It’s the week of Halloween, and Zombies are everywhere.There’s even one in my neighbor’s front yard. And yes, they’re in our fire departments too. You’ve seen them, those firefighters walking around unaware of their surroundings. They’re unable to think for themselves; they’re ambulant but require outside direction. How do they get that way? What infects them and transforms them from thinking, engaged firefighters into brain-dead, disconnected zombie firefighters? It’s those micromanaging fire officers who drain the brains of our firefighters.
One of the most important functions a fire officer has is management, right? Here’s how Zombie Management works against us. An increase in fire officer management decreases the level of firefighter brain use. A fire officer who micromanages every detail creates brainless zombie firefighters, while the effective officer who allows full autonomy builds thinking responsible firefighters. So the obvious point here (unless you too are a zombie) is that the more you officers micromanage your firefighters, the less they will use their brains, making it more likely that they will become “zombies.” We don’t want zombies working with us on the fire ground.
Ask any fire officer which they prefer: thinking firefighters or mindless zombies who respond only as directed? I’m sure the answer would be, “I want smart firefighters who can think and adapt to any situation, firefighters with initiative who perform safely and effectively without detailed direction.” Then ask those same fire officers what their management style is, and none of them will admit that they’re micromanagers.
Now, ask any firefighter which they prefer: an officer who empowers them through trust and responsibility, or a control freak who second-guesses everything they do? Again, the answer should be, “I want an officer who believes in me and helps me grow.” Then ask those firefighters what they really think about micromanagers.
Do you work for a zombie manager? Are you a zombie manager? What causes a manager to act this way? Most micromanagers are driven by one, or all, of the following issues:
If you have been in the fire service for any length of time, I’m sure you have been exposed to some form of zombie management. Micromanaging is immediately recognized by firefighters. Officers who micromanage inhibit firefighter development, restrict organizational growth and turn firefighters into zombies.
Finding the appropriate balance between directing, delegating, and doing is one of the many challenges for fire officers today. The goal is not to create mindless zombie firefighters, but to grow adaptable, thinking leaders. The message is simple: Don’t be afraid to manage, but know how, when and where to do it.
Be Safe and Help People.
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