"Happy employees’ equal happy customers. Similarly, an unhappy employee can ruin the brand experience for not just one, but numerous customers." Sir Richard Branson
How does the above quote apply to the Fire Service that we love so dearly? If you have never thought of it this way, but our bosses (the tax payers) are also our most valuable customer. If we do not treat them well each and every time we have an encounter how will they respond when we need funding for new equipment or staffing?
Who sets the tone for how we should act towards our customers? Some say that it is all of our responsibility to always do the right thing whenever we have contact with the customer. I go further to say that we should strive for having a positive contact always, regardless. If the Firefighters do not feel appreciated by their officers how are they going to treat the customers?
If the Chiefs are not investing time and energy into developing positive relationships with those whom he is charged to lead, will that lead to happy employees? In most cases, when you invest in your employees they will far exceed the expectations.
Investing implies that money is involved. I contend that investing goes far beyond money, and time and energy is much more important especially in times of severe budget constraints. Do we have mentoring programs and succession plans to develop our future leaders? Mentoring does not need to be a formalized program, it only needs to be a way for our developing firefighters to get information and guidance from those that have "been there." Succession planning needs to begin at the station level, training each person to do the job of the others on the crew, especially the company officer. Chief Officers need to be mentoring the company officers to fill their roles. Believe me, when we get our people thinking and understanding the roles and responsibilites of their leaders, they begin to think and act for themselves in a manner that is in line with the Department objectives.
Remember the "Big 4" that is the mantra sweeping the fire service that has been so eloquently promoted by Mark Von Appen. Do Your Job, Treat People Right, Give All Effort, Have An All In Attitude. The "Big 4" applies to all of our responsibilities. When our people know we care about them, they will care about the people they serve, the customers.
Stay safe and stay focused