Have you ever walked into an uncertain environment like your first day of college, a cocktail party, or even your new job and felt those first moments of anxiety? How about getting stuck on a project at work but not knowing who to ask for help? Or simply feeling out of place because there was no one in your office whom you felt a bond with?
I’m confident we’ve all have had similar life experiences to the ones above. Yet, this feeling is even more pronounced to those of us who have spent time in the military because as we shift to a corporate environment, what has become comfortable and normal to us now does not exist.
I remember when I first left active duty only three months upon returning from Iraq; I’d be sitting at a restaurant with my wife or wandering around the executive suites of downtown Minneapolis wondering where I fit in….right then I wished I had my body armor on, my rifle in hand, and my helmet strapped to my chin. It wasn’t that I was physically scared, rather it was due to the comfort you have when you are in a known environment.
How many times has a company lost worker productivity to some unknown personal factor? After leading teams for most of my adult life, I can say with much certainty that the when there is a failure in performance, many times there are external issues interfering with the individual’s work.
So how can we leverage a veteran’s desire to belong to a team to help mitigate those personal factors?
In a recent New York Post article, Genesis10 CEO Harley Lippman discusses the importance of having a battle buddy or someone you can implicitly count on. This is one of the greatest aspects of hiring a service member, and hiring two at a time, the inherent trust in each other and desire to solve problems together with creates a much more powerful team.
The importance of building a cohort of veterans in your organization:
It is quite difficult, if not impossible to replicate the comradery that exists between service members who are working in harm’s way. Yet, there is a way to manifest this feeling in your organization by creating a dedicated, named, and most importantly ably led veterans programs at your company – a culture where the individual feels like they are a part of something greater than themselves, like a veterans program. Leveraging their shared experiences means that service members, who are put in a cohort status, are quick to assist each other out with technical questions, personal issues, or work problems making them more productive, less likely to turnover and with higher morale.