In Part 1 of this series, we took a look at some of the reasons for stress the company officer might experience when it comes to training at the company level. In Part 2, we began to address ways our company officer can enhance the safety of his people while improving his or her own career prospects. In this final article, we’ll take a look at some ways we can motivate a company into being more professionally oriented and more interested in the “job.”
Other ways to foster company success
Up to this point, we concentrated mainly on strategies whereby the fire officer can create an environment where his or her people are protected to some degree and, in doing so, the fire officer can also maintain his or her motivation of the job. But there are other potential avenues to support a company that is experiencing the issues we mentioned.
As a company officer, consider ways to improve company morale and team building by starting a grass roots program to alter the culture starting with your next shift.
Some solutions may include:
• Empowering your people to complete certain activities
Empowerment is a great tool and can work one of two ways. As a company officer, you can approach a member and ask him or her to complete a task that might be of great interest to them. The other way is a member approaches you and asks if they can have your permission to work towards some goal that would help the group. For example, say a firefighter asks permission to build a training prop or wants to create a lesson plan for training. Absolutely! Support him, allow him to use his initiative and offer him any support including contacts that may be of further aid to his project. Give him the freedom to try his best!
Another example would be to give a member a task of teaching a short segment of a particular topic. Maybe the member has an interest in power tools. They may gladly accept the challenge of wanting to teach their skill in the use of, say cutting tools. I had a company member who showed an interest in this very topic and actually brought to work a variety of metal items of different strengths for the other members to work with. He brought in steel chains of various grades, brake drums and several other items of various strengths just to show different metals.
This enthusiastic member went into great depth with the tools, blades and techniques to cut through various metals. This session allowed members to actually see the strengths and limitations of certain cutting instruments, the dangers associated with them and the manipulation of the tool. This is a great example of empowerment.
• See if you can develop a sense of unit pride, possibly through competition with other companies or through mutual aid drills
Training with other companies in the challenges of the fire attack may be a way to increase pride in the company and, in turn, motivation. For example, stretching a hoseline into a vacant building quickly and effectively with company personnel is a means to strengthen a company skill, but it also creates a spirit of friendly competition that can be advantageous. Just make sure you control the training so the competitive nature of the activity doesn’t get out of hand. Make sure to also include safe practices as part of the “grading” process during each challenge!
• You don’t want to “carry” your people, nor are you a “babysitter.” Rather, help them to develop
This could even include helping them to achieve promotion through company-level training sessions geared towards the upcoming promotional exam. Maybe you can do a PowerPoint presentation on building construction as it relates to what might be on the upcoming exam.
These are just some examples of creating motivation, strengthening the bond and bringing your company to that “5-Star” status.