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The largest threat to fire departments

DISCRIMINATORY HARASSMENT TOPS LIST OF

LEXIPOL’S 2018 FIREFIGHTER TRAINING TOPICS 

Issues of sexual harassment, bullying and retaliation have received increasing attention in the fire service in recent years. So it’s no surprise that discriminatory harassment was the top training topic represented in Lexipol’s Daily Training Bulletin (DTB) program for fire departments in 2018. 

Departments using the DTB program had access to 120 unique firefighter training bulletins last year, providing nearly 4 hours of training. Lexipol strives to keep the training program closely associated with issues making headlines in the fire service. 

An end-of-year summary from Lexipol organizes the training topics into 11 main categories and more than 100 subtopics. General Operations accounted for 26% of the DTBs, featuring subtopics such as fireground accountability, emergency driving and hazmat response. Personnel topics accounted for 21% of the DTBs issued. In addition to discriminatory harassment, this category includes subtopics such as modified duty assignments, promotions and transfers, and outside employment. Safety (9%) and Training (8%) were the third- and fourth-highest categories, respectively. 

Top level training chart with General Operations as the largest piece of the pie.
2nd is Personnel

DTBs use a proven system of realistic and verifiable training to expose firefighters to their department’s policies and help them apply policy to real-world situations. The bulletins are authored by Lexipol’s Training Team and use scenarios to bring policy to life and enhance firefighter understanding of their policies. 

“Our Training Team members are current and former fire department instructors, so we benefit from a wealth of practical knowledge relating to critical topics such as firefighter safety, technical rescue, and conduct and behavior,” says Don Weaver, Training Director for Lexipol. “We design our training bulletins to focus on a specific aspect of the department’s policy and present them in the form of scenarios because we know this helps enhance learning retention— the firefighters are being asked to consider how their policy works in the real world.” The DTB program also takes into consideration current events and emerging trends. 

To access the complete listing of 2018 topics, click here. 

Sign up to receive email updates from Lexipol, strategic partner of the Southwestern Division IAFC members.

Bullying- still a real threat

The fire service is often described as a “brotherhood”—the implication being that firefighters watch out for and support each other. In many fire departments, the brotherhood is alive and well. But in too many firehouses across the country, the reality is more complex. In a recent webinar, 84% of respondents indicated they had observed or been the victim of bullying in the fire service. And a quick check of headlines reveals no shortage of news stories about firefighters being sexually harassed, hazed and retaliated against.

Bullying is found in many workplaces, but the impact can be greater on firefighters because the station is like a second home, where firefighters cook, clean and even sleep side by side. Fortunately, fire service leaders have begun to understand the negative impact of bullying and harassment and many are taking steps to reduce such behavior. Following are 10 strategies identified in the webinar, which was presented by Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder, Chief I. David Daniels, Chief Colleen Walz and Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

1. Identify the behavior

Although bullying is often used in a general sense to describe all types of harassing behavior, there are important differences in the terms we use—differences that can have a legal impact.

  • Hazing is abusive or humiliating tricks and ridicule directed at new members of the department
  • Bullying is repeated mistreatment; threats, humiliation or intimidation; work sabotage
  • Harassment is verbal or physical conduct that creates an unpleasant or hostile situation (usually toward a protected class)
  • Workplace violence is verbal, physical or sexual assault

When assessing a specific situation or educating personnel about inappropriate behaviors in the firehouse, it’s important to distinguish between these terms.

2. Acknowledge the leader’s role

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 61% of bullies are bosses. Sometimes, this is the result of an overt use of power. But there are less insidious reasons as well. Chief Daniels notes that many leaders in the fire service were bullied themselves when they were moving up through the ranks. They may believe that such behavior is the way to get results. That’s why it’s important for fire service leaders to assess the cultural influences that shaped their leadership philosophy and the tone they’re setting in their departments. Equally important is providing early education to company officers on what bullying and harassment are and how to stop them.

3. Prevent retaliation

Although the ultimate goal is to stop bullying in the first place, equally important is a fire department’s response when such behavior is seen or alleged. Chief Walz notes it’s essential to have policies and procedures in place to ensure firefighters who come forward with information or accusations are not retaliated against. This includes instructing others with knowledge of the situation what constitutes retaliation—an unwelcome shift or station change, the denial of a promotion, shunning the accuser or encouraging others to do so, giving the firefighter an undeserved poor performance review. Many instances of bullying and harassment can be dealt with effectively, but if they progress to retaliation, the consequences for everyone involved become much more severe.

4. Confront the behavior

Too often when firefighters observe bullying behavior or even when they’re victims of it, they don’t confront the bully. It takes personal courage and individual responsibility to call someone out for bad behavior—it’s often easier to “go along to get along”—but it’s critical to creating lasting change in the fire service. It’s also key to correcting behavior before problems become so big they cause career or legal repercussions. A company officer who puts a swift end to teasing that’s going too far is less likely to have a true bully on their crew. Note: How you confront behavior will depend on the severity of the situation. A firefighter who feels physically threatened or psychologically abused will need to go through formal channels to confront their accuser.

