The Value Of Discipline:
There are many difficult things about the military which may not be worthwhile for your business. But there are a lot of strong lessons to take away, too. Following, several will be explored to help you get an idea of how you can use known-successful institutions like the army to help you design your business strategy.
1. Requisite Preparation:
No one applies to the military and is then dumped into a battlefield. Yet somehow, there are many businesses where a new hire is basically thrown out shadowing someone on the sales floor. These new hires have to essentially fend for themselves until they find their rhythm.
In the military, boot camp comes first. For a number of weeks, new recruits are thrown into difficult, unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations. They are taught to respect orders and to work as a unit. They are prepared prior to deployment, and the principles they learn in training extend through their tenure in the army. Your business would do well to do operate similarly.
Perhaps your salespeople won't be dropped into a battlefield, but you may put them through a few weeks of sales training where common clientele personas are explored and contended with. Not only will this prepare them for actual work in the near future, but it will also help you identify who among new recruits are management material, and who should never be given so much responsibility.
2. Recognition Of Excellence:
In training and throughout the time an employee works for you, recognition of excellence is paramount. The army is an institution that does this better than many. When someone excels, they are recognized in front of the whole division. Medals are given out, as are challenge coins.
You can give out similar awards for service—even challenge coins made to order; Embleholics provides some interesting options. Find ways of recognizing your employees whenever they do well, and you'll naturally incentivize them toward further excellence.
Additionally, you'll motivate the rest of your team this direction as well. It's a cumulative win-win. It's hard to under-emphasize just how important recognizing good work is.
3. Chain Of Command:
In the military, a chain of command disseminates orders throughout ranks. A smaller business may not need to think about these things as much as a larger operation. However, the larger your business, the more important it is to facilitate a legitimate “chain of command”. Many corporations actually do this quite well, but there are some idiosyncrasies to consider.
Firstly, the military chain of command operates from a sort of military “corporate culture”. There are laws, practices, customs, regulations, and more which are unique to the military. It's not simply superiors passing on unwanted tasks to inferiors. While that does go on, it's not the totality of the situation. Ideally, the chain of command helps send the right people to the right places.
You've got to have a chain of command that is built around corporate culture, rather than dissemination of power. Look into the benefits of a chain of command, and why it works for the military. Appropriate those aspects of this management style which match your corporate culture. Not everything, of course. There's no good in applying your business's equivalent of a “court-marshall” to an employee for poorly following an order.
Using Exterior Organizations To Help Define Managerial Strategy:
You don't only have to rely on best-practices as established through corporate practice in the past. You can seek solutions from exterior areas, such as the military. There's much to learn from the army as pertains to your means of managing employees. If you haven't looked into such tactics, it may be worth your while too.