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Thread: Good ol' Boy System???

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    Default 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.

    Thanks!


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    Quote Originally Posted by fdinspector3 View Post
    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.

    Thanks!
    I would start with only promoting women. Problem solved.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    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.
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    Car salesman type? What's that exactly?

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    The guy who comes into every thread pitching his book and is freely allowed to advertise while no one else is.
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    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.

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    More like a snake oil salesman
    ?

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    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!
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulLepore View Post
    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.

    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.

    FTM-PTB

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    Quote Originally Posted by fdinspector3 View Post
    Is there a way, or are they any good suggestions, as to how to beat out the good ol' boy system with promotions.
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    Fred,
    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.
    Paul Lepore
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulLepore View Post
    Fred,
    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.

    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

    FTM-PTB
    Last edited by FFFRED; 12-30-2011 at 01:21 AM.
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    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrYuk View Post
    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.
    A. Good ol' Boy as it pertains to advancement in rank....It doesn't exist here...period
    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.

    FTM-PTB

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    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.
    "Training doesn't make you a good fireman, fighting fire makes you a good fireman"
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    Default Outside Evaluators

    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayDudley View Post
    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.
    Well said.
    "Training doesn't make you a good fireman, fighting fire makes you a good fireman"
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayDudley View Post
    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.
    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.

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    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.
    Last edited by paulLepore; 12-30-2011 at 11:31 PM.
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    Default Seniority

    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.
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