Last week I gave a presentation to 160 Human Resource professionals from civilian organizations. The subject of the workshop was thinking strategically about hiring and retaining veterans, and my presentation in particular focusd on creating an inclusive workplace.
I was talking about the difference between strong and weak cultures, defining a strong culture as one that can be easily described in a few words or sentences and a weak culture as one that cannot be easily described in a few words or sentences. Culture, of course, referred to an organization's personality; how things really get done and get rewarded rather than what's espoused to be done and rewarded.
It occurred to me to pose a question to the group: raise your hand if your organization's culture can be described in a few words or phrases. After initial laughter, maybe three people raised their hand. I followed with this request: raise your hand if the military culture can be described in a few words or phrases. What do you think happened? A sea of hands were raised. That, I said, is the entire point. That is why military-to-civilian transition can be challenging and why you, the employer, need to become translators of culture rather than expecting veterans to figure everything out in real time.
Hopefully some eyes were opened.