Military Success Trait – Feedback

Military-experienced personnel are accustomed to receiving feedback. The military has ingrained a continuous improvement mindset that takes advantage of reviewing and renewing. When they conduct an operation, evolution or a causality drill, they immediately review their performance.

Military Success Trait - FeedbackIt’s not to pass out blame but rather identify weaknesses in processes, equipment, execution, etc. The undisputed champion of innovation is trial and error. Being allowed to fail without being deemed a failure is part of a military leader’s DNA and another military success trait – feedback.

A comment I sometimes hear from recent military hires is that they are unsure how they are performing in their new civilian role. This is probably indicative of the civilian world, that is, there is not the same culture of feedback as there is in the military, certainly not to the same level of frequency and candor.

The interesting part is that this lack of feedback is not just one way. Frequently, the prior military personnel I’ve spoken with have identified an area of opportunity or weakness in their new civilian setting, but they haven’t experienced the occasion or invitation to communicate it. Their tendency is to hold on to the information as the “new guy”.

Other companies have a continuous improvement mindset as well as a culture of candid communication. They have likewise adopted performance-focused processes and procedures. They can work off of a roadmap but have a plan that is honed through trial and error. Military -experienced personnel deliver even more value, from day one, in this type of environment because it’s one they are used to.

Is your culture one of communication and improvement?

View all of the Military Success Traits series.

Bobby Whitehouse

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Military Success Trait – Culture

In Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage, the author discusses how the customs and approach of a team, their culture, can be the competitive advantage in modern business. That is, marketing, strategy and execution are only as effective as the team that is doing the work. Dysfunctional teams lose their effectiveness in the noise of their bad culture.

Military Success Traits - CultureAs I assist military job seekers with finding civilian careers every day, I see a similar attribute as a military success trait – culture. Military leaders are taught to build winning teams. They do the best with who they have and motivate from the middle. They help B-players become A-players and keep A-players challenged. They accomplish this through value-focused leadership that builds performance through culture.

Culture is a force multiplier. Building a team that cares about each other and the accomplishment of their objectives – whether in business or in the military – will result in a group that outperforms perhaps more advantaged teams who don’t have the same culture strengths and get stuck in bureaucracy or turmoil.

Ever ask a veteran why they did what they did? Most did “it” for their teammates. That’s culture.

View all of the Military Success Traits series.

Bobby Whitehouse

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Why is military to civilian skills matching so important?

Turnover is expensive. The estimated costs vary but it is a business disrupter that most companies want to reduce. The most damaging turnover occurs in the employee’s first year when a company is heavily investing in the employee’s training and onboarding but the employee’s business impact is not fully realized.

military to civilian skills matchingSo when I learned about a negative report regarding veteran retention, it got my attention knowing that first year performance is so important to employers who are hirers of military.

According to the VetAdvisor/Syracuse University report, 65% of veterans are likely to leave their first civilian job in under two years. One reason mentioned is poor military to civilian skills matching.

Matching is a critical step, and not just for skill set – also for goals, growth, career path, purpose and culture – they are all part of the equation.

This is critical area of value for Bradley-Morris, Inc. clients as we utilize patented military to civilian skills matching software, combine it with more than two decades of real world position matching successes and back it up with a guarantee.

Whether you leverage your internal resources or a recruiter such as Bradley-Morris, successful military to civilian skills matching will produce a win-win offer for the candidate and a long-term high-performer for the employer.

Bobby Whitehouse

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P.S. In contrast, what is your experience with civilian retention? This survey says that only 26% of green grads (arguably in a similar situation as military/veterans, i.e., in their initial civilian job) stay in their first job for a year. Perhaps the report about veteran retention warrants a positive spin instead? Let me know what you think.

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Military Success Traits – Communication

One of the first skills I was taught in the Navy was to repeat back all orders. It’s another of the military success traits – communication. Repeat back the order to insure the proper instruction or guidance was received. It works.

Military Success Traits - CommunicationThis is a military success trait that has served me well throughout my professional career. When I am talking with a client, I repeat back the information discussed and make sure that I clearly understand exactly what was said. It has proven to be invaluable.

With modern communication, email and voice mail, returning communication accurately and promptly is a stand-out quality – if for no other reason than to communicate that I received your message and I am addressing it.

