Good ol' Boy System???
So, this relates to my last question about promotional things...and I would say is moreso the root of my problems.
Is there a way, or are they any good suggestions, as to how to beat out the good ol' boy system with promotions.
I ask this question on not only my behalf, but on the behalf of my department. It is pretty degrading to the guy's morale when they see the less experienced, less trained people get moved up because they are "the chosen one." That is a huge problem to morale my department has faced recently. I know I should keep on giving my best, as with everyone else, but it just seems like no matter what is tried, the chosen ones always succeed. It goes as far as giving an idea, and it be looked down upon...until the right person "has the idea."
I know my department isn't the only one that this has occured in. Anyone with any experiences, good or bad, I would love for you to share them with me.
I would start with only promoting women. Problem solved.
Originally Posted by fdinspector3
I've heard this all too often. The easy way to beat this is be prepared before you show up and place yourself in a position where they can't go around you. The problem is too many candidates haven't figured this out.
I talk to people like this all the time. They are shocked that candidates you mentioned come out with less credentials, seniority, the village idiot, or guys they call the “Car Salesman” type, "the chosen one" get the badge that had their name on it.
I think these chosen one's have just learned how to be better prepared for every step of the assessment process. Nothing is going to change until you try and use the same plan.
Car salesman type? What's that exactly?
The guy who comes into every thread pitching his book and is freely allowed to advertise while no one else is.
having been a victim of this for 3 promotional tests, and yes I still have not been promoted because of this. All I can tell you is if you are union then get and or fight for good language in your contract regarding promotions. I you can prove through past history that your chief or board or whoever is being biased towards people then you have the right to argue this. We have chiefs points, which only account for 5% of the entire exam, but it's enough to keep someone from getting a fair score. Most chiefs i know actually take themselves out of the promotional process and in Illinois we actually were successful in getting a state law passed regarding promotions and how they are to be administered.
More like a snake oil salesman
I have a couple of thoughts on this topic. First and foremost, I believe in OUTSIDE evaluators when it comes to promotional exams. It's just too hard to be biased (either good or bad) toward one of your own members. The fairest way is to use outside evaluators to rate your candidates. I am currently writing my departments Captain's test and it will include outside evaluators for each phase of the exam.
Now, after years of coaching candidates I will say that I have worked with many candidates who are convinced the department has it out for them. After sitting down with them, I can clearly see why they didn't score well on the exam. YOU MUST BE PREPARED AND YOU MUST PERFORM. All too often I see candidates using the "good ole boy" excuse for their poor performance.
Make sure you have the education, the department involvement and demonstrate competency in the exam. Most importantly, control what you can control!
Here is an idea. Advocate for Civil Service Merit and fitness via competitive objective examinations. Not interviews, or "assesment" centers or any of the other methods which lend themselves so well to patronage, favortism and manipulation.
Originally Posted by paulLepore
Everything else that I see spoken of around in these forums stinks of the garbage that NYC got rid of gradually begining in the 1880s and took firm hold in the 1920s. That's how you get rid of good ol' boy promotions.
Welcome to the Fire Service.
Originally Posted by fdinspector3
That's a good history lesson you just gave. Civil Service was designed to eliminate the patronage and spoils system that was so prevalent in New York. I am all for making things FAIR. How do you propose doing it without an interview or assessment center?
On the West coast we design assessment centers, tacticals, and interviews to determine the best candidates. We use outside evaluators to keep the process fair. As a matter of fact, I am working on putting on my department's Captain's exam.
I am eager to hear how others do it.
Take out the human subjective opinion from the process.
Originally Posted by paulLepore
Each dept has procedures, methods, policies...etc. Have extensive written exams that have right and wrong answers that test on these FD specific issues that officers need to have a firm grasp of. (no gray areas) Hire in list order...no cherry picking to get your sisters daughters boyfriend a job/promotion..etc.
If I sat in as an assessor I could very well assess that each canidate was worse than the next one based on my professional opinion. What sense does it make to have someone like me with my background, training...etc assess someone from a different department. I would be like having a Sears HR person handling the hiring for Google or Apple. Different organizations have different needs.
If you want to know how successful the NYC method has been.... The politicians absolutely hate it,(if they don't like it, it must be good for us) hence their numerous attempts to manipulate the process. Along with a racist DOJ our local race hustlers are looking at bringing back patronage via lawsuits.
It created the following "paterns" in municipal hiring City Limts- Whitest City Agencies
It has created the supposedly desired outcome of Equal Opportunity not Equal Outcomes. But for some odd reason the politicians don't really want this even and fair playing field. They keep looking for ways to handicap their constituents to the disadvantage of others.
When merit is all that is considered and human subjectivity is removed....every man can look at the men around him and know they achieved their job or promotion the same as everyone else around them. There is no suspicision of croynism or nepotism or even racism. (not the concocted "disparate impact" absurdities either.)
Read up on arguments for race-blind, patronage & nepotism free Civil Service competitive exams here: Merit Matters FDNY
The good ol' boy system will always be there, no matter who gets promoted. Once the current one is up, a new one will appear. It's part of the fire service and just something you have to overcome.
I am not a big fan of promotion through "hard work" for this exact reason. I have seen it many times and nothing but crappy officers are the outcome. I don't think an outside evaluator is necessarily the answer, but if more departments promoted based on time as a preliminary requirement, then testing and score rankings as the decision maker; it would fix a lot of the good ol' boy problems. Seniority based promotions work fantastic as long as the member can pass a test and properly qualify for the position.
Now to really answer your question. There isn't anything you can do until they change the way they promote. With that said, you can't let that take a dump on your moral. I know the feeling well and I know it hurts to not be put somewhere you deserve, when the other clowns who do half the work are there. But I learned a long time ago to stop worrying about it because eventually, the better man will succeed. Losing moral, or losing the internal fire so to speak, will only affect you. And when you stop caring, guess who wins?
Take my advise. Forget the politics, keep you head up high, and enjoy the time you are there. Remember if you stop giving your best, you are the only one that fails. Although a team effort, the fire service is only as good as what each person brings to it. Just be happy you are able to do what you do and one day, when you least expect it, you will be in that position you deserve.
A. Good ol' Boy as it pertains to advancement in rank....It doesn't exist here...period
Originally Posted by MrYuk
B. Promotion by "hard work" or whatever you want to call it has worked quite well for 100 years in our 11,000 man dept. Many great men, excellent officers and no one other than those who desire a return to patronage wants to see it changed.
The fire service at large needs to open their eyes to what is demonstrably a better system.
That is great that it works for your department, but unfortunately as we see here, it's not like that everywhere. Should it be? Absolutely because what is a fire department where we can't even trust out own leaders to make qualified decisions? I am assuming you work for FDNY, where pride and tradition are number 1. But could you believe that there are hundreds of smaller departments out there where peoples personal gain reign superior to the needs of the department? It is truly sad and a cancer in today's fire service.
So can promoting the hard workers actually benefit the department? Yes of course it can. But departments such as FDNY are few and far between these days. The point of my previous post was more to tell fdinspector3 to keep his head up and don't let his department get him down. It is a very real problem in his department and it will be tough to overcome as a single person, or even a as a small group.
I think this is where Paul and I disagree to a point. I like the idea of having outside evaluators the only problem being this.....Candidates who are good test takers and can do great on simulators. Get them out in the field and they get vapor lock and burn down perfectly good buildings because of their lack of confidence in the field. I'm not saying it happens a lot but it does happen and those of us who have worked with these individuals can weed them out during the process and an outsider just puts them at the top of their list.
Originally Posted by JayDudley
This is a big problem in civil service departments in NJ. Good test takers do not always make good line officers. Too often the people who come out on top are very studious but poor firefighters. Additionally, we are not exempt from the good old boy system. We have been known to create extra positions to get to people who are connected. No system is perfect but there are times a I wish we weren't civil service and could promote the best firefighters; however, that means we can promote anyone including political lackeys.
Originally Posted by JayDudley
Obviously there is a great deal of passion on this topic, and rightfully so. We have all seen things that we perceive to be unfair and unjust when it comes to promotions.
I do have to say that I so disagree with those who believe that promotions should be based on seniority (sorry Jay). I have seen way too many times the "old guy" who spends the early part of his career in the busy stations and then spends the next time in sleepy hollow only to reemerge 10 years in time for the Captain's test. This guy doesn't have 20 years of experience. His last 10 years of experience equates to one year of experience 10 times over. All too often the fire service has passed him by.
Seniority DOES NOT equal competency. It certainly can, but absolutely not always.
When I got hired a 27 years ago, 1/2 of a point was added to your score for each year of service. The promotional exams consisted of studying the old tests and waiting your turn for your rightful position. The best thing the department did was to limit the seniority points to a maximum of 10. In the end the test determined who promoted.
I read Fred's recommendation of how to promote. I see the problem with a simple written test is that it doesn't test how someone REALLY PERFORMS UNDER PRESSURE. We all know there is a huge difference between sitting in an air conditioned classroom and writing your answers versus having to demonstrate competency to a group of chief officers on the other side of the table.
Paul.....I never meant for anyone to think I was talking Seniority when taking a test. Your right as just because your Senior does not mean you can do the job. My beef was that outsiders grading a test grade on the performance of a candidate in a controlled situation and simulator. You know as well as I do that there are some who are great test takers and have vapor lock in the field as an Engineer, Captain or Chief Officer. There are also those who just can't take a written exam and would make excellent Engineers, Captains or B.C.'s.
The outside graders have no idea how the candidate is as a current Firefighter, just how they did on the exam and those who work with the candidates know the real Candidate.
Oops Jay, you are right I missed what you said. I confused your comments with another poster (sorry). In regards to outside evaluators I so fully believe in them. It's the most fair way to evaluate a department's candidates. It's fair and objective. Regardless of whether the department really likes one of their candidates, they do not get extra credit for being a "good guy". It's all about how they perform under pressure.
