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What do you feel is the most significant roadblock to building a team, any team. From an engine company, station crew or battalion to a special operations team such as hazardous materials or technical rescue

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Hey Drew,

Thanks for the kind words! I enjoyed reading your personal mission/vision/values statements. I believe it is important to have these. albeit everyone's would and should be a little bit different. They should ultimately drive us in the same direction...customer service whether it is internal, external, or self! You hit on that when yoou touched on apparatus preparedness. being 110%, all the time is impossible but it becomes much easier to get close if your environment (station, apparatus, crew) are trained and prepared mentally and physically.

Take care...be safe!!!
Scott


Drew Smith said:
This is a great discussion.

Scott, Todd, Ben, and John-

Your comments are like a breath of fresh air. While I'm not at all depressed or discouraged, it's nice to hear from the 20% (20% of the organization does 80% of the work). We just started a new firefighter academy class where in my "spare time" I serve and the program manager. In this class we have 15 new firefighters from about a dozen departments. This too reenergizes me. It makes me want to lead even better because these candidates have not been tainted, have yet to develope habits and can truly be led by our 25+ instructors from 12+ departments. Most of our instructors are 20+ years members of the fire service and live the fire service. But we have some young blood that lives it as well.

As I read the previous posts and contemplated, I remembered the following personal sort of mission/vision/values I wrote up 12 years ago and which still sits on my desk. A few times a year one of our membes will come into my office and I'll catch them reading it. I can see they think "does he really mean it?" I hope they answer YES!



What’s Important to Me

Enjoying work

Completing assigned work

Knowing my rig is 100% ready, without question

Training and Public Education

Being Proud of the rigs, building, us
To reach this point, I keep the rigs, building, us as clean and neat as possible
You only get once change to make a first impressions

Treating members, others, customers like I want to be treated

Not talking down to a customer

Doing a little extra for the customer
Such as providing directions, assisting with securing the home on an EMS call, and salvage work at fires, no matter how small or large

I don’t always get to do these things 100% of the time, and sometimes I’m laxed, but I still keep on trying. -Drew Smith
I Just want to take a moment and say....Damn it is good to hear from you guys, and Todd...Welcome my Brother from east of me. I knew you would fit in well here! Looking forward to some more GREAT discussions!!!!!

John

Scott Richardson said:
Hey Drew,

Thanks for the kind words! I enjoyed reading your personal mission/vision/values statements. I believe it is important to have these. albeit everyone's would and should be a little bit different. They should ultimately drive us in the same direction...customer service whether it is internal, external, or self! You hit on that when yoou touched on apparatus preparedness. being 110%, all the time is impossible but it becomes much easier to get close if your environment (station, apparatus, crew) are trained and prepared mentally and physically.

Take care...be safe!!!
Scott


Drew Smith said:
This is a great discussion.

Scott, Todd, Ben, and John-

Your comments are like a breath of fresh air. While I'm not at all depressed or discouraged, it's nice to hear from the 20% (20% of the organization does 80% of the work). We just started a new firefighter academy class where in my "spare time" I serve and the program manager. In this class we have 15 new firefighters from about a dozen departments. This too reenergizes me. It makes me want to lead even better because these candidates have not been tainted, have yet to develope habits and can truly be led by our 25+ instructors from 12+ departments. Most of our instructors are 20+ years members of the fire service and live the fire service. But we have some young blood that lives it as well.

As I read the previous posts and contemplated, I remembered the following personal sort of mission/vision/values I wrote up 12 years ago and which still sits on my desk. A few times a year one of our membes will come into my office and I'll catch them reading it. I can see they think "does he really mean it?" I hope they answer YES!



What’s Important to Me

Enjoying work

Completing assigned work

Knowing my rig is 100% ready, without question

Training and Public Education

Being Proud of the rigs, building, us
To reach this point, I keep the rigs, building, us as clean and neat as possible
You only get once change to make a first impressions

Treating members, others, customers like I want to be treated

Not talking down to a customer

Doing a little extra for the customer
Such as providing directions, assisting with securing the home on an EMS call, and salvage work at fires, no matter how small or large

I don’t always get to do these things 100% of the time, and sometimes I’m laxed, but I still keep on trying. -Drew Smith
I've found one of the biggest things blocking teambuilding is a 'leader' that discredits those above him. I can't believe officers don't understand that when they do this, they teach their subordinates to argue, disagree and voice opinions. Why should a team trust the leader that isn't dedicated to the team he also plays for? Among the most memorable scenes from Saving Private Ryan is the explanation by Tom Hanks, when asked what he thought of their mission. He explains that complaining to them is not an option. The mission of an officer is to carry out the mission, not identify everything that's wrong with it. If you're an officer struggling to build a team, look in the mirror.
Hi Eric:

You pose a great point. I agree with your alalysis of the destruction such behavior causes. I am sure, at one time or another we have all been guilty of this. The leadership comes when we realize we have done this, or that it is happening within our team. That's when it is time to take a step back and figure out why it is happening. I believe that (if we can find the root cause) we can reverse this attitude over time.

