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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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Great point Brent,

Trust is something that can take years to build and seconds to destroy! a strong leader can take any group of individuals and guide them towards being a great team if they are trustworthy. I think the movie Remember the Titans is a great example of strength through diversity.
The most significant roadblock to building team?... There are many, but among the top of the list I would put - poor leadership, lack of motivation, not buying into a common goal and any member putting themselves ahead of the team. You need to have a leader who the members can trust and believe in. A leader has to put the interests of the team ahead of everything else. A leader must set goals and then provide the direction and the opportunities for the team to achieve those goals. The members of the team have an obligation to be motivated and stay focused on the teams goals. The members must be willing to expend themselves in the best interest of their teammates. Everyone must buy into and feel a sense of ownership in the team and its goals. A team must be able to, at the very least, reach consensus on how to best handle issues facing the team while staying focused on the goals. Team building is an ongoing process, you can never take a "day off" from the team and never loose sight of the goals that have been set.
I think you hit the nail on the head Bill,

Often times members that are involved in extracurricular activities or teams such as technical rescue have a no-nonsense-get it done attitude. Poor leadership of these dynamic individuals will lead to poor morale and lack of motivation. There tends to be a several informal leaders on teams like this.

One goal we identified for this year is to develop a special operations awareness class for company officers. We firmly believe that the Battalion Chiefs desperately need this class as well. How would you suggest we get BC buy in to take, and more importantly understand the need for these services? These BCs do not have much experiences with thee type of calls which is part of the problem.

Thanks for your input!
I wrote a little something on the subject of teamwork elsewhere that seems to be appropriate. You guys are hitting all of the main issues, so to say what you all said very succinctly and accurately would be ridiculous. Another important effort, however, is remembering why you built the team in the first place. Teamwork involves a cohesive group of people gathered to achieve a goal. So setting goals, understanding the objectives to meet those goals, and having a plan is essential for team building. Then of all things, make sure you celebrate your success, because it's THERE where you build that bond, where you all realize what you have been through together and that you really are part of a high-functioning team.

A team killer every time is an aimless team wandering around with no purpose and no plan. Know what it is you want to do and lead your team to victory! GO IRISH! (Oh, sorry, got a little caught up in the moment).
I guess just "shooting from the hip" that one big roadblock would be having members that can't (or won't) be humble enough to work with others for the good of the team. You could have some good people individually that can't pull it together to be a good team. Likewise, you could really build a great team with members who "on paper" don't look like a top-notch group, but work with each other and develop together.
Equally as important (I think) is having the right leader for the team (ethics, skills, temperament, dedication, etc)
Hey Jeff,

Great points! Having all the education and experience in the world does not make a good team. Having the ability to harness all of that experience and education and communicate effectively with each other is a good start in the right direction.

I think part of the problem is that some are ego driven which in turn leads some to believe their way is the best and only way. I also think that most that come to this site believe otherwise and that is why we are here.

I am not the most experienced technical rescuer on this site by any stretch of the imagination. I have been involved in emergency services for 25 years and technical rescue for the majority of that time. Still, I struggle with members who have been involved with technical rescue for the same amount of time and are resistive to every opportunity for improvement (READ: Change). Any suggestions on how to best help them appreciate this opportunity would be appreciated.

At times just want to tell them I remember the hip boots, riding tailboard and the cotton duct coats too and to quit b******* about change because improvement happens whether they like it or not...Not the best approach I know!


I know it is hard to let go of some of the guys who have been around since the team has been started, but if they are resistant to change then I think that is time to say that this is the direction we are moving and they can follow in this new direction (or hell, how about giving some input and helping lead in the new direction) or it is time for them to move on. Things are ever changing in this field and especially Tech Rescue! To have folks who have not been involved but want to tell you how things should be done is counterproductive and a detrimental to the entire team. Like you said, a lot of folks are living on how it used to be. I think that if things pan out the way we want them to then people will remove themselves just from the sheer amount of work that needs to be done to get where we should be.

One word: Ego!

This can be from the CO or any other member. No one on the team is more important than anyone else. The formal leader must realize that he/she must do just that-lead. Everyone on the team knows what they know. Everyone on the team should be striving to know what the rest of the team knows.
I have never mitgated a scene by myself. Never take credit for the positive outcome. Always take responsibility for negative one.
I like the last line Bob; A strong leader should be the first one to take responsibility and the last one to take the credit. The success of our technical rescue team has little to do with me and a lot to do with the hard work of my discipline specialists. this handful of leaders is always looking to improve themselves and the team.
Hey Scott,

As far as the BCs go, what about a risk-benefit analysis? At some point in time one was probably done or you guys wouldn't exist. If you don't have or can't find one then create a new one. Sometimes management needs to see the importance in Black and White. I know they are a pain in the * to some degree and I don't know your coverage area BUT it is much harder to ignore paper and pen than to blow off what someone says.

I don't know what I can say about the rest that hasn't already been said. Ego, leadership, trust, responsibility, giving to the team, taking from the team, (and in my opinion anyone that says that they don't take is foolish or a liar). I try to take something from every scene or incident regardless of the outcome. Teaching what you are the best at, and learning from what the others are best at it. Which is the most depends completely upon your weakness as a team. I have been doing ropes and knots since 85 and can't say that I know anything close to everything I need or want to. Unfortunately there are always more questions than there are answers sir but stay the course.

As I was writing this I thought of one more thing and maybe it is the most important....Faith. No matter how many times you get shot down or whatever, have faith that you will make it as a damn good team.

Be Safe and good luck.

Hey John,

Thanks for the encouraging words. We just finished a consolidation study on the feasibility of merging two departments. We are now in the process of developing an implementation plan so the timing is ideal. Our response area has more than doubled since I got hired and we have over 20 million sq ft of construction in the works. Suffice it to say we have a lot of target hazards, especially for trench collapse, rope rescue (a lot of hi-rise cranes in operation) and structural collapse.

Again, thanks for the encouraging words!

Hey Chris,

I think you will see some pretty big changes now that the merger voting is out of the way. We are going to need to reduce our technical rescuer pool down to a manageable number for proficiency. I think the survey sent out to everyone did most of that for us. I will give anyone who whats it the tools they need to be successful. I draw the line at babysitting though. I want to make sure my communication is clear, concise, and understood. I also want to ensure I understand where the members are coming from. After that, We have a team to run. I welcome anyone who wants to be a part of progressive change. I thank all of those for their service that got us where we are but if they are tapped out it is probably time to move on for their own sake as well as that of the team.

BE SAFE...Scooter

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