Opinions Needed -- Ex-Military Officers Managerial Skills

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    Aug 01, 2009 4:44 PM GMT
    I need your opinions guys. Here I am about to leave the country on an extended business trip and an ex-military officer I hired solely as a favor to friend has __cked up again. Why are these guys such poor managers in the private sector?

    Details as needed.
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    Aug 01, 2009 5:11 PM GMT
    twomack said
    I need your opinions guys. Here I am about to leave the country on an extended business trip and an ex-military officer I hired solely as a favor to friend has __cked up again. Why are these guys such poor managers in the private sector?

    Details as needed.

    As an ex-military officer, I can suggest these purely subjective observations. First, it depends upon what this officer's career field was, how he was trained, what he did in uniform. He (or she?) may have been focused on purely leadership tasks, or technical ones, like how to fire field artillery. Administration is an entirely different skill set, that not every officer experiences & develops.

    Most officers tend to be resourceful and self-starters, and generally are quick learners and adapters, since the military often throws them into situations for which they are otherwise unprepared. You either sink or swim.

    Perhaps what you have is a sinker. Why is this person no longer in uniform? Plus, he or she may be more a specialist than a generalist, unable to acquire those skills which you require. I happen to be a superb administrator, as my Army career proved, but even those skills do not necessarily translate well into the civilian work environment. I expect compliance with my directives, and have to force myself to incorporate feedback from subordinates.

    Last, hard for me to say it, even officers can be duds. What's the rank? A more junior officer isn't that impressive to me. But I even knew an Army Major General (2-star) who was made a bank Vice President after his retirement. He failed miserably and was fired.

    It's true that ex-officers, and NCOs (Sergeants and Navy ratings) entering the civilian work force have a better tract record than the average civilian applicant. That doesn't guarantee 100% success, just a higher probability. If this guy is a turkey, lose him.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Aug 01, 2009 8:17 PM GMT
    I agree with Red. The notion that all officers are good managers is false. They need to prove it. I find myself in a unit of poor management and I struggle to instill better management practices that is so badly needed that will save time, money and effort by all personnel within the battalion. It's difficult because the leadership either doesn't get it or just doesn't care about better management techniques.

    I have been around excellent officers and I think their excellence is based in their managerial skills. Management is leadership...that's my new mantra. However, there are dinosaurs, even new age dinos, who refuse to improve themselves and therefore improve their techniques in order to get better results. Kick them to the curb!

    My best unit I've been assigned to in terms of management practices, was a military police unit in Korea. The Battalion Commander was very young for his rank (Lieutenant Colonel) and I think it can easily be attributed to his management practices. As a logistician, I found it very easy to create a plan to meet the unit's operational and training needs because of the management practices that were used. In that unit, it was virtual death if you missed a suspense and couldn't provide sufficent justification for it. Rampantly in the 82nd Airborne Division, my current unit assignment, suspenses aren't that big of a deal. I was shocked by that when I first got here 3 years ago. The most storied unit in the Army, at least I think, and it can't meet suspenses at the lowest command level on a regular basis. It may be different in other Battalions in other Brigades within the Division, but not in my Brigade/Battalion!
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    Aug 01, 2009 10:08 PM GMT
    "Why are these guys such poor managers in the private sector? "

    Because things change when you hand in your weapon?
  • coolarmydude

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    Aug 01, 2009 10:42 PM GMT
    McGay said"Why are these guys such poor managers in the private sector? "

    Because things change when you hand in your weapon?





    That has nothing to do with it. McGay, don't be an ass.
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    Aug 02, 2009 10:37 AM GMT
    One of the things that changes might be a loss of one's sense of humor? Just a guess.
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    Aug 02, 2009 10:52 AM GMT
    twomack saidI need your opinions guys. Here I am about to leave the country on an extended business trip and an ex-military officer I hired solely as a favor to friend has __cked up again. Why are these guys such poor managers in the private sector?

    Details as needed.


    Me thinks that he who hires solely as a favor (and not based on an interview and the interviewees qualifications) is, perhaps, the one who F-ed up! icon_eek.gif

    More than likely, if the guy could only get hired based on a personal favor, then he is one of the bad ones that Red_Vespa mentioned. Overall, former military officers should be able to run circles around their civilian counterparts of the same age...
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    Aug 02, 2009 4:43 PM GMT
    Thanks guys. I agree the first f_ckup was the hire. That was my f_ckup. That has been corrected.

    The gentleman who requested the hire was himself a former Colonel in the Army. The hire was to replace him in the position from which he was promoted. I did not know of that promotion until after the fact. Then came the request to make the hire of a former Lt. Colonel, which I did approve.

