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I once heard my Fire Chief address a class of new recruits and he told them something that has stuck with me. He told them, "Boys, whether I give you a pat on the back or a kick in the a**, it comes from the same place; my heart."

That concept seems to be lost to many. In a day where Political Correctness would be more appropriately called Political Pandering, it seems like the ability correct a person in any other manner then in a stoic, "Spok" like demeanor, is veiwed as out of line. Now before you misunderstand my point, I'm not advocating being abusive. I'm talking about very straight forward, honest critisism when an employee screws up.

A couple of weeks ago I got to hear Ch. Lasky recall a time when a Chief "chewed his butt" one week and the very next week, the same Chief called Lasky back into his office and "chewed him out again." Lasky recalls the experience as a life changing event for the good.

I wonder if some of our marginal employees or mutts would have ended up as a mutt if they would have had someone care enough to rip them a new one when the bad behavior first started and began to become that person's M.O.?

I am also curious to hear from any of you about a time when you can recall that a good ole' fashion "Come to Jesus" meeting had the desired effect?

Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I know of some times when I got set straight that probably saved my career. But what say you?

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I agree and I blame Opra and Dr. Phil for the way things are:), I had a come to Jesus talk back in the mid 90s, I was a real screw up and crossed the line with my mouth one too many times. My Chief took me in the office and told me "I know you aspire to be an officer some day, but if you dont change your ways, you will be lucky to be a Firefighter at the end of the year!" Then he gave me 6 shifts off without pay, let me tell you I got the point! That same Chief promoted me to LT and then Capt. He sent me to school, and supported me every step of the way. Now I look back and think that he saved my career by coming down hard on me when I needed it. As a Captain I am the same way, I will always support and protect my guys, but when they need the talk we have it right then and there (not in front of others).
Excellent example Brian. That's my point exactly. Thanks for sharing.
In the mentoring topic there was discussion about not expending the effort on those that were destined to run the recliner. I disagreed with that statement for the exact reasons you put forth here.

Those that have not shown you their potential are just waiting for their opportunity, or something like that goes the quote.

You have to believe that everyone has the ability, and I fell like we owe it to ourselves to make sure those that 'get left behind" catch the next bus. Our very safety depends on it. There aren't a lot of places to hide on the fire floor, and it todays limited manpower world, we need all the help we can get.

I have always appreciated those times when I was told exactly how I did, both good and bad. I can't fix what i don't know. So if my bosses decided to keep my screw ups to themselves, well then how can I correct them?

I wonder how much of this stems from the lack of preparedness some Officers are given as they move into their new roles. Going from being one of the kids, to Mom or Dad can be a struggle. Many are afraid that their troops won't like them so they overlook things to appear kind.
Most excellent brother Dave. I can't wait to share with you all an ethical decision scenario I ran with my officers. It will validate what you have said to a tee Dave.
looking forward to it brother.
Hello fellow dinosaurs,
Yes Yes Yes! I can't figure out why bosses stopped the practice of informing their people when their work or performance was either not up to snuf or totally miserable. News flash- If you are a boss, a Lieutenant, a captain, a chief, it is your JOB, your OBLIGATION to set people straight who need it. This modern day, feel good, take what you can from these poor souls does not, and will never work. A strong and pointed discussion in the chiefs office has set many a wondering soul on the path to greatness. If you are a company officer in any fire department in any state in the union, reward and compliment your high achieving folks and rattle the cages of the people who are along for the ride. There are dozens, no, hundreds of ways of getting this done. It depends on who needs the talking to and who is doing the talking. It depends on what is or is not being done and for how long. There are lots of variables here but one point is pretty clear. If you do or say nothing to someone who is performing or behaving badly, you are saying it is OK!
I agree with you all that as a leader, we assume the responsibility to give every member the opportunity to succeed. However, what about the individual who just does not care? No matter how much you coach, teach, lecture, remind and give them the good old chewing of a new one, they just don't change.

I am in that exact situation now and unfortunately, my Chief appears to have taken a special interest and has given him a second chance four times. He has come to us via six other company officers and while I am very proud to say that he has done better here than his previous assignments, he can not work unsupervised. It is like that movie Groundhog Day. We have involved our Deputy Chief and have taken all the correct steps in trying to provide for him. Company drills, one on one's, peer assistance from the other jakes assigned with him, counselling, verbal and written vebral warnings. However his performance has reached it's plateau and when we talk and try to solicit feedback as to how we can better provide for him, the response is a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders. All this has been brought to the Chief and we get no backing from him.

We have not given up on him and continue to do the job entrusted to us, but sometimes they just like to call themselves firefighter not be one.
No disrespect - but I think you indentified the problem - the Chief's unwillingness to address the issue.

No disrespect taken. That is exactly the problem and ties into what you all have said.
Don't think you are alone in that world either brother. The unchecked "left turn guy" (you know the one that goes left when we all go right) is a common problem. It is frustrating as a peer to come to work and do more than is expected while watching "lefty" get paid the same amount for doing below the minimum.

Of course it isn't the $$$ issue, but you understand what I am saying.
Years ago I worked for a small department. The Chief there cared more about us then most of our fathers. You went out of your way not to let him down. No grievences or lawsuits, just straight up talk when you did well AND when you did not. As a very smart nineteen year old tough guy ,I thought this guy was a small time clown. To this day, twenty two years later, he is one of the best guys I ever worked for.
And therein lies a problem. Correct, we all have them and everyone knows them. If the straight forward talk and the progressive disapline at the company level does not work, then a true leader at the top would take the appropriate steps to either follow the company and shift commanders actions and recomendations and get them in line or last course is termination.

I don't feel sending the message that here are the expectations and here is what will happen if you do not meet them is a bad thing. I tell my guys all the time, being friendly and socializing is a great bonus but I am not here to be your pal. I am here to give you 100% and give you what you need to be able to do your job and go home safe at the end of the tour as best I can.

The cancer that is being created by the special kid gloves treatment is that we now have good firefighters questioning why they need to care and why they are held accountable. I know the soultion is to keep on doing what we are doing and like Chief Salka points out acknowledge the folks who are giving their best and also document and address the folks who are not giving their best and wait for an administration change.


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