I have a crew most officers would dream of having. To a person they are the most motivated, knowledgeable, dedicated firefighters I have ever worked with. That said, they are hard chargers that are always learning. This type of crew is an entirely different challenge. That is, they are so inquisitive that they constantly challenge with the question, why. This NEVER occurs on incidents or during operations but presents a great challenge and learning experience for the entire crew. The crew understands that, while we may not understand or agree with the decisions made by the chain of command but we have a responsibility to uphold those decisions.

Food for thought.

Eric Shields said:
I've found one of the biggest things blocking teambuilding is a 'leader' that discredits those above him. I can't believe officers don't understand that when they do this, they teach their subordinates to argue, disagree and voice opinions. Why should a team trust the leader that isn't dedicated to the team he also plays for? Among the most memorable scenes from Saving Private Ryan is the explanation by Tom Hanks, when asked what he thought of their mission. He explains that complaining to them is not an option. The mission of an officer is to carry out the mission, not identify everything that's wrong with it. If you're an officer struggling to build a team, look in the mirror.
"Private Ryan" is one of the best examples of Leadership as it truly is from the trenches. Excellent point, brother!

Eric Shields said:
I've found one of the biggest things blocking teambuilding is a 'leader' that discredits those above him. I can't believe officers don't understand that when they do this, they teach their subordinates to argue, disagree and voice opinions. Why should a team trust the leader that isn't dedicated to the team he also plays for? Among the most memorable scenes from Saving Private Ryan is the explanation by Tom Hanks, when asked what he thought of their mission. He explains that complaining to them is not an option. The mission of an officer is to carry out the mission, not identify everything that's wrong with it. If you're an officer struggling to build a team, look in the mirror.
Good food. One of the best examples of good leadership I have seen lately is by someone I am proud to call my leader. I haven't often had the opportunity to point out fine leadership traits in the men I have worked for, but this new guy, he's doing great! Being a lateral hire, and for the job I applied for, I didn't have high hopes. But I decided after meeting him that my attitude needed adjusting and that if he was to succeed in taking over at such a high level, he needed the company officers behind him. So I threw in.
One of the many challenges that came flying at us was from the old "shift wars" arena. To his credit, the new battalion made it quite clear to all, and especially his captains that he would not participate, fire back or attack the other shifts. His policy was to perform our duties to the best of our ability and not pass on the crap that was passed to us. He simply refused to play that game. You all know how it goes. Even when you don't want to play along, the shift wars are ever present. We obeyed, and our example, I hope has helped with the crews. Now, six months later, the new BC is doing well, shift wars continue, and our shift really isn't a part of it. His stance has paid off so far. My new boss, he's alright.

Scott Richardson said:
Hi Eric:

You pose a great point. I agree with your alalysis of the destruction such behavior causes. I am sure, at one time or another we have all been guilty of this. The leadership comes when we realize we have done this, or that it is happening within our team. That's when it is time to take a step back and figure out why it is happening. I believe that (if we can find the root cause) we can reverse this attitude over time.

I have a crew most officers would dream of having. To a person they are the most motivated, knowledgeable, dedicated firefighters I have ever worked with. That said, they are hard chargers that are always learning. This type of crew is an entirely different challenge. That is, they are so inquisitive that they constantly challenge with the question, why. This NEVER occurs on incidents or during operations but presents a great challenge and learning experience for the entire crew. The crew understands that, while we may not understand or agree with the decisions made by the chain of command but we have a responsibility to uphold those decisions.

Food for thought.

Eric Shields said:
I've found one of the biggest things blocking teambuilding is a 'leader' that discredits those above him. I can't believe officers don't understand that when they do this, they teach their subordinates to argue, disagree and voice opinions. Why should a team trust the leader that isn't dedicated to the team he also plays for? Among the most memorable scenes from Saving Private Ryan is the explanation by Tom Hanks, when asked what he thought of their mission. He explains that complaining to them is not an option. The mission of an officer is to carry out the mission, not identify everything that's wrong with it. If you're an officer struggling to build a team, look in the mirror.
I don't think there are roadblocks to building a successful team. There may be speed bumps that slow you down, but with the right focus and enthusiasm to succeed, there's not stopping any team. One of the things I think is commonly overlooked is the need for team members to still be able to keep their individual identity. Yes, be a part of the team. Wear the team jersey (or uniform), perform your role for the benefit of the team goals, but maintain your identity. That individual perspective and diversity is part of what makes a team strong. Rich Gasaway www.RichGasaway.com
Hello Doctor and Welcome!

Sorry, I don't know how you prefer to be addressed! You speak of speed bumps, we speak of roadblocks, sorry but that is just semantics. Attitudes, leadership, and many other issues within a team can stop it in it's proverbial tracks!! You may call it what you wish however the end result remains the same.

