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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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I am confused by your statement as well Dusty. I had said in my reply to Katy that it wouldn't happen over night, but if you have other thoughts I would like to hear your perspective. That's how we all learn!

John
Dusty:

I might be misunderstanding your viewpoint, but it seems to me that what the "group" wants and what is needed by the department is often two different things. Katy seems to have been placed in a situation where there was a strategic move in mind, only she and her other company members weren't informed of their role in it until the move was made. Tactical misfire.
I have been in Katy's shoes before, and it isn't ever pleasant. Its a good experience though, and really helps to mold your skills as a communicator and leader within the team, ...if you allow it to be a positive. Here is the thing, if the "group" or the "incoming member" feels their priorities or agenda is more important than the mission of the department they work for, they all need to rethink their position. In my experience, the group think is usually the self-motivated, "me first" kind of thought pattern. On the other hand, well intentioned agents of change often lack a guiding hand and are left to their own efforts, sometimes overly aggressive or lacking finesse.
Looks to me like Katy is in a position to be an agent of change, was set up to be such, but wasn't told about it until standing in front of the people she needs to be a change agent for. Like I said, bad tactics on the management side of things. However, if she can keep her head up and swim, with a little style and good people skills, maybe she can have an effect. Not for the Chief that put her there, but for the department and the people the department serves. The "group" is often to quick to forget why we do the job in the first place.

You are right Dusty. You can't rush it, these types of environments can take months or years of diligent, lead by example effort. And often, you are entirely alone in doing what you know, in your gut, is the right thing to do.

"I am not here for me, I am here for we, and we, are here for them." --Unknown

There would be less strife if more folks lived by this motto.
Where to begin?...I have to agree with Bob. One of the biggest roadblocks is the ego. Communication needs to be consistent and everyone needs to understand why things may change and see the good things the changes will accomplish. Leadership starts at the basic firefighter level and continues all the way to the top. As a CO, I feel it is paramount to be with your crews in the station and on the streets. You can't just give the orders and not be there with them in most cases. The company and organization must always be placed first (along with safety of our personnel). If the leader, both formal and informal, can set a good example and by all means be honest, than others will likely follow. There is no place in this business for selfishness! I will always stick up for my crew as long as they are "playing within the sandbox". Attention to details will help accomplish a lot and make the company much better. If you can't do this in the house, you won't do it when it really matters. Everybody replying seems to be on the same page. We have to build the future of this business. The young kids have no clue what it means to be a firefighter and it is up to us to teach them so they in turn can lead others in the future. Great topic for discussion!!!!
Hey Chris and everyone! I wanted to take a second and wish all of you happy and safe holidays. At times we get caught up in this business of ours and I know that I for one forget to think of the little things that are so important.

One example that comes to mind for me recently is a lot of the "little" stuff at the station level that goes on between shifts. This little stuff, if not attended to and allowed to fester can turn ugly in a hurry. The same drive that we have that makes us a "go-getter" also gives pride, which if left un-checked can lead to that "E" word...Ego.

I must admit, I have dropped the ball on station communications and routine station tasks of late. Perhaps feeling like the merger of our technical rescue teams, and two fire departments was more important than micromanaging the troops performing station duties. While I may feel the "big" picture of the merger is more important I still need to respect the job the station commander must do. In our organization his job is to ensure the station and apparatus is in a constant state of readiness. After a 90 minute sit down I feel like we were able to better understand each others point of view. More importantly, we were able to COMMUNICATE the missing pieces of the puzzle that led to the frustration between shifts and "boiling over" of tempers.

We may not have a common point of view. We do, however have common traits and common goals and objectives for the station and the internal and external costumers we serve. The comments and points of view discussed here have been a big help to me and I thank you all for that.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Cheers,
Scott Richardson
Hey Scott,

I just wanted to say thanks and wish you and both of your families, (house and home), a Merry Christmas and a Safe, Happy, and Prosperous New Year. I am looking forward to continued discussions throughout 2009.

While we may not agree with everything that is said on these pages...we can agree that it ALL needs to be listened to.

To all of my Brothers and Sisters out there Merry Christmas, or whatever Holiday you celebrate right now, and PLEASE be Safe and go home to your Loved ones each and every day of 2009!

God Bless,

John
Hey John,

Thank you for the wishes! I have learned from all of the posts on this and other discussions over the past year. I like your thought on listening. Something that is not said enough: "While we may not agree with everything that is said on these pages...we can agree that it ALL needs to be listened to"

At times listening seems to be a lost art in today's world. With all of the electronic means of communication we tend to forget that communication requires a sender and a receiver. If everyone agreed with all that was said we wouldn't get very far in this world. In other words, differing opinions are healthy, as long as they can be discussed with an open mind.

Thank you John and everyone who has put their thoughts to (electronic) paper here. Nothing in emergency services is an individual event; every event in emergency services is a learning opportunity.