5. Train and educate company officers

Company officers are the first line of defense in stopping bullying and harassment in the fire service. They spend a lot of time with personnel and observe the interactions between firefighters. Fire departments need to ensure company officers are trained to recognize bullying, empowered to step in, and have access to a process for reporting inappropriate behavior. Regular training on bullying, harassment and inclusivity should be provided to company officers and leaders should engage them in conversations about crew dynamics.

Bullying is carried out against those identified as “other”—it may be the way they look, the interests they have, their gender or ethnicity, or any characteristic that doesn’t fit with the group dynamic.

6. Involve the safety officer

Your department likely has one or more safety officers designated to watch out for the wellbeing of firefighters. Typically, this means responsibilities such as checking for unsafe acts, ensuring proper PPE is being used, advocating for annual physicals and the like. But Chief Daniels points out there’s no reason the safety officer shouldn’t be involved with anti-bullying efforts. After all, being treated badly at the station can compound other types of trauma, elevating a firefighter’s risk for PTSD, depression and suicide. Safety officers should be trained to notice and intervene.

7. Establish proper policies

Chief Goldfeder notes that clearly written policies also play a key role in reducing bullying and harassment in the fire service. Your policies need to make clear that discriminatory behavior, harassment, bullying and hazing are unacceptable. Some departments write individual policies for each of these areas; others cover them in a “code of conduct” policy. However you do it, make sure the policy language is unambiguous and track policy acknowledgement by your firefighters. Think beyond the obvious, too. If you have women in your department, eventually some of them may become pregnant. Do you provide for a light-duty option when they can no longer respond to fires? What’s the process for returning to duty, and do your company officers know about the federal requirement to provide time and space for nursing mothers to express breast milk?

8. Expand recruitment

Bullying is carried out against those identified as “other”—it may be the way they look, the interests they have, their gender or ethnicity, or any characteristic that doesn’t fit with the group dynamic. For this reason, one of the more powerful long-term strategies to combat bullying is to make your fire department more diverse. As the group embraces diversity, the notion of “otherness” fades. Fire departments can do this by recruiting in different places than they have traditionally. They should equip all firefighters with recruitment material and instruct them to be on the lookout for potential recruits when on call. And fire departments should reexamine their recruitment messages, too, to ensure the messages will connect with qualified applicants who bring different experiences and backgrounds to the job. Finally, it’s important to look at the non-minority candidates you’re recruiting. It’s not just about flooding your ranks with women and people of color; it’s about ensuring everyone you’re hiring supports the mission of building an inclusive fire department.

9. Establish promotional guidelines

Just as diversity in the rank-and-file can reduce bullying, diversity in leadership can be a powerful antidote. Too often, however, people who are “different” feel shut out of the promotional process. Fire departments can address this by establishing transparent, impartial promotional guidelines and publicizing them widely. Chief Hayes-White notes that because the fire service has so long been dominated by white men, you may need to take an extra step and encourage QUALIFIED women and people of color to consider testing for promotion. Note this is not favoritism or a promise they’ll get the job. It’s asking whether they might be interested, encouraging them to think about it.

10. Preserve worthy traditions

One criticism that often comes up when we talk about a more inclusive fire department is that exclusivity comes at the expense of fire department traditions. Those who came up in the department from a young age may resent changes. “I paid my dues as a rookie, now you’re saying I have to treat the new guy with kid gloves.” Fire department leaders need to be prepared for this type of pushback. Involve union and volunteer leadership in policy changes and talk openly about what’s changing and what’s not changing. Some past practices are downright harmful and don’t have a place in a progressive, modern department. The challenge for leaders is to respect tradition while being unafraid to push the department forward.

IAFC- Division kicks off the largest class yet in Lafayette

Bienvenue en Louisiane

WHAT: 3rd Annual IAFC-SW Division Leadership Academy Symposium

WHERE:  Louis F. Babin Institute of Fire Training, 300 N. Dugas Road, Lafayette, LA

WHEN:     Tuesday, March 12, thru Thursday, March 14, 2019 at 8:30 a.m.

DETAILS: Lafayette Fire Department will host the International Association of Fire Chief, Southwest Division, Leadership and Coaching Academy this week at our training facility. 1 Smart Career consulting firm partnered with IAFC to bring this cutting edge leadership academy designed for members of the fire service. Twenty-two fire chiefs and officers from the southwest division of IAFC will be in attendance including members from Lafayette Fire. The academy will begin with a 3 day symposium on topics of leadership, coaching, and mentoring. It will be followed by 4 months of online courses. 

Fire Chief Robert Benoit is a member of the IAFC. He is also the 1st Vice President of the IAFC’s Southwestern Division. IAFC is a prominent organization in the fire service providing leadership to fire departments throughout the United States and Canada. Chief Benoit welcomed the opportunity to have Lafayette serve as a host site. After reviewing the course programming, he was encouraged with the depth of training and believed the outcome to be very beneficial to his members and the fire service in general.

Fire officers from 5 states; Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