What It Means to Be Mission Oriented - Veterans Employment Toolkit
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What It Means to Be Mission Oriented

Most workplaces have an explicit or implicit mission statement that is used to guide the company in a successful direction. It orients employees and provides an overall focus. The same is true for the military and its personnel. However, the strength of the mission orientation is distinctive both in its emphasis and in the way that it is built into the culture. It can have a substantial impact on the behavior of military personnel. Military personnel are nearly always aware of the mission with which they are tasked. For example, one Veteran said that she saw the Commanding Officer’s Mission and Intent posted on the walls in every military unit she had been in. It was there to help unit members remember their focus and achieve the Commanding Officer’s mission.

The mission of the military is supported by several core values. The individual branches of the military state these values differently. For example, the Army has a Soldier's Creed. It includes statements such as, "I will always place the mission first," "I will never accept defeat," "I will never quit," and "I am an expert and I am a professional." The Marine Corps uses the motto Semper Fidelis, which is Latin for "always faithful." This motto reminds Marines to remain faithful to the mission, to each other, to the Corps, and to country, no matter what.

These values are introduced during basic training and are reinforced and encouraged throughout an individual's military experience. This can result in high motivation to be mission oriented and can build camaraderie between military personnel rarely seen elsewhere. Being mission oriented includes:

  • Committing to the mission
  • Setting high standards
  • Putting the mission of the unit before the needs of the individual
  • Completing tasks needed to complete the mission, despite obstacles that may arise
  • Not quitting or accepting defeat
  • Being disciplined and following rules
  • Working together as a team
  • Respecting the team leader and his or her decisions
  • Leading a team effectively and motivating team members

Understanding this mission oriented approach may help you understand a Veteran. Even though the Veteran has left the service, the service may not have left the Veteran. That is, he or she may still approach work in a mission oriented way. As an employer or supervisor, you can benefit from having an employee with this kind of mission oriented approach. To help your Veteran employee succeed, it may be useful to be clear about the mission (e.g. what is the task at hand and what is expected for quality completion of the task). Be clear about who has responsibility for different parts of the task. Lastly, a mission oriented approach has the potential to create adjustment issues for the Veteran. For example, he or she may expect that everyone will be as equally committed to a task. Adjusting to a different pace or culture may take some time. Give the Veteran some "breathing space" and note that you appreciate his or her work.