Being a Veteran Supportive Supervisor

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As a supervisor, one of your roles is to create an inclusive and supportive work environment for all your team members. This is especially important for veterans, who bring a unique set of skills, experiences, and perspectives to the workplace. However, transitioning from military to civilian work can be challenging for many veterans. Here are five practical tips to help you become a veteran-supportive supervisor, fostering a workplace where veterans can thrive.

5 Tips for Being a Veteran Supportive Supervisor

1. Understand and Value Military Experience
Veterans bring a wealth of skills and experiences that can benefit any organization. However, these may not always be immediately apparent to those unfamiliar with military culture. Take the time to learn about your veteran employees’ military backgrounds, including their roles, responsibilities, and achievements.

  • Ask Questions: Show genuine interest in their military experience. This can help bridge the gap between military and civilian workplace language.
  • Translate Skills: Help veterans articulate how their military skills transfer to your industry. For example, leadership roles in the military often involve project management, strategic planning, and team coordination.
  • Value Diversity: Recognize the diverse perspectives veterans bring to problem-solving and decision-making processes.
  • Important note: Do not assume all veterans are male or that all veterans have been in combat. Never ask a veteran if they have had to take a life

2. Provide Clear Communication and Expectations
Military environments are often highly structured, with clear commands and expectations. In contrast, civilian workplaces can sometimes be less defined, leading to confusion for veterans. As a supervisor, it’s crucial to provide clear, concise communication and set well-defined expectations.

  • Be Direct and Specific: When assigning tasks or providing feedback, be as clear and specific as possible.
  • Set Goals and Milestones: Outline what success looks like for projects and individual performance. Provide timelines and key milestones.
  • Offer Regular Check-Ins: Schedule consistent one-on-one meetings to discuss progress and address any questions or concerns.

3. Foster a Culture of Respect and Inclusion

  • Veterans often come from environments where camaraderie, mutual respect, and a sense of belonging are paramount. Creating a workplace culture that mirrors these values can significantly enhance their transition and integration.
  • Promote Team Building: Encourage team activities and initiatives that build trust and collaboration among all employees.
  • Respect Differences: Acknowledge and respect the unique experiences and perspectives veterans bring to the table.
  • Encourage Peer Support: Facilitate mentorship opportunities where veterans can share their experiences and support each other.

4. Offer Flexibility and Support for Ongoing Needs
Veterans may have unique needs, such as a need to attend multiple medical appointments or help with duties around the house if their spouse/partner or child is also a member of the military or a veteran. Being flexible and supportive can make a significant difference in their ability to perform and feel valued at work.

  • Flexible Scheduling: Allow for flexible work hours or remote work options to accommodate their needs.
  • Access to Resources: Provide information about resources such as Employee Assistance Programs or veteran support services such as Be Connected, available to all Arizona service members, veterans, and their family members through 866-4AZ-VETS.
  • Encourage Open Dialogue: Create an environment where veterans feel comfortable discussing their needs without fear of judgment or retaliation.

5. Invest in Professional Development and Growth
Veterans often possess a strong desire for training, growth, and continuous improvement. Providing opportunities for professional development and career advancement can help them channel their drive and ambition into your organization’s success.

  • Training and Education: Offer training programs, workshops, or courses that align with their career goals.
  • Career Path Planning: Work with veterans to outline potential career paths within your organization and identify opportunities and pathways for advancement.
  • Recognize and Reward: Acknowledge their achievements and contributions, reinforcing their value to the team and the organization.

By implementing these practical tips, you can create a supportive environment that not only helps veterans transition smoothly into the civilian workforce but also leverages their unique strengths to enhance your organization. Remember, being a veteran-supportive supervisor is about fostering respect, understanding, and growth, ensuring that veterans feel valued and empowered to succeed.

Be Connected Career Navigation

This blog is part of a series curated by the Be Connected Career Navigation team, designed to offer guidance and support through a career-focused lens. Our goal is to empower not just individuals, but also helpers, organizations, communities, and systems, ensuring a holistic approach to career development.

The Be Connected Career Navigation team is dedicated to assisting transitioning service members, veterans, military and veteran spouses, and military installations. We provide tailored support and resources to help navigate the complexities of career transitions. Learn more at www.ConnectVeterans.org/CareerNav or call 866-4AZ-VETS and ask about no-cost Career Navigation services.

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Be Connected and ConnectVeterans.org are provided in partnership by:

Special thanks to the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family for their partnership and support.

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