Yes, this does lend itself to the department promoting someone who has been a less than stellar employee. Many departments have the "rule of three" where the FC can pass over someone on the list if he or she is not the right fit.
By using inside evaluators, the department can hand pick the person thay want. As someone who is writing a promotional exam as we speak, it would be great to hand pick the people I want to hand a Captains badge to. We all have our favorites and that is simply not fair to the rest of the group.
The whole reason the Civil Service was developed (as pointed out by FFFRed above) is to make it fair.
If the department's favorite guy vapor locks during the test, maybe he wasn't the right person for the position.
I don't profess to have the right answers and I know we are all passionate about the topic. I am interested to hear how others feel about it and how their department approaches the promotional process.
This is one of those topics that will have firefighters disagreeing for eternity. I really think it all depends on the needs of the department at hand. Like FFFRED said, his system works well for his department, but doesn't work in fdinspector3's. Just like a civil service or seniority based promotion works well in some versus others. The fire service is such a strange profession whether it be career or volunteer in the sense that everyone ultimately strives to achieve the same goal, only the way of getting there varies dramatically.
I am glad we have a civil service testing process in WV.. Yes sometimes good test takers climb the ranks quickly but atleast they have to test well. And not that buddy system...
Those with the ability to test
Written Test score plus seniority points...
promote right down the list
Lots of good information guys. Our department has used outside evaluators for larger assessment centers for the positions Capt. and Lt. We, however, have used inhouse officers for other positions. We have absolutely no test to take for any position (which I think is a problem). Per SOP's, "preference" is to be given to candidates who have the classes they are supposed to have for positions. BUT, what is "preference?" It most certainly did not happen last time I was in an assessment center (a mini-assessment center for a lower position).
Those that have mentioned this being a morale killer are absolutely correct. For our small department, morale is at an unspeakable low, with individuals staying only because of the tough economy and the stability of our positions. Stuff like this doesn't only affect morale during promotions, it affects everyday operations because others, no matter how they may do something, it is never enough. The chosen ones can sit back and relax and be praised for doing so.
We don't have promotions very often, so I have had a lot of time to think about this. I have thought about a combination of what would help promote those that is as fair as possible, though I know there are always flaws. First of all, I think some sort of testing should be involved. Essentially now, as long as you have the minimum years for a position, you can apply for it regardless of anything else (or short comings). My first thing would be a test, related to the position, to test into an assessment center. In my opinion, if you have a test to prepare for, you are constantly (or should be) studying and learning. This keeps you more current on things that can make you a better, safer firefighter. Whether that score would factor in the actual promotion...I can see both sides of it. I do believe it should count for something...maybe 20 point (out of 100).
I like the giving some points for seniority/years of service. But only years above what are required for the position and I would impose a cap of 10. For the next 10 points, I would offer points for education (I know there are many who would disagree, but I think an associates degree, 5 points, or a bachelors degree, 10 points, deserve recognition). Thats 40!
The next possibly 20 would come from training (and not basic training). This would be job specific and would likely cover training that is beyond mininum requirements. That would get you to a possible 60 total points leaving 40 for assessment centers (from outside evaluators), with the points being split up accordingly. I would possibly reserve some points for chief's discretion, not sure.
To me, this seems like a somewhat fair way do promote, and considerably much more fair than what is done at my department now, which includes an assessment center only, with only the outcomes being known. No one is told any score at all, even the winner. Is it customary for other departments not to tell candidates scores or even how well or poorly they did??? This allows for training, experience, and knowledge of the job to play a role in the promotion process. While it wouldn't prevent a chosen one to be promoted, it would help to lessen the chance of them jumping someone who has more experience, training, and education than they do. It puts the ball in each candidates court where 60 points related to things they have direct control of.
What do you guys and gals think? Anyone do something similar to this? I know this is a fictional representation, but I think its something that would get us in the right direction.
I'm not sure I understand what you are suggesting here.
A. By the time one is taking an exam for officer that said firefighter one would think has been to is share of jobs and can handle stress as well as making decisions. Im not understanding how one can test for a company officers role yet not have at least some basic experience of being able to make decisions in fireground situations. If this is the case, the respective fire dept doing this isn't taking advantage of their firemen's skills and abilities and is preparing them poorly for advancement by not delegating some decisions.
B. If one has a firm grasp on policy and what procedures are to be taken under whatever circumstances can be imagined there is little that person must do at a fire other than apply what they know at jobs which is little different than what they are doing now as a fireman. The officer only serves to guide when the tactics to be employed aren't clear and supervise to make sure the firemen didn't miss anything in the procedures that they already known by heart themselves.
While I'm sure there are a few idiots who slip thru so is such the case for interviewing with a bunch of chiefs or whomever from wherever that may or may not have a clue themselves. The people they choose in my experience are just as prone to being sub-par and even much more so as many are picked because of personal bias on the part of the evaluators and not on competency.
At least with Objective Civil Service one can know that the person didn't get the job from favortism. Which is obviously present in the systems which some of you gravitate towards.