Alas, this is not a common trait in the workforce today. Many people do not return emails or calls unless it is important to them. Or they assume that the message was received and go on. Or they are so distracted by peers, web sites, phone calls, apps, etc., that they totally miss it. This can be a costly mistake. One of the best parts of working with military-experienced talent is that they understand the importance of good communication.

How important is communication in your organization?

Bobby Whitehouse

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Military Success Traits – Discipline

In this post, I’d like to discuss one of the most well-known military success traits – discipline. A disciplined-mind is goal-focused, organized and Military Success Traits – Disciplineable to “nug through” difficult tasks. A disciplined body is healthy, fit and ready to get to work. Developing a disciplined mind and body isn’t exclusive to the military, but the military will throw you into the deep end of the discipline pool.

Further, the military success trait of discipline is a core leadership quality. Being the example of decorum, character and personal appearance are the qualities that lead to promotions in the military as well as at most companies. As business leaders look to their companies’ future and seek to build bench strength with the next generation of leaders, discipline may not be an obvious category to prioritize, but rest assured is is at the root of several other desired virtues.

Jack Welch’s GE, the best known “leadership company”, elevated leaders based on their 4 E’s and a P – Energy, Energizing Others, Edge, Execution and Passion – all discipline-based qualities. Does your business value discipline?

Bobby Whitehouse

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5 Tips from World Class Teams for Recruiting Military

As the days of summer begin to wane, leaves will soon drop from the trees in the fall and the seasons will change. A sure sign of the new hiring season is the competitiveness around employment offers and the increase of employers seeking hiring assistance. The war for talent is 5 tips from world class teams for recruiting militaryheating up. If you are not yet seeing it rest assured it is coming. If you are truly committed to hiring top talent, it is time to play to win. Here are 5 tips from world class teams for recruiting military.

1). Bring your hiring manager into the interview process early. “A”-players are ready to get down to business and are not going to have an “A”-impression if facing a cumbersome process of multi-level interviews stretching over weeks. Quickly define the challenges of the position, match skills and get the hiring manager into the conversation quickly as part of the initial interview. Some hiring managers get this intuitively, and they have an advantage over HR recruiters who need to convince their decision maker to invest in some talk time up front.

2). Define a career plan for your top performers. “A”-players understand that any deal is pending on their delivering top performance once in the job. We are coming out of a “season” of under promising. It is time to let your top talent know where they are needed long term. Most companies are in a serious need of middle-managers and are sitting on an average of 25% upcoming retirement. Have a plan to verbalize a career ladder for your top recruits or risk losing them to another organization that does.

3). WOO (Win Over Others) involved in their decision. “A”-players are decisive, but it never hurts to win over the entire family. Especially if they are relocating to your area. Have them all out for a tour. While the candidate is interviewing, have a local realtor show the family around town. Have dinner with spouses. It helps you learn a lot about them as well as build a stronger bond. And it helps to have the entire family onboard with the decision.

4). Be decisive on offers. If the interview went well have an offer ready to go before your targeted job seeker leaves, even if it’s a verbal offer with a hand shake. One of my favorite clients has the candidates meet with the CEO at the end of their interview day. If they made it to this meeting, the job seeker is getting an offer. As you might expect, the CEO’s close ratio is through the roof.

5). Tap your talent network. Since 2001, I have nurtured a network of exceptional military-experienced talent that I have been fortunate enough to place in Corporate America. In addition to the great friendships and their insights into military-to-civilian transition, these men and women are my go-to resource for referrals. They deliver countless “A”-players to Bradley-Morris.

The season is changing and some would argue that we are already in an employee’s market. Unemployment numbers are going down and job postings are on the rise. Candidates are getting multiple offers, and the salaries and perks are increasing. Offers declined are also up. Are you and your team ready for the new hiring season?

Bobby Whitehouse

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Where do top performing military job seekers come from?

It was so exciting to attend my daughter’s first High School academic achievement function. As a current Freshman, she received her academic letter Where do top performing military job seekers come from?signifying honor roll achievement. I noticed as the Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors were acknowledged, the group shrank significantly – indicating how difficult it is to sustain this type of performance. My daughter has her work cut out for her!

