Every May, we as Americans, have two particular opportunities to say “Thank you” to those who serve and have served in our nation’s armed forces.
This year, on Saturday, May 21st, we celebrated Armed Forces Day, a day on which we paid tribute to those who serve in our nation’s armed forces.
And on Monday, May 30th, we will commemorate Memorial Day, remembering those members of the armed forces who have paid, as we say, the ultimate price, having died during active military service.
As I write this, it strikes me that it is my job, on behalf of The Kaleidoscope Group, to write this article, this acknowledgment of these dates and the humbling sacrifices they represent. It also strikes me that it would be sufficient to highlight the fact that on a business landscape always desperate for effective leaders, 65% of active duty military have led teams of 100 people or more (Source: www.dod.mil). It also strikes me, however, that this particular message demands that I, (and please forgive the pun), go above and beyond the call of duty.
60% of veterans said they do not feel civilian employers understand the value they bring to an organization.
Source: Veterans Survey, 2016 – The Kaleidoscope Group
What point is there in honoring veterans on two days of the year, if they go under appreciated for the other 363?
Two days? That’s simply not enough…
For me, for many Americans and perhaps for you, when it comes to thanking those who took that courageous step forward… It’s personal.
While I have many family members who serve and have served in the military, it was my mother, who never served in the military, who first made me aware that the price paid by service members can be enormous and can take many shapes and sizes. She was a psychiatric nurse for the Veterans Administration.
Perhaps it was the memory of her decades of service that made me such an invested listener, at our last firm-wide retreat, when our own Glen Williams, a Naval Hospital Corpsman Veteran, laid out for the rapt room his project… his solution… his passion: A Soldier Without A Uniform
Though I don’t know all of my colleagues’ stories, I do know that it quickly became personal for many of them, too, as we discussed in depth, how KG could play a role in helping organizations recruit, retain, and leverage veteran talent. Who would know better than us, what profound impact veterans can have on an organization’s culture and ultimately, bottom line success? We were inspired by Glen’s passion, then and there. We have experienced the power of “Mission First” thinking, exemplified by our Senior Consultant, Gloria Woods, a Veteran Army Captain, as she gives of her entire self to be sure the client moves forward. And leadership? There, elbow to elbow with us at the table, was our CEO, Doug Harris, a Veteran Army Sergeant, whose unbelievable ability to engage across lines of difference drew many of us to KG and draws executives from around the globe to KG, too.
Here, at The Kaleidoscope Group, we experience the value of veterans firsthand, on a daily basis. So, on those two days of the year, as we are all thanking, let’s also be thinking. In terms of veterans, let’s put into “military” terms a couple things, individually and organizationally, we can do to say “Thank you” on the other 363 days:
- Pay attention. Veterans are out there and they want to bring their immense value to you. Will you recognize it? Take the time to educate those who do the hiring for your organization on how they can translate military skills and experience and match them to organizational responsibilities.
- Sample Action: Develop a military/civilian dictionary and share with the Talent Acquisition team to foster deeper understanding. The process will be improved both by a more precise understanding of what specific jobs require and an expanded vision of what potential candidates have to offer. We should all be seeking out the best talent. This project could be a simple, powerful step in that critical direction.
- Keep It Simple, Stupid. This harsh, but widely used expression of a simple idea is just one more reason to thank the next veteran you see. While big, bold initiatives can, obviously, change the course for an organization forever, there can also be great value in more modest, well-executed attempts to engage veteran talent you already have in your organization.
- Sample Action: Start a Veterans ERG (Employee Resource Group). By creating a space dedicated to engaging individuals who are interested in and/or impacted by veteran’s issues, organizations raise awareness around these issues, provide mentorship opportunities that drive superior performance in present roles, and, potentially, create an organizational resource that provides specific input on everything from recruiting to marketing to product development.
As a rule, organizations don’t burn cash in waste baskets to heat offices or order lunch for the entire organization and promptly toss it, untouched, into the dumpster out back. It would prove tough to turn a profit if we were that wasteful with our resources. Why then would we ignore specialized, often technical, training? Why would we cast aside intensive, leadership development? Why would we squander the value of our veterans?
The saying is “Leave no soldier behind.” Hopefully, going forward, we won’t. Hopefully, going forward, we will recognize what veterans offer, beyond our robotic read of a resume. Hopefully, two days of thanks will soon be 365 days of genuine appreciation. Hopefully, more and more veterans will find their place in our companies. Hopefully, more and more veterans will claim their figurative and literal seats at the table. And if The Kaleidoscope Group can help make that happen, whether through a simple step inspired here or through partnering with clients to create comprehensive veteran’s initiatives…
I would count that as a personal victory.
I bet Gloria would count that as a personal victory.
I bet Glen would count that as a personal victory.
For us… that’d be Mission: Accomplished.
Hopefully, you’ll take on this personal mission. If you do, you won’t be engaged in simply “doing good.” You’ll simply be doing good business. And the only ones being left behind… will be your competition.
The Kaleidoscope Group