When my software services company hired an Ex-Soldier as its Administration Head, it did expect excellent results. What we got was a miracle of sorts. Within 3 months, my partners, who are non-military by the way, were singing praises of the new guy. He had transformed the company’s Administrative set-up and made it super responsive, super reliable, and efficient. In this article, I share what fundamental changes he made, and why hiring a veteran could perhaps be the solution to your administrative woes too.
Ex-Havildar (equivalent to Sergeant) Narendra Singh, Corps of Signals, set about transforming our administration in the following manner:
- Head-on Attack: NS first assessed the situation and inventoried problems. There were many. For example, over the years, new equipment has been added but had not been inventoried, stores had become chaotic, the server room was a mess and the staff were set in their ways. For this, he worked weekends, on his own. He quickly identified the key problems as 1. Disrupted systems, 2. Staff complacency, and 3. Poor monitoring and control
- Systems-based Approach: NS immediately went about resolving the problems upfront. He briefed the management, laid out his game plan and took blanket approval for changes. Then he called the staff, rejigged their charters, and made them accountable. One of them resigned, but the rest immediately responded. Their disinterest was probably the result of no leadership. Next, NS got after the systems and processes and began overhauling them – one after the other. He did this on war-footing. It involved some expenses, but each system began to fall in line. Simultaneously, he set up a kind of “administrative command center”, with a dashboard (both manual and using our ERP, excel sheets, etc, for each administrative task – routine tasks, stores, equipment, security, procurements, etc.
- Management Buy-in: NS understood that management buy-in was critical to his success. He therefore constantly consulted with and advised the management, took approvals, executed work quickly, and provided immediate feedback. The quick results enthused the management, and they went on to approve almost everything that NS had asked for.
This and other experiences prompt me to suggest veterans as Administrators for organizations, especially small and medium-sized companies that cannot afford large staff or budgets and top talent. An ex-soldier, with years of experience handling men, material, and resources on large scales is ideal for such organizations. He is confident, committed, and result-oriented. He does not hesitate to take on problems head-on and to advise the management candidly. Certainly, he has to learn much about his new environment in order to deliver. But soldiers are extremely flexible and resourceful operationally. Given a free hand, they can bring their immense experience into play and do wonders.
I am an ex-soldier myself, but my suggesting ex-soldiers in the Administration profile has less to do with veteran kinship, and more to do with an understanding of the range of abilities and experiences which a soldier gathers during his or her service. So given a free hand, handing the administration of an organization – small or large – is something that an ex-soldier understands. All that he or she needs is supportive management that understands and gives him or her reasonable time and opportunity to learn the new context and provides him the authority to put his capabilities to maximum use.
Colonel Sunil Prem (Retired)
About the Author
Colonel Sunil Prem (Retired) is MD and CEO of Brisk Olive Business Solutions Pvt Ltd, a Business Consultancy and India’s largest Field Force provider, with a network of 23,000+ ex-soldiers positioned across all 741 districts of India. Their teams are composed of trained, handpicked ex-soldiers and they are employed for tasks at which they excel such as Surveys, Audits, Market Research, Promotions, Trainings, Project Execution, Verifications, Rectifications, Last Mile Connectivity tasks, etc. Brisk Olive also provides recruitment of veterans. They train and transition veterans, to ensure a win-win for corporate and veterans.
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