1. #1
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    Question Company Cohesiveness

    I am looking for some input and hopefully some solid statistics or where I can find some statistic to prove my case.

    Currently my department does not allow companies to work together long enough to establish any cohesiveness. The company officers move stations every six months, engineers move stations every three months, and fire fighters move whenever.

    I am currently trying to justify longer crew assignments, and station assignements. I have found a lot of literature on crew assignments and group dynamics. All of the literature I have found supports keeping crews together for the obvious reasons. However, I have not been able to find any statistics or timeframes of how long it takes to develope crew cohesiveness within a group.

    Any input, even nothing more than opinions will greatly be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    1FNLTG, I understand your frustration. It only makes sense to allow personnel to mingle and find their niche. Once that is found (which can take time)its not right to break it up just "Because we want to or can". If there is a serious need such as experience or odd numbers per shift I can understand and its perfectly reasonable. Based on your comments and my personnal experience I've come to the conclusion this is used to keep the troops fragmented and individualized on purpose in order to micro manage(control)and to prevent or limit organized (Union) activites within a department. Nothing more complicated than that.

  3. #3
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    1FNGLT, I can understand and relate to where you are coming from. I don't think you will find anything published that gives a specific time frame that is required to build a cohesive unit because you just can't assign numbers to something of that nature. If you work in a busy place that runs a lot of fires, then the time to build a cohesive unit doesn't take long- with each incident everyone learns a little something about each crew members strength's and weaknesses and how to function as a team around that. A lot of a crew's cohesiveness also lies with the individual- is the individual willing to be a team play or more of a solo player, is everyone's enthusiam level of the job the same or do you have someone for who the job is just a way of paying rent? Yes, a lot of times the powers that be will split up crews that are rock solid working together and are good enough to turn goat **** into gasoline and they can use all kinds of excuses as to why they busted a unit up-some reasons are valid, some are just self serving. No, the cohesiveness is a great thing among team building.

  4. #4
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    There can be a sort of rusting that occurs when units get too set in their ways or personnel do not achieve a good overall picture of their own organisation. Managers who are no doubt aware of this and determined that everyone will get a thoroughly rounded experience and have the chance to share ideas and techniques can take these principles to excess.

    One extreme is as bad as another and extremism doesn't work well with the diversity of human nature. Teamwork is what we are talking about and what successful sports team has a compulsary shuffling of playing positions regardless of ability.

    Here is a useful quote for you that is as true today as it was when it was written the best part of two thousand years ago...

    "We trained hard - but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation"

    Gaius Petronius AD 66

    In looking for documentary evidence of the destabilising effect of forced change you may do worse than see if the Us Military did some analysis on the effect of the One year rotation of personnel in the Vietnam war? I know there are a number of veterans on the boards who may be prepared to comment of the effect of this policy.

    good luck

    Jim Maclean
    Auckland New Zealand

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    I am reading a book by Tom Clancy with General Fred Franks. It is about Desert Storm, but also about Frank's career and his tour in Vietnam. The book goes into a lot of detail about what makes a soldier (and you can insert firefighter here, because a lot of it applies). It also talks about the Army's command rotation policy (every 6 months) and what happens when it doesn't work. The book is called Into The Storm and so far its been worth the read. Maybe you'll be able to pick up a few things that'll help.

  6. #6
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    Random Thoughts:

    I suspect BF443's barking up the right tree with his thoughts.

    How do you get familiar with a district when you're only an officer in it for six months, and driving in it for three? For that matter, how do you build up "institutional memory" of the district to pass on to new guys when everyone's a new guy?

    You don't want the opposite either, with companies getting complacent and never changing either, or some stations staying behind while others try to advance.

    The other random thought is the FDNY schedule is very unusual in the U.S. fire service. I'd say most career departments run 3 or 4 platoons, and the same Captain & FFs work the same shift together all the time with some adjustment for vacation, etc. I'm sure I'll be corrected if I get this wrong, but FDNY works 40 hour weeks on a 25 platoon system. The net effect is each company has the same Captain and Lieutenants and Firefighters, but who works with whom changes each shift. What's always intrigued me about it is it gets around the "A shift does this, B shift does it that way, etc" -- knowledge get dissemenated among the entire company. When officers & FFs change, I'd imagine that makes for a lot of institutional memory by the rest of the company that's passed on to the new guys.

    Matt

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