Why are Military Skills Important?
In the course of your military career you receive training that combines a mix of hard and soft skills. Most of these skills can be transferred to multiple civilian careers across sectors like IT, engineering, communications, food service, government, education and more. Military skills aim to train you to work both independently as well as part of a team.
Collaboration, discipline, conflict resolution, and teamwork – skills developed during your military service transfer well into a number of civilian careers. According to a study by Forces in Mind Trust, nearly 75% of employers said they wanted to hire from the ex-forces community. However, the same study mentioned that ex-servicemen and women often fail to communicate their transferrable skills when seeking employment. In this blog we’ll look at ways to position your military skills as valuable transferrable assets for a new career.
A civilian career that draws on several key skills learned during military service is Scrum Master. There are several interdependencies between military training and Scrum Master training. Both involve working collaboratively as part of a single team with a common purpose. There are some core military skills that you can successfully transfer to Scrum Master training.
But first, a quick definition of Scrum and Agile pods:
What is Scrum?
According to the official Scrum Guide, Scrum is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex projects. Scrum gets its name from rugby terminology and just like a rugby team, encourages members to learn from experience and continuously improve. It involves specific values, commitments, events and artifacts, which all ensure the seamless running of a project.
What is an Agile pod?
An Agile Pod is a small group of self-organising people with a variety of competencies, who work collaboratively on the delivery of a defined product in multiple iterations, following the Agile Scrum framework. Each Pod is made up of a set of complementary skills that are needed for a successful project delivery.
Most Agile Pods are formed of three to nine person teams, with each team member responsible for single tasks and managing parts of the backlog. They are autonomous, cross-functional and highly adaptable teams that provide a flexible approach to problem solving.
Now let’s look at some key military skills that you learn whilst in service and how those skills can be transferred to Scrum Master training.
5 transferrable skills from military training to excel as a Scrum Master
- Problem Solving
- Technical Skills
- Effective Communication
Military men and women are natural problem-solvers because they have experience finding creative solutions in high-stress situations. If you had experience of conflict resolution within your squad or had to tackle various logistical challenges, then you would have cultivated advanced problem-solving skills. According to the report commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust, there are six core skills most valued by employers including – Time Management, Critical Thinking, and Complex Problem Solving.
The Scrum Master focuses on keeping the team members on track and helps them to reach their goal. He is responsible to find out the distractions that block the team to deliver quality work. These distractions can be unwanted meetings, unwanted procedural complexity, work environment or any other challenge. The Scrum Master is responsible for keeping the team away from all distractions and barriers that could interfere with their way of achieving goals.
According to a LinkedIn survey, veterans are 5 to 6 times more likely than non-veterans to list technical skills like IT security, software code debugging, engineering systems and IT security on their resumes. One of the main roles of a Scrum Master is to help the software development team to build programmes while mitigating obstacles. This calls for some level of technical knowledge. While Scrum Masters are not expected to write codes for software development, they need a thorough understanding of a product’s technical features and its scope to successfully steer its delivery.
For example – if you worked as an aircraft technician during your service, chances are you have the technical knowhow for a position as a civilian mechanic. Even if you don’t end up working in the airline sector, skills like trouble shooting and fault isolation can be transferred to other technical roles that require a certain aptitude to diagnose the root cause of an issue.
Working in the military involves having a clear chain of command. You have to work with people from diverse backgrounds and communicate with high-ranking officials, peers and civilians alike. This helps develop effective communication skills. Being able to convey orders clearly and persuasively facilitates the successful completion of missions and objectives. Effective communications also aids collaboration within teams and is crucial for any conflict resolution.
Communication skills involve Speaking and Active Listening, both listed among the top six core skills most valued by employers. By listening to your managers and co-workers you can get a quicker understanding of any challenges or pain points and find a resolution.
Scrum Masters use their deep understanding of the Scrum values – courage, focus, commitment, respect, openness – to enable optimum collaboration within teams. They do this by actively collaborating with stakeholders outside their own development teams – including other Scrum Masters and Product Owners.
A Scrum Master’s interpersonal skills are particularly tested during a conflict. High performing teams will occasionally have conflicts. It’s the Scrum Master’s job to use a facts-based approach to facilitate a resolution.
A military career trains you to prep and plan in advance, but also teaches you to adapt to situations when things don’t go according to plan. Being adaptable and responding to the changing needs of a project or situation is a key attribute of a military experience. It shows employers your ability to improvise and hold your own in a fast-paced environment.
Agile development is based on the concept of change and adaptability to meet customer needs. Scrum Masters follow the framework meticulously while practically applying the Scrum framework. However, they do need to be adaptable to manage the changing needs of the team and the organisational system. Scrum training helps develop an Agile mindset that can handle change.
During military service, you are trained to strictly follow procedure, regulations, and guidelines. Following due procedure is particularly important in high-stress situations and can be the difference between life and death. An understanding of compliance is valuable to employers who require a strict adherence to guidelines. Sectors like financial services, healthcare and telecommunications are just a few examples of professions that require a strong focus on compliance.
One of the main accountabilities of a Scrum Master is enacting Scrum as per the Scrum Guide and
helping teams follow the guidelines of the Scrum framework. This requires a robust knowledge of scrum terminology and artifacts. A military career instils a dedication to compliance and this approach transfers well to a scrum master role.
Become a Certified Scrum Master with FDM
FDM is leading the way in Agile working, particularly with Scrum. We provide expert training in Agile Scrum Framework to all our team members and trainees. Product Owners across FDM have introduced Scrum through multiple Agile Pods this past year. As a result, both FDM consultants and our clients have seen first-hand how effective Scrum is in a business working environment, where flexibility and collaboration are key to achieving tangible business products and results.
If you’re looking to kickstart your career in technology, apply to FDM’s Ex-Forces Programme.
If you're based in North America, apply to FDM's Veterans Careers Program.