I also noted when the appointments to West Point and the Air Force Academy were recognized. There were three, and these Seniors received several additional top academic honors. They were some of the few that were able to sustain their scholastic record – academic high school “Rock Stars” going to the U.S. Service Academies. When employers ask me, “Where do top performing military job seekers come from?“, it’s at high schools like this one. I’m not sure I had connected the dots quite like this before.

We describe military-experienced talent as the Best and Brightest, Blue Chip and Top-Performing. The truth is that these selectees are in the top 5%, academics and athletics, of our communities’ high schools. Employers who are committed to the business benefits of hiring top performing military job seekers are reaching this caliber of talent regularly.

Bobby Whitehouse

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Starting a Military Hiring Program – Is Hiring Veterans Competitive?

It’s great witness the “tipping point” regarding starting a military hiring program. When I began work at BMI in 2001, most companies I talked to had no plans to hire military. I’ll still run across a company not seeking military from time to time, but they’re now an outlier.

After reading Krista Williams’ recent post on, You’ve Been Asked to Start a Military Hiring Program. Now what? , it Starting a Military Hiring Programwas refreshing to reflect on how far recruiting attitudes toward a military hiring program have evolved. Yes, the military-experienced talent pool represents some of America’s best and brightest. Yes, winning in business is about fielding the best team, and yes, hiring military-experienced talent is not charity. Ask Amazon or General Electric. They both own great military hiring programs and are very good at achieving top hires.

But I have one quibble with the post and that’s toward the end where she writes, “Veteran hiring is not competitive…” In the context of the paragraph regarding how important it is to get a military hiring program started on the right foot, this phrase sticks out. As a matter of fact, this could be the main reason to have a solid military hiring program: because veteran hiring is in fact so competitive.

Where I live, on the leading edge of military-experienced talent, the best of the best candidates have 10-20 companies vying for their services before they even transition out of the service – competition is intense. And with more veteran hiring programs popping up all the time, the competition will only increase. That’s where I earn my stripes, so to speak, helping employers win this top talent and providing a high return on investment. If you are hiring military to win in business, roll up your sleeves and get ready to work. Krista makes great points but on the subject of “competition”, I’d have to disagree.

Bobby Whitehouse

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How does military experience bridge the skills gap?

The skills gap is one of the most talked about trends in hiring. Talent acquisition professionals are scrambling to find the right candidate in a How does military experience bridge the skills gapskills biased market. Are you losing to your business competitors because you can’t find the skills to grow your business? If you’ve considered veterans as a solution, you might ask yourself, “How does military experience bridge the skills gap?”

Most specialized skills are transferable. In 2002, I began working with William “Bill” Bartlett, then CEO, Callidus Technologies, when he had the vision to hire JMOs (Junior Military Officers) as Engineering Project Managers. These men and women successfully leveraged their military leadership and engineering experience as Project Managers in the specialized world of Industrial Burners and Flairs. Some Callidus leaders embraced the idea and built an abridged education on the specifics of their business. Other hiring managers were skeptical and fell behind as the specialized skills they sought were not available. The skeptics soon embraced these military-experienced project engineers as they became the top performers in the company. In 2008, Honeywell purchased Callidus in part because of their middle-management bench strength.

General Electric populated their Six Sigma movement with JMOs and the JMOs’ consistent success in Project Engineer roles is not a coincidence. JMOs are the construction managers who build facilities, the engineering leaders on nuclear submarines and the aircraft maintenance managers on aircraft carriers and flight lines. They work with contractors, oftentimes having to negotiate complicated communication barriers. They are the military’s middle-managers who execute the plan of the day through people.

What has your experience been with JMO Project Engineers?

Bobby Whitehouse

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Military Success Traits – Benevolence

Benevolence may not seem like one of the military success traits at first glance, but consider all of the humanitarian missions military success traits benevolenceconducted by the U.S. military at home and abroad. Examples of military compassion abound online and in the news. Our service members are good people who care about the well-being of others.

There are hundreds of military charities, scholarships and relief organizations as well as non-profits founded by former military. Jacob Wood and William McNulty, two former U.S. Marines, created Team Rubicon and now organize teams of veterans for humanitarian relief. Service is to serve. Wood and McNulty are CNN Heroes .

Empathy towards others drives compassion which makes stronger teams. Succeeding for the person on your right and your left is much more powerful than succeeding for yourself.

Benevolence is a key ingredient for winning in business. Is benevolence in your corporate DNA?

Bobby Whitehouse

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