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Entries in private sector (1)

Friday
Oct212011

Different Yet Similar: How The Private Sector Can Be Similar To, And Different From, The Military

Many individuals going through a military to civilian transition are under the impression that there are significant differences between the two workplaces. While it is true that differences exist, many transitioning veterans will be happy to learn just how many similarities there are between where they have been working, and where they plan to work in the future.

The Similarities

There is certainly a perception that military and civilian workplaces are very different, but that really isn't the case. The most important traits of a good soldier are also traits of a good employee. For example, hard work is expected from any employer, whether it's the military or private industry. And since hard work is a big part of a military career, transition veterans will find that this aspect of their employers' expectations won't change.

Recognition for work is another similarity. Of course, recognition comes in a few forms, monetary compensation, promotion and gratitude. Pay in the private sector is competitive in that most companies pay competitively for similar types of work. As in the military, when an employee shows promise or improves his or her skills and education, that person is often promoted. Finally, there is often an element of gratitude expressed to employees in the private sector. Team members often remark about a co-worker who solves a problem or completes a difficult task. Also, as a team completes a project a boss often acknowledges a job well done. These informal, yet valuable, forms of recognition will be familiar to veterans transitioning to the private sector.

The Differences

Though there are fewer differences between the military and civilian workplaces than many people expect, differences do exist. Simply put, the private sector workplace is more flexible than the military, which can take some time to adjust to.

In the military, guys and gals have been told where they will work and what job they'll do. Military personnel are moved every few years whether they like the job they've been in or not. The private sector doesn't work in the same way. In private sector veterans will find that they have more choices than they are used to. Employees can ask to do a certain job, and are often even able to negotiate where, how, and how many days a week they'll have to do that job.

Another difference between working for the military and a private sector company is the flexibility of teams outside of the military. More often in the military than not you inherit a team as you come into an organization or into a position, and you're pretty much stuck with the folks that are there. Whether you like them or not and you have to figure out how to work with them.

In private sector, there's a little more flexibility around teams. Managers or team leaders often have the flexibility to change out its members, or change the teams themselves. There is also more flexibility as regards hiring and firing individuals to create better functioning work groups.

Summary

The military is a unique workplace, and as such no civilian employer will recreate its working environment; in fact, many don't seek to. Even though this is true, transitioning veterans will find that there are significant similarities between the military and private sector. Core values of loyalty and a belief in recognizing an employee's skills are just as prevalent in the private sector as the military, albeit often expressed in different ways.

Still, the private sector is different. Flexibility stands out as the key difference. Veterans should expect to find more flexibility in where they may work and even on what projects they will work on. Team flexibility is also significantly different in the private sector, where team members can be removed or added in order to improve the group and it's output as a whole.

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