Cheers,
Scott
Hey Scott,

I wish I listened better than I do, but I try very hard to actually hear what others are saying. However my kids may argue that point...lol.

You summed things up very well in that you cannot move forward and learn unless someone else tells you or you learn from experiencing it. The school of hard knocks so to speak. Some folks do not like to argue, but I do not mind it at all. You convince me or I convince you...as long as someone comes away with a different perspective all is good. Shake hands and move on.

The idea is to not have to learn everything the hard way. That is why I think this forum is such a benefit to all of us, because you can hear from people all over the world and garner ideas on better ways to train. The better, or smarter, we train the safer we are. I know several departments that train and train a lot...but not smart. They just do the same ol stuff in repetition and that just isn't better training.

Hell if one person knew it all they could write a book and then anyone could become a Firefighter.

Happy New Year

John
I spent four years writing Sunrise Fire, a book about firefighting for young adults. It is based on my experiences training as a firefighter, in both structural and wildland firefighting. One of the themes we worked on was building a team and what it takes to be a good leader. Here's an excerpt of the story. It describes Billy's troubles with leadership:

Walking into the early spring fire prevention class, Billy was aware of every girl in the room noticing his good looks. To everyone in the class, he appeared to be at ease. He took a seat, smiled back and lightly chatted. But inside, his stomach churned. Billy didn't know what to do. He had spotted [her] Kim at a working house fire, [freelancing] again, and was amazed. His mind struggled with wanting to be her friend and with the pressing need to correct the situation before anyone got hurt.

Meanwhile, with his Structural Fire Academy classes completed, his final exam passed, and his Firefighter Hands-on training underway, Rick [Kim's father] kept dropping hints. Rick's plan was for Billy to learn to drive the engine and, once that was done, it would be a short hop to becoming an officer. Billy hated the thought of becoming an officer. He was frustrated with his own good looks and the assumptions people made about him. They assumed he was a born leader who would . . .


- Tug of War Chapter, Sunrise Fire at: www.qualityparks.org
Hey Mindy,

Thank you for the exerpt! While most of us do not share Billy's problem (good looks...LOL), I'll bet we can relate to being in several directions, mentally and physically. My wife and I have conversations about looks and perception often.

We both agree, for example that if a beautiful woman walks into a room there are predicted reactions from everyone present. Most of the men will notice her looks first and not put a lot of creedence into her intelligence one way or the other. Most of the women will think she is mostly looks without much substance. Without communication no one will ever know...Perhaps those creating the impressions do not want to know. The men, in this case may not want her beautiful image ruined by her (perceived) lack of intelligence. The Women may feel she is prettier that they are and therefore want to believe they are more intelligent.

Perception and "delivery" of a messege" is a huge part of everything we do. Great thoughts Mindy, thank you!
Hey everyone, so sorry about the delay since my last update. But, I've enjoyed sitting back and paying attention to all the things that have been discussed on my problem and all the other spiraled conversations, and I thank all of you that have posted a reply, or just thought about these things and took it to work and applied it.

My problems have personally gone away because everyone was reassigned on shift in a big rearrangment of personel.
But the major issues where resolved by what I discovered was the best of all ideas, at least in this situation, the BC put them in the middle of town, at the busiest of stations. He let all see the problems which has forced the Lt. and his shadow to step up. It was hard for them. Their second shift, in such a rush to try to prove themselves and clear there names, they made a big mistake and went to a wrong address, completly wrong, other side of the city wrong. But, they learned. Its been a couple of months since the beginning and I belive they have began to mesh with others. They began to eat with the rest of the company, do there part of the station duties, and the biggest thing I think , they TRIED. It was helped by other members of the company allowing them to change, and accepting them. Yes, this has'nt resolved everyones issues with these people, but it has made it easier for others to learn they can work with them.



And again to all that helped thank you.
I was told this about communication / impression etc along time ago:

Perception = Reality but Reality doesn't = Truth. That is tough for most of us to accept but seems to be very accurate.

Scott Richardson said:
Hey Mindy,

Thank you for the exerpt! While most of us do not share Billy's problem (good looks...LOL), I'll bet we can relate to being in several directions, mentally and physically. My wife and I have conversations about looks and perception often.

We both agree, for example that if a beautiful woman walks into a room there are predicted reactions from everyone present. Most of the men will notice her looks first and not put a lot of creedence into her intelligence one way or the other. Most of the women will think she is mostly looks without much substance. Without communication no one will ever know...Perhaps those creating the impressions do not want to know. The men, in this case may not want her beautiful image ruined by her (perceived) lack of intelligence. The Women may feel she is prettier that they are and therefore want to believe they are more intelligent.

Perception and "delivery" of a messege" is a huge part of everything we do. Great thoughts Mindy, thank you!
David,

Can you elaborate on the perception=reality impression a little more?

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