The Journey: Motivation

It's often easier just to complete tasks yourself, but that is not what you, as an officer, should do.

Stroke Someone's Ego
Often motivation requires you to stroke someone's ego. Every member needs to feel like they contribute to the team. To keep people motivated, you may need to reinforce each member's own contribution. Give assignments to a senior member that will showcase their talents and experience so that junior members will realize their value. This helps eliminate the "what has he done lately" argument.

Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is a tremendous motivator. Praise a junior man in public. A pat on the back and thank you will keep the member working in a productive way, but will serve as a guide to other members on "how it should be done". Saying thank you is the easiest way to acknowledge a members effort.

"If you're not happy here I will find a spot for you"
A change in assignment is always a good motivator. Depending on the situation, a change in assignment to a different company, a busier or slower place or something more challenging will re-energize an individual. The reassignment must not be seen as a punitive measure. It should be to improve the member's own personal growth. The focus should be on a fresh start. Promotions will also do that to an extent. How do you handle it when you are asking the guys to do what you have been complaining about? Now you must lead by example.

Keep The Job "New"
To motivate people you may need to reach people on several different levels. Often it is necessary to use a combination of levels to complete one task. Remember how it felt when you joined? When it was all new and exciting. Remember the zeal and enthusiasm that you had for each new opportunity and challenge? That is what you need to touch on in each and every one of your members. You need to make the job "new" again.

As I continue with this series I would like to get some feedback from you. Comments and questions are welcome. Stories of success, as well as failure, should be shared so we all can learn from them. Share your stories with me by e-mail at:

Look for the next article, "The Journey: Real Experience." As always, stay safe.

CHRISTOPHER FLATLEY, a Contributing Editor, is a 20-year veteran of the FDNY and a lieutenant currently assigned to Ladder Company 21 in Manhattan. Chris has twice served as chief of the Blauvelt, NY, Volunteer Fire Company and is currently the assistant chief and training coordinator. He is a nationally certified Fire Instructor 1 and is an instructor at the Rockland County, NY, Fire Training Center and holds a degree in fire protection technology. He is a Master Exercise Practitioner on the Exercise Design Team through the Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness. You can reach Chris by e-mail at: