Benjamin Strong replied to the topic Military vs. civilian workplace culture – which is more suited to government? in the forum Human Resources 8 years, 8 months ago
Thanks for writing this piece. I work in a military organization as a civilian. I am prior enlisted, so I understand both sides of the fence.
The one problem I see working in a military organization is that despite my institutional knowledge, I’m often regarded as “lower than whale shit” or “just a civilian”. This is troubling. I should add this is more often the exception rather than the rule, but it is evident at all levels of the organization- from the lowest nonrate to the flag corps.
The advantages I reap as a civilian working in my organization is institutional knowledge and continuity. I don’t transfer every three or four years. I have taken the time to learn the culture and do my best to add value to my uniform counterparts. I hope my uniform colleagues view me as a resource, able to fill in the gaps when necessary and, as needed, actually stepping in and taking the lead if appropriate.
The disadvantage to working in this type of organization is the “inch deep and mile wide” senior leadership. They don’t, and can’t, know everything. One would think they would lean hard on their civilian subject matter experts, but often they don’t. Another disadvantage are JOs (junior officers) who are afraid to tell senior leaders when they have no clothes. JOs are concerned with one thing- marks. If they don’t get good marks they don’t promote, get good assignments, it’s career ending. They often (not always) view marks over common sense and disregard what civilians have to offer.
I jokingly tell new officers that my job as a civilian is to ensure they (the new officer) earns the Legion of Merit.
Would I change where I work? No way. Could things be better? Things could always be better.
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