may not even affect their work. Encourage employees to socialize and welcome all new team members, regardless of background.

Work with Veterans to Establish Processes

Many veterans are used to working in high-pressure situations, requiring them to think quickly and follow processes and protocols. They’re used to following rules and structure, which may not always be the norm in the modern office. While civilian employees may feel micromanaged with too much structure, veterans are used to this model and often thrive within it. If your veteran employees struggle with unstructured workflows, adapt to their style and work out a more formal structure they can use to be productive (but micromanaging still isn’t appropriate). Clearly outline what needs to be done and why—what are the goals and how do you expect the team to get there?

Use Alternative Evaluation Methods

Depending on your company, you’ll have differing methods for employee evaluation. While some veterans have no trouble showcasing their productivity through these methods, you may need to tweak your evaluation methods in some cases. Just as standardized tests don’t always give a clear picture of student achievement, your evaluation methods may not showcase your employees’ real contributions. Consider thinking outside the box and adapting your evaluation methods to suit employee needs.

Use the Resources Available to You

Not sure how to make veterans in your office feel comfortable? If you ever need guidance, there are many resources available for employers to help veterans find success in the civilian workplace. The US Department of Veteran Affairs has a wealth of resources available on their website for helping to understand challenges veterans face, and how to help ease those challenges.

Encourage Questions and Open Communication

Going back to the first point, questions and communications are the key to preventing misunderstandings and helping veterans feel comfortable in a civilian office. Assigning a mentor new employees can go to with questions can help veterans integrate and get the information they need, although you should always be a resource for them. Be open, and be ready to work with your employees on challenges that may arise—that will help them to remain comfortable and acclimate for a long term, productive role within your company.

How to Say “No” and Keep Inspiring Your Team – Irene Kot

mickyates Communication, Leader, leadership, Teams 0 Comments

Probably every leader wants to support his team by saying ‘Yes’, but a wise leader must be able to say ‘No’ to workers without shutting them off. If you are afraid of discouraging your staff, keep in mind that no one ever went broke by saying ‘No’ too often, as Harvey McKay would say. So, at least the financial matter won’t be an issue.

Here are 8 steps of learning to say “No” and stay a top performer of the team.

  1. Listen Carefully and Always Think Through

Sometimes the lack of understanding can make one accept hasty decisions. Before you agree to your team’s initiative or suggestion, think over those ideas and the consequences. Only after that your ‘No’ will seem a shrewd decision to the employees and will prove your competence.

  1. Take Time to Take Decisions

To show that you are listening to the team’s requests and taking them seriously, don’t rule on anything immediately. Time will help you work out the issue. When thinking over, imagine the outcome in case of the positive and negative answer. Perhaps you will even be able to come up with an alternative.

  1. Explore Other Options

If you feel like ‘No’ is already building up inside of you, take a step back and consider your team’s initial purpose. Understand what motivated them to make this request from you. Invite the personnel to a brainstorming session and find different options together. This way you will stand by your beliefs and will say ‘Yes’ to an alternative.

  1. Communicate with Your Team

Sometimes you have no other choice but say ‘No.’ Explain to them why you feel the way you do. Seeing how serious you have taken the situation, they will understand your judgment.

Unless your employees listen to the reason, ask them to support you with this specific matter. Elaborate why their way is wrong and how to make it right in the future. Accept the future possibility of the positive answer if some aspects change.

  1. Support Your Team’s Future Requests

Explain your team that if you refused the idea this time, it is OK for them to trust you in the future with other requests and concerns. Remind them that you work for the same company and you all want it to grow and develop. That’s why they are welcome to come to you with their ideas and projects and you will collaborate to make them work.

  1. Support Contributions and Contribute Yourself

Don’t just wait for the employees to come to you with their demands. Ask their opinions on different matters and help them increase their input to the company’s well-being. This way, all of your decisions and reactions, whether it is saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ will be received as considerate.

  1. Use the “No-Sandwich” Approach

If you have followed all the steps above precisely, you are now confident in stating your reason and defending your position. In order for the employees to feel positive about their contribution next time, declare your decision in a “no-sandwich”. First, acknowledge your gratitude for the employee’s participation. Then, justify your negative answer. Finally, praise and encourage further intention of bettering the working process.

  1. Always Have an Open Dialogue

As mentioned before, you can suggest your employees going back to their application later. This way they will see the business aspect of the matter and why now is not a good time to fulfill their demand. Also, you will inspire open discussions and negotiations, thus motivating them to progress and go forward.

Do not try to win everyone over. Be open to the suggestions of your people and, when there is such an opportunity, implement them. If they do not agree with you and in the end convince you of their rightness, support their ideas as you would like them to support yours.

Saying “No” is a tricky skill to learn. Many leaders fear to earn the bad reputation or the image of a poor headman. However, once having managed to refuse wisely you will earn people’s respect and esteem. Saying no can also help in your personal life, thus giving new-found freedom and alternative methods of problems solving.

Bio: Irene Kot is a happy mother, wife and an inspiring blogger. Her major is financing, and being a mom is a calling.
Her lifestyle Irene Kot Blog centers around one question: how to combine the mode of life, family, personal interests altogether and make everything easier, more interesting and fun?