Change is the new normal. From rapid digital transformation to an ever-evolving global economy, change is the defining characteristic of today’s business world. The ability to adapt to change is one of the most essential skills for professional success – and it’s one of the most challenging skills for businesses to find in a new hire.
How can hiring managers know whether a candidate will thrive in a dynamic business environment? Previous exposure to a fast-paced environment is critical and this is where military veterans excel. Military veterans are trained to remain calm in the face of life-or-death decisions in the world’s most intense environments. They’re experts at risk management and adapting to any situation.
What is a dynamic environment?
As the name suggests, dynamic environments are areas where a lot of change can happen quickly. In the military, not succeeding in these environments can lead to significant consequences. For example, a platoon commander may be out on the ground with 40 to 50 people, and there’s no telling what will happen at any given moment. Aviation communities and nuclear submarines are other types of dynamic environments characterized by rapidly evolving, high-stress situations. To thrive, a vet needs to be smart about strategy.
Planning, risk mitigation and “commander’s intent”
Military veterans work diligently to be fully prepared in any situation. From the beginning of their careers, vets are exposed to dynamic environments.
In the military, we use a term called “commander’s intent.” When things change during execution, leaders don’t need to be told what to do. Because of their preparation, they’re ready for whatever comes their way. They use the tools they have and are able to get the job done.
In a civilian environment, that commander’s intent shifts to a management intent. In office leadership situations, vets take the initiative and work to accomplish company goals without waiting for someone to give them the green light.
Military veterans have an innate ability to adapt in any situation
This strong preparation also allows military veterans to adapt to any situation. Regardless of job industry, things can change at a moment’s notice. Thanks to their background, vets already have that flexibility in place.
The candidates our group works with are like Play-Doh – they may not have a ton of industry experience, but they can be molded and have that industry experience built up. When I follow up with companies that hire military veterans, they share that the military candidates typically end up outperforming their fellow employees within three months of being hired.
Remove the apprehension with military veterans
Sometimes, companies are apprehensive about hiring military veterans. I get it – you’ve got a list of certain industry-specific skills or experiences. Don’t lose sight of the big picture skills that can’t be taught: resiliency in the face of change and confident decision making. Military vets have these qualities in spades.
A typical candidate is transitioning from a junior military officer. In their early 20s, they’ve taken charge of a unit and are being put in charge of a large group of people and equipment. It’s a steep learning curve, but it’s advantageous for companies. The government has already crafted this part of the candidate: the part that’s learned to lead in dynamic environments and difficult situations.
When you bring them into your environment, the stress level won’t be nearly as high and they’ll adapt quickly to their surroundings. And that leads to greater success for your company as a whole.