Key 2 - Build a Core Team

It is absolutely imperative that you have the right team in place to support culture change efforts or to build a new program or initiative across your company or organization. 

Now that you have started the process of identifying the veterans, military spouses, and members of the Guard/Reserves in your workforce, it is time to organize the team who will support your Military Talent Program or Veterans Initiative. Think back to any successful change effort, program, or initiative within your company. It is likely, if you are part of a company or organization with more than a few people, that there were multiple people who had responsibility for the success of the change efforts, program, or initiative.

Unfortunately, we have seen too many companies "voluntell" an individual within their Human Resources department that they are now going to be responsible for the entirety of veteran and military hiring, which is often a side "job" that they have to now do on top of their "regular job". There are many things wrong with this approach.

1.   First, veteran and military programs are so much more than just hiring. If your company or organization only wants to hire veterans or military spouses but not provide appropriate onboarding, ongoing professional development, and outlets for engagement throughout their tenure with you, please reconsider your "why". Why are you implementing a military talent program or veterans initiative?

2.   Second, veteran and military hiring should not be the sole responsibility of one individual within your Human Resources department. It is likely that all the employees within an HR function are already wearing multiple hats and juggling responsibilities that fall well beyond their job description. While today's work environment often demands that employees stretch their skill sets and job duties, you must consider that employees perform best when they are not over worked, when they are provided the resources necessary to do their jobs effectively, and when they are given work that is meaningful to them. So, before you consider picking a recruiter or talent acquisition specialist within your HR department to lead your efforts, consider whether they have the capacity to do so, if you will provide them with the financial resources to be successful, and if they have a passion for the military community.

3.   Third, your Military Talent Program or Veterans Initiative is not the sole responsibility of your HR department...period. Too often, we work with companies that house their military efforts within their HR department and then make success the sole responsibility of the HR team. And then leaders wonder why the company is struggling to gain traction. This brings us back to the idea of the "why" behind implementing this effort. If you are truly hiring, engaging, and retaining military talent within your workforce for the right reasons, your Military Talent Program or Veterans Initiative should be the responsibility of many individuals (and departments) across your company or organization - not just your HR team.

So, how do we overcome the above challenges? By organizing the right core team to help your efforts to recruit, hire, engage, and retain military talent.

The Layers of a Core Team

Let's look at the different layers of an ideal Military Talent Program or Veterans Initiative team.

The foundational layer of a strong team is Senior Leadership. Any long lasting and sustainable organizational effort is leadership-driven. Think, who will be your executive sponsor? Having your CEO, CFO, and COO on board will make the biggest impact possible but it is not always easy to achieve. Start smart – approach senior leaders who you know are military veterans or military spouses or those who have historically been vocal and supportive of the military community.

The second layer of your team are your champions. These are the individuals who are responsible for spurring the strategy and driving the execution of your Military Talent Program. They are often the main points of contact within your organization for all things related to military and veterans recruiting or retention. We cannot emphasize enough how important having a dedicated champion(s) is to the success of your efforts. Champions should have the ability to make decisions for the program with minimal hurdles from management. Champions should also have the ability to gather appropriate resources needed to effectively run and implement your company's military hiring and retention efforts, whether the resources needed are monetary or related to additional staff members working on the project.

The third layer of your team are your supporting members. These are the individuals that help make your efforts successful across the entire company. Supporting members are often individual contributors or mid-level managers within your workforce who have a passion for and commitment to hiring - and retaining - members of the military community. These individuals will become the backbone to your efforts and often help with resume review, interviewing military candidates, and referring veterans and military spouses to hiring managers and recruiting teams as potential candidates. The key here is that these individuals come from all major segments or functions within your workforce so that there is representation across your company.

Every company with a strong and sustainable Military Talent Program incorporates veterans and military spouses into their support team.

Supporting members of your core team do not have to be affiliated with the military; they simply need a desire to want to support your efforts. With that said, it is important that you do have military representation within your core team so that they are able to help with translating resumes that have a great deal of military lingo, understanding nuances between the military’s culture and the company’s culture, and helping other core team members whenever there is a military-specific question.

As you can see, the right team is so important to the success of your military recruiting and engagement efforts. If you have questions or comments relating to who should be on your team or how you should organize your team, please do not hesitate to reach out! We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.