In your job as a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine, regardless of your career field, you knew what you had to do. You knew how to do it and you understood the environment in which you were tasked to do it. There were no shades of gray involved.
That was the old way of doing business.
Now that you are a true blue civilian (or soon to be one), you may find that life on the job is just a tad bit different from when you wore a uniform.
Welcome to your new normal. To survive and thrive in it, you may need to tweak your thinking and actions on the job. The following seven strategies can help you truly transition from being in the military to being a hard-working civilian, just doing his job.
1. Remember that you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
You’ve wanted to be a civilian for so long, you can’t imagine that you could possibly mess it up. But you could. Treat your first job out of the military exactly like you would as though you were still on active duty and you will.
You’re a civilian now. It’s one thing to take off the uniform for the last time. It is quite another to mentally and emotionally accept it.
2. Don’t plan to overhaul the organization on day one.
In the military, you hit the ground running. You were able to clearly and quickly assess any given situation and make the necessary improvements at the speed of sound, leaping tall buildings with a single bound in the process. While it may be one of your best talents, but don’t unveil your savvy secret weapon of mass reorganization on day one of your new civilian job.
Instead, take the needed time to settle in to your new environment. Let your colleagues get to know and appreciate you for who you are before you start changing their lives forever.
3. Learn the civilian language of your career.
Whether you have transitioned into the same career field or not, there will be linguistic differences to embrace. Just like the alphabet soup you spoke in the military, each industry has its own way of communicating as well. To be competitive within it, you may have to learn how to speak all over again. And while you’re at it, check the uniformed jargon at the door. Hooah.
4. You may have to get over yourself.
In the military, rank had its privileges. If you had rank and your own admin staff available to you 24/7/365 then you may have to make a few harder adjustments. Where are your staff minions and your PowerPoint warriors when you need them in this brave new world? Look in the mirror.
And by the way, you take your coffee black…no sugar.
5. Plan to work effectively across the generations.
Veterans, Boomers, Gen-X’s and Y’s, oh my. Now more than ever, generational drama is alive and well in the civilian workforce. Dismiss it at your own peril. Instead, do your best to recognize, appreciate, accept and work within those charming generational differences you’re sure to encounter.
6. Be a company rainmaker.
Make no mistake about it. Job security is an illusion. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. The best way to enhance that illusion for yourself post military life is to make cold hard cash a reality for your company. You will be valued and one of the last to be given the boot should the proverbial house of cards eventually fall down.
7. Mind your digital dirt.
Ever cognizant of operational security, this may be an easy transition for you. Continue to keep your cyber skeletons to a minimum and watch what you say about employers and colleagues on-line, even on your own time, lest you find yourself being fired, sued or both by the offended one.
Welcome to your new normal.