Posted by request from readers
Excerpted from “Field Tested: Recruiting, Managing & Retaining Veterans” by Emily King (AMACOM 2012)
“I keep a live survey open online that continually updates data on the military transition experience, and I’ve noticed an interesting dynamic. There is a survey question that asks service members to rate their readiness for the business world along a number of dimensions such as business acumen, sales and business development, cultural transition, etc. Respondents are sorted into two categories: officers preparing to leave military service (Group A), and retired officers who have already made the transition to civilian employment (Group B). Group A is asked to anticipate and Group B is asked to recall with the wisdom of hindsight as they answer their respective version of the question.
Interestingly, Group A – consisting of those anticipating the transition – has a higher level of confidence in its readiness than Group B – consisting of those asked to recall how ready they actually were upon leaving service. Among the group lacking civilian experience, no one reported having “no knowledge” (or, put another way, all reported some level of knowledge) of the areas queried. Further, several in this group assessed their knowledge at the “expert” level.
In contrast, some in the group of experienced civilians reported leaving the military with no knowledge at all, and no one in this group [B] said they came in as an expert.
My interpretation of these findings is that there exists a gap in perceived and actual readiness for the civilian business world. Practically speaking, this illustrates what so many veterans have told me: ‘I didn’t know what I didn’t know.’“
These results amplify findings from my 2001 Masters Thesis, which pointed out the risks and impacts to business of failing to provide specialized on-boarding to leaders coming directly from active duty military service. Most organizations I speak to are focused on recruiting and hiring veterans, which is great. It has always been my premise that retention starts with recruiting, and on-boarding is an important driver of early engagement.
However, the smart forward-thinking organization understands the importance of a smooth transition for leaders, and think beyond hiring to on-boarding. Where is your organization on the spectrum of readiness to retain veterans?
For information about our Veteran On-Boarding Programs for leaders and staff at large, please contact me directly at Emily@bullergroup.com.