Challenges Among Military-Trained and Non-Military-Trained Personnel at the Workplace

March 10th, 2022 by dayat No comments »

Do you work with a team of military-trained personnel and non-military who are constantly disagreeing and arguing? Do you feel as if you do not understand each other? Do you feel as if you cannot get anything accomplished because you spend more time arguing than achieving a mutual goal?

The President’s Veterans Employment Initiative “created a one-stop website resource for Federal veteran employment information… the information is designed to ensure veterans, transitioning service members, and their families receive accurate and consistent information regarding veteran employment in the Federal Government” (USAJOBS). The initiative of recruiting and training veterans is great; we also need to train both the military-trained personnel and the non-military-trained on how to work as a team and understand each other.

Prior Military Personnel: The transition from active duty to the civilian workforce could be difficult. Your leadership, training, dedication, sense of duty and technical skills are admirable and in high demand. You were trained to follow, give orders, and lead others. Unfortunately, if your role in the civilian workforce is not to lead, you could be frustrated because you are not ready to give up power or authority of being in charge and making things happen without supervisory direction. You could have a difficult time transitioning from being the leader to being led. You might consider yourself the subject matter expert, using the “how we used to do it” or “how it used to be done.” You might get frustrated because the civilian personnel do not move at your same speed and sometimes they don’t even understand what you are saying. Remember, the “transition and readjustment process does not mean you give up being a warrior, but rather learn to dial up or down your warrior responses depending on what’s happening around you, always adapting to the environment you find yourself in” (Hoge 2010). A few recommendations for a more suitable transition and relationship with your peers include:

* Speak with the person with whom you miscommunicating and with whom you conflict. If that does not work,
* Speak with your supervisor to discuss your frustrations. If you do not trust or feel comfortable speaking with your supervisor,
* Seek guidance from the Office of Human Resources or
* Visit your nearest Veteran Service Office

Useful sources:

* Seeking employment. Visit the FEDSHIREVETS or the USAJobs website.
* Further your education. You may use your GI Bill to pay for school. Visit the GI Bill website
* Understand yourself. Read the book, Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior.
* Recognize your possible emotional distress by visiting the veterans crisis line site.

Civilian Personnel: You might think that the prior-military employees are cold and authoritarian. They like to give orders and expect things to be done their way. You might not understand their terminologies and despise their unwillingness to adapt to the civilian workforce. You might think that prior-military personnel expectations are unrealistic. They work at a faster pace and expect you to do the same. This might frustrate you because everyone works at a different pace. In addition, you might feel resentful thinking that prior-military personnel demand special treatment, respect and recognition: something you think you are forced to give. Most people are afraid of what they don’t understand. Get to know your peers, including former military personnel. A few recommendations to a more suitable situation include

* Speak with the person with whom you are having trouble. Tell the person how you feel. You might be surprised to find out that both of you are frustrated with each other. If that does not work,
* Speak with your supervisor to discuss your frustration. If you do not trust or feel comfortable speaking with your supervisor,
* Reach out to the Office of Human Resources. They might have readjustment training for both prior-military and civilian personnel. If they don’t, request it. You would be helping yourself and others.
* Seek outside help (e.g. a career counselor).

Upper Management: Recognize the root of the problem and identify trends. There will always be conflict at the workplace, but identifying the root of the problem could help you create a system to develop your team and minimize collateral damage within your organization. Some of the most common complaints among teams of prior-military and civilian personnel include

Communication: Prior-military personnel are accustomed to using military time (e.g. 1300, 1600, 2200 versus 1 pm or 6 am). They might still use military words or acronyms (e.g. battle planning, battle field, battle rhythm). They also go by the book; if it’s not written, it does not exist. The challenge with this approach is that if the civilian employees are not accustomed to using those terminologies, or do not understand the concepts, they could be resentful and frustrated, especially if the prior-military personnel are not receptive to using civilian terminologies. Develop a culture to address conflict and miscommunication issues.

Career and Personal Development: If you are not doing so already, meet one on one with your personnel. Identify who among your team needs more coaching and coach them on how they could be more successful in the organization. “Society believes that a warrior should be able to transition to home and live a “normal” life, but the reality is that most of society has no clue what it means to be a warrior” (Hoge 2010). One on one coaching could help you to get to know your employees and better help them.

Bias: Your role as a supervisor is to lead and influence. Make sure you don’t play favorites with your employees. Most importantly, you need to be confident in your leadership and work ethics. If you think that your employees are working against you or feel threatened by their initiative and skills, you will not lead well. Trying to show your employees “who is in charge” will not fix the issues. Do not hold on to knowledge in order to keep job security; instead, delegate to, train, and mentor your employees.

Seek Professional Help: You have a responsibility to your employer and your employees. If you have tried to build harmony among your employees and your attempts have been unsuccessful, consult with the Office of Human Resources for guidance. They might have a transition training program for both the prior-military and civilian personnel. They should be able to help you know what to expect when you hire prior-military personnel and how to help them work with you versus feeling like they are working against you. If the Office of Human Resources does not have a transitioning program for the military personnel, recommend starting one. You will be helping your current and future employees. A reason to recommend a transitioning program to HR is mentioned by Bonnie M. Vest: “the civilian and military cultures are in many ways directly oppositional to each other in terms of their values and structure, creating barriers to the reconciliation of the two” (Vest 2012, 2); therefore, you can help your employees better if you understand both the civilian and the military culture. Remember, “most prior military personnel are more independent, but this may make it difficult to tolerate authority at work” (Hoge 2010). Your responsibility as a leader is to understand your employees; this will help you lead them better. A good start is the book Once a Warrior Always a Warrior by Charles W. Hoge

Jealousy, resentment, and miscommunication at the workforce will hinder your organization and development. Both the employer and the employee need to understand the best practices of working with a team of both prior-military and civilian personnel. We all have a responsibility to make our workplace a more enjoyable and stress-free environment. The initiative to end conflict and misunderstanding at the workplace starts with you and me.