    I rescinded the promotion. My guess would be the Colonel will be off the payroll in a few weeks also. It seems I have some work to do in that division.

    I do sincerely thank you for your input.



  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 02, 2009 5:02 PM GMT
    twomack saidI need your opinions guys. Here I am about to leave the country on an extended business trip and an ex-military officer I hired solely as a favor to friend has __cked up again. Why are these guys such poor managers in the private sector?

    Details as needed.


    Based on ONE individual you are saying all ex-military officers are poor managers?

    Besides, he was Army. That explains it icon_smile.gif Kidding! Just a little friendly inter-service ribbing.

    You know what Army stands for right?
    Aren't Real Men Yet or Aren't Ready to be Marines Yet.
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    Aug 02, 2009 5:32 PM GMT
    coolarmydude said
    McGay said"Why are these guys such poor managers in the private sector? "

    Because things change when you hand in your weapon?





    That has nothing to do with it. McGay, don't be an ass.


    As a former army officer, I completely agrree with Coolarmydude.
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    Aug 02, 2009 5:42 PM GMT
    DClifterguy said
    twomack saidI need your opinions guys. Here I am about to leave the country on an extended business trip and an ex-military officer I hired solely as a favor to friend has __cked up again. Why are these guys such poor managers in the private sector?

    Details as needed.


    Based on ONE individual you are saying all ex-military officers are poor managers?

    Besides, he was Army. That explains it icon_smile.gif Kidding! Just a little friendly inter-service ribbing.

    You know what Army stands for right?
    Aren't Real Men Yet or Aren't Ready to be Marines Yet.


    You would think different if you had your ass kicked by an army officer.icon_evil.gif
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Aug 02, 2009 5:43 PM GMT
    What sound do you hear when shit hits the fan?



    MAAAAArine!
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    Aug 02, 2009 5:53 PM GMT
    kscott6671 said
    coolarmydude said
    McGay said"Why are these guys such poor managers in the private sector? "

    Because things change when you hand in your weapon?





    That has nothing to do with it. McGay, don't be an ass.


    As a former army officer, I completely agrree with Coolarmydude.


    This is not a subject matter to which I am new. Within most large organizations -- and others -- such as SAIC, CACI, etc. guys and gals coming right out of the service into the private sector are passed through training and couseling in order to adapt to the private sector. Organizations such as the federal contractors SAIC and CACI cited above can afford to do that. After all, they turn these guys ans gals right back towards government service from which they came.

    If anything, I think all of the servicecs sorely prepare folks for the full breadth of the private secotr. Many have known nothing other than the military since age 18. I understand that, so why not do this favor when you know the need?
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    Aug 02, 2009 6:13 PM GMT

    Hey hey hey now...

    Some of us handle our business. The military works just like any other profession as far as individual merit is concerned. Sometimes in this profession just as any other, it's who you know not what you know..and unfortunately some idiots get undeserved privilages.

    You get out of life what you put in it. I've had my own personal grievances with some of my leadership in my years in of service, but there are many exceptional ones that deserve credit.
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    Aug 02, 2009 6:45 PM GMT

    Thanks guys. You are re-enforcing a great deal of territory I've covered.
  • scrumrob

    Posts: 92

    Aug 03, 2009 4:34 AM GMT
    I was never in the military but have worked for former military people. To be honest, most of them have a problem dealing with nonmilitary employees. My current manager is a former Navy officer who had something to do with supplies and paymaster on a Navy carrier. I have come to refer to him as Captain Picard because he thinks he need only say make it so for miracles to be worked by his underlings whom he obviously considers as put on this earth to aggravate him with their obtuse natures. I am the systems administration manager who has to make sure that equipment, which is so out-of-date parts haven't been made for them anywhere in the world since the end of the 20th century, continue to work.

    He presents lists of things he thinks must be done, today, when I have five people on my team to cover three shifts and three buildings separated by as much as 10 miles. I and the salaried supervisor who report to me work 12 to 14 hour days, take call at night, work holidays and weekends, and he complains if one of us is not in the office at 0630. He leaves between 1600 and 1630 every day regardless of what is going on. I leave at 2000 without finishing everything on the list, and he writes me up. When I explain that we had a scanner go bad unexpectedly and it took three hours to get it back online, he says I am simply making excuses.

    He sends 20 or 30 e-mails per day and expects me to read and reply to everyone of them in addition to the 60 or more received from others in the company. Often, he will find an e-mail about something from a couple of months in the past, that was completed long ago and reported to him. He forwards it to me with a one word question "Status?". Except for him, I love my job. I love the type of work I do. I enjoy working with the people who report to me, but he drives me up a bloody tree.

    At a previous employer several years ago, the manager over my group, was a retired Air Force colonel. He was a screamer who would swear at people on conference calls, in meetings, or just in the hallway. I was never one of his targets, but I didn't respect him very much. On the other hand, I had a colleague at this company who was a captain in the Army reserves. He went to Afghanistan in the initial effort that overthrew the Taleban. He was mellow, reasonable, unexcitable, not prone to hysteria or anger, and smart. The retired Air Force colonel preserved his job until he came back, then fired him one year later because the captain pointed out some problems on an upgrade project.

    I guess, if not for the captain, I would have a completely warped, negative opinion of former military officers as arrogant, yet insecure, shitheads who couldn't find their arses with both hands.
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    Aug 03, 2009 6:13 AM GMT
    Fortunately during my 25 years I ran into very few yellers or screamers. The nasty ones would mostly just sneer, insult & intimidate, but even they weren't very common. Most of us just didn't want to be in an Army like that, and officers who behaved in that way earned no respect.

    One of the worst for me, however, was a loud-mouthed Brigadier General (1-star) when I taught ROTC. He would come out to observe cadet field training at Ft. Lewis, WA, and you'd hear him driving up from a 1/4 mile away. That's because he'd had his jeep fitted with loudspeakers, over which he'd be playing Wagner's the Ride of the Valkyrie as he came!

    Gentlemen, I do not make this up. He thought it would impress the cadets and inspire them, but of course these sophisticated college students were all laughing at him behind his back.

    He was as loony as General Dreedle from the movie Catch 22, in that and many other ways. And when he wasn't playing Wagner, it was the movie music from Patton, specifically the theme used during the 3rd Army's armored push across Germany.

    One time he came to our campus for a tour, and the officer ROTC faculty took turns briefing him. The Captain ahead of me got eviscerated, and was reduced to a stuttering, sweating wreck, the General finally terminating that officer's briefing prematurely as being a worthless waste of his time. And I was next.

    Well, I figured if my career was going down in flames anyway, I might as well go out like a man, not a mouse. I decided I needed to get the upper hand with this guy, so I stood right in front of his chair to start my briefing, before walking over to my charts.

    I deviated from my prepared remarks by telling him that our campus program DID feature the items he was concerned about, and that we DID do the things he wanted us to (not needing to point out these were the very things my fellow officer had just fallen on his sword over right before me). My gamble payed off, because he seemed to like my direct bluntness (bullies are often that way), and he left the rest of my dog-and-pony show alone, merely asking a few harmless questions toward the end.

    My boss, our local detachment Lt. Colonel, later thanked me in private, saying I had saved the whole show, and possibly his own career. And he never forgot it, giving me wonderful efficiency reports for the rest of my tour there. The Captain got terrible reports, and he was "riffed out" not long after.

    But as I said, fortunately these nut cases were the exception to my experience, and I always felt relaxed & not threatened in uniform, and thought most of my fellow officers, and the NCOs, were highly professional, dedicated & competent. I still think overall they can make excellent civilian employees, in the correct fields.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Aug 03, 2009 12:41 PM GMT
    Let's not even begin the horror stories of death by PowerPoint!! icon_surprised.gificon_eek.gif
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    Aug 03, 2009 12:47 PM GMT
    coolarmydude saidLet's not even begin the horror stories of death by PowerPoint!! icon_surprised.gificon_eek.gif


    Amen.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Aug 03, 2009 12:49 PM GMT
    Not to turn things political, I am really glad that Obama kept Secretary Gates as the Defense Secretary. He is practically weeding out some high level officers that can't manage sensitive requirements in defense of our country. He fired one Air Force General when he refused to fire another officer for failings in handling our nuclear weapons stockpile. In fact, they were both fired by Gates. And now he's recently fired an Army General that was responsible for the Afghanistan theatre of operations!!! This man is challenging groupthink that is so badly plaguing the military!!

    Groupthink is what gives me a bitter taste with the military. It's rampant and expected. That's how bad it is. And as someone already mentioned, it's not what you know, it's who you know...and I'd like to add it's also how you look. The dog and pony show is most important for many senior ranking individuals.

    Just a month ago, my job was threatened when I told a senior official in my Battalion that he couldn't procure something the way he expected it to be done because it was illegal. If I get a transfer order because of his threat, he'll find himself retiring ASAP.