Hire Veterans to build a gold-standard team

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In business, there are the decisions that guide your company’s future, and then there are other decisions that absolutely define your destiny. Hiring is in the latter category – when you don’t hire carefully and strategically, your company won’t grow geometrically, no matter what you do to improve in any other area (e.g., accounting, marketing, product innovation).

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Tony Robbins has a system that he uses to rate the quality of his employees within his organization. You might recognize the familiar levels:

  • BRONZE players have a good attitude and decent skills, but neither are great.
  • SILVER players have an excellent attitude, but their skills could use improvement – and improving skills in someone who is willing to be coached – someone with an excellent attitude – can usually accomplish quite easily.
  • GOLD players exist on another level. Gold-quality employees are outcome-driven. They’re mission-driven, and time disappears for them. They love the core of the company, and they walk the talk. Their psychology is solidly dedicated to doing what it takes to serve the mission. But gold-quality employees also have extraordinary skills. When you combine this with their extraordinary mindset, psychology and attitude, you have someone who is unstoppable. Employees who possess all of these qualities are truly “gold” players.

And while it’s clear that someone from any background can rise to meet the gold standard, as you consider where to look for these types of candidates, one excellent place to consider is the military – specifically, veterans, or those who are transitioning out of their military service and re-entering civilian life.

Remember how we described a gold-quality employee: outcome-driven, mission-driven, dedicated, service-oriented, possessing extraordinary skills. Each of these traits are openly rewarded and supported in members of the military. When you hire a veteran or transitioning military member, you can be certain that they have what it takes to meet your gold standard.

But this is just the beginning when it comes to the benefits of hiring veterans. Veterans are easier to interview, hire and retain. Most (65%) of employers said that acceptance rates are higher among veterans, and 67% said retention rates are higher, according to an Orion Talent study. The same study noted that what stands out is their technical know-how and self-determination. These are both highly transferable to a corporate environment.

Former military members are skilled at working with diverse teams under varying degrees of pressure, and they have the fortified mindset to handle difficult challenges when they arise. They have a track record of proven leadership, and as we heard Tony talk about in his podcast interview with General Stanley McChrystal, leadership in the military no longer follows the “command and control” model that it used to be known for. Rather, every team member is empowered and can create relationship-based change throughout the entire organization.

Veterans are also accustomed and trained to dedicate themselves to the pursuit of a mission – and if your company’s mission is compelling and value-driven, you will likely experience a level of dedication in veteran hires that you don’t see in the rest of your team. They know the importance of building trust, practicing empathy, and participating in a culture of shared consciousness.

This mindset and attitude, coupled with inherent leadership abilities has the potential for far-reaching ripple effects in your company culture. In the same way that one bad apple can spoil an entire barrel, one extraordinary employee can infuse heightened levels of leadership, camaraderie, ownership and energy into a team, ultimately transforming a company’s culture for the better from the inside out.

Building a team of gold-quality employees isn’t always easy – or quick. It takes conscious hiring practices and your company’s dedication to the process, even if that means taking your time. Tony likes to say that he’s “slow to hire and quick to fire.” If you adopt a “slow to hire” mentality you may find that your team grows at a steady, manageable pace and that employee retention increases. And if you are slow to hire truly gold-standard employees – employees who demonstrate the same qualities that are instilled in veterans and transitioning military members – everyone wins.

Don’t leave the direction of your company up to chance. Next time you actively seek to fill open positions in your company, you may want to pay special attention to your veteran and transitioning military candidates. Over 200,000 people leave military service each year, and about half of those are looking to enter the private sector – to make an impact on businesses just like yours. Hire a strong veteran and you will receive value and rewards that your whole company will benefit from.

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