Individuality/diversity is extremely important, and I agree with you 100 percent! As long as it is at the station!!! Anyone is welcome to say anything, make any suggestions, etc, while we are there. We can all learn from each other, and we all bring something different to the table. That is part of what makes a Great team great! If we were all the same, we would not be very strong!

But when the ship hits the sand....there is NO place for individuality! We are one, or we are not a team! When we are not a team, there can be anything from additional damage to a person's property, to loss of life. Neither is acceptable, if it was because We failed as a team. Individuality on scene promotes freelancing. Freelancing promotes disaster!

I would like to hear more details of your thoughts, as your post was very brief. We may well be on the same or similar page here, or we may not. Please feel free to express yourself in more detail.

Be Safe!!

John



Richard B. Gasaway, PhD said:
I don't think there are roadblocks to building a successful team. There may be speed bumps that slow you down, but with the right focus and enthusiasm to succeed, there's not stopping any team. One of the things I think is commonly overlooked is the need for team members to still be able to keep their individual identity. Yes, be a part of the team. Wear the team jersey (or uniform), perform your role for the benefit of the team goals, but maintain your identity. That individual perspective and diversity is part of what makes a team strong. Rich Gasaway www.RichGasaway.com
John,

Well said. I was formatting a response to the good Doctor in my head as you posted yours and you beat me to it. But Doctor Gasaway, you have helped me to put my finger on a key point. I feel very strongly that individuality is critical to a successful team, but it is up to the leader of the team to harness that individuality and use it to the teams advantage, and the team members to set aside their individuality when the moment of performance has arrived.
In my opinion, diversity is an overused word these days. I frequently encounter a misconception about this culture of ours; that we somehow brain wash everyone or try to make everyone into a military robot. Any fire officer that is worth his salt as a leader will tell you that the individual personalities of his company are vital to the performance of that company. Of course we are diverse, we are individual people. But what makes us good at our jobs and what sets us apart is that we lay that individuality aside, willingly on a regular basis. Those who hold their "diversity and individuality" so tightly, as if afraid they might lose it, will never actually be able to apply those traits to the team, because they have been reserved for the altar of "SELF".
Dr. Gasaway,

I would like to welcome you to Building a Team. I appreciate your willingness to sit down with the group and discuss team building. I understand your analogy regarding speed bumps and road blocks. I think we would all agree that individual perspective is essential to the development and cohesiveness of a team. That being said, I believe there are speed bumps and there are road blocks.

Case in point; a (single vehicle) roll-over accident in an Interstate with a single person trapped. The fire department has been handling this accident for decades without the use of advanced vehicle stabilization kits, such as struts. and advanced hydraulic extrication equipment capable of disentangling current heavy steel used to "fortify newer cars.

An example of a Operational challenge (speed bump) using this scenario is: Inability of firefighters to recognize appropriate resources needed to respond to specific incidents outside the "traditional firefighter" role. This is a speed bump because, provided the appropriate educational forum, my extrication instructors can demonstrate the "who, what, when, where, why, and how" of these tools; their integration with standard firefighting practices, and the necessity of that integration.

An example of a roadblock is a member of the command staff being unwilling to change operational response plans to ensure the appropriate technical rescue resources are responding to these incidents so a Plan-B is accounted for before it is needed. This is a road block because the command staff exerts a tremendous amount of input into the operational response guidelines. If they are unwilling to listen objectively to the subject matter experts within their own organization, the need outcome will not happen.

Again, I appreciate and look forward to your discussion.

Scott Richardson

Richard B. Gasaway, PhD said:
I don't think there are roadblocks to building a successful team. There may be speed bumps that slow you down, but with the right focus and enthusiasm to succeed, there's not stopping any team. One of the things I think is commonly overlooked is the need for team members to still be able to keep their individual identity. Yes, be a part of the team. Wear the team jersey (or uniform), perform your role for the benefit of the team goals, but maintain your identity. That individual perspective and diversity is part of what makes a team strong. Rich Gasaway www.RichGasaway.com
Scott:

Excellent example. You hit it, Brother.
On September 11th of this year I had the honor of climbing the Quest Tower building twice with 342 firefighters, most in much better shape than I. Those in the fire service understand why we still have heavy hearts on that day. I must admit, I was glad when we got to floor 110. Whenever I thought I was to exhausted to continue, I looked at the picture I had of Billy. Billy is FF William R. Johnston. He was a station member of a longtime family friend of mine, Uncle Patrick. I was overwhelmed to hear that I could carry him up the stairs with me. I was honored just to be there, much less carry someone I was familiar with.

That night I had the honor of delivering a bell ceremony at the Celtic House Pub, the site of many an Honor Guard meetings, birthdays, promotion parties, memorials, and so on. There is no greater honor that the honor of paying tribute to those who gave so much.

To the 343: You are always in our thoughts, you will forever be in our prayers; we shall never forget the sacrifice you have made. God bless you, your family and your Brothers!

Scott

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