Greetings, all.

I'm a currently civil servant that's hoping to rise through the ranks of management.

One of the probable moves will put me in the positing of managing both civilian employees and military members.

Manager Tools provides great guidance (which I'm planning to follow) on managing the civilian employees.

I'm curious what points of view and advice Mike and Mark (and anyone else) have on managing military members.

thejackofspades's picture

Hello Thomas,

Although not a seasoned manager, my qualification for my reply is that I am actually a US Marine who has civilian bosses. Here are my two cents:

I was going to type a very long winded reply, until I realized that I could summarize my opinion in a short paragraph or two. Be assertive, but not overly authoritive. If you come in trying to prove that you're their boss by yelling and things of that nature, if will blow up in your face. The biggest thing that Marines (and I imagine it would be the same for any branch) look for when dealing with a civilian boss is mutual respect. Depending on where you are and with which service, you may see senior enlisted yelling (literally red faced screaming) at their juniors when they make a mistake; that is NOT acceptable for a civilian to do, even if they are prior service.

Other than that, the same principles apply. The CEO isn't going to task out projects to the worker bee directly without going through (or at the least informing) the workers supervisors, as you wouldn't task a pvt with sweeping the floor (FYI- proper route is to go to the most senior enlisted who is on your level or lower and say 'hey can you make sure someone takes care of X sometime today', for example).

Don't be a push over, but don't be a control freak either. Be assertive, be confident, be direct. Ask your senior enlisted for assistance when you need it, and you'll be fine.

Best of luck,