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The Military Veteran’s Guide to Civilian Lingo In The Workplace
When I was a staff officer in the Army, once a quarter we’d meet for a day of the most painfully long PowerPoint briefs you can imagine. Quarterly training briefs (QTBs) would lay out all of our unit’s training goals and our overarching status on our mission essential task list (METL). These meetings were a long list of slides with red, amber, or green bubbles that gave a snapshot of how close we made it to our goals.
Turns out, the civilian world has many of the same processes. Actually, the larger organization you join, the more likely it is to feel like the military. That’s why I was surprised when I joined a startup and we had a meeting that felt just like a QTB. Granted, we were on the large side of a startup, with 140 people, but when we assembled for an “all hands meeting,” I saw the projector fire up and slides load, I felt like I was right back in the Fort Riley, Kansas battalion classroom.
While the format felt mighty familiar — each section head presenting what their team accomplished in the last quarter and setting goals for the next — the acronyms were different (and thankfully, they were using Google Slides, not PowerPoint).
Once you make the jump to a civilian job, you’ll have to do some internal translating for the first few months. To help you get started, here is a selection of acronyms and phrases you need to know:
All hands meeting or town hall: This is what many companies name their monthly or quarterly meetings that the entire staff attends.
OKR: Objectives and Key Results. This goal framework was originally developed by Intel’s CEO and later made popular by Google. Many startups and tech companies use OKRs the way we used METL in the Army. For example, in the military, an objective might be to make a battalion 90% deployable. A key result would be all companies reaching a 95% rate for weapons qualification or hitting 90% for medical readiness. A civilian company’s objective could be to increase profit by 10% month over month for the next six months. A key result for a tech company could be increasing page views from 300,000 to 800,000 in those six months. Another key result could be hitting app download numbers each month. Results are quantifiable markers of progress toward the objective.
KPI: Key Performance Indicators. In the military a KPI could be PT scores. A civilian example could be customer service ratings or number of fans on social media. Anything that indicates performance — good or bad — can be an indicator.
Fiscal Year (FY): Unlike the military’s fiscal year, based on the U.S. government’s October schedule, civilian fiscal years are whenever the company decides to mark a year in regards to accounting. Some start in January at the beginning of the new year. But, in some industries, a June fiscal year is the norm.
EOD: End of Day. This is the civilian version of COB; end of day versus close of business — it means the same thing.
PM: Product or product manager, most often heard at tech companies or digital agencies.
Looping you in: Adding you to the conversation.
Circle back: We’ll come back to it.
It’s a safe bet you’ll hear more acronyms specific to the industry you choose than the ones outlined above. And, over time, you’ll get to know civilian jargon just as well as you learned the military’s endless amount. But it’s always smart to learn some of the language before you even set foot in an interview. In my experience, at least, I heard OKRs in my first interview and had to scramble to figure out what it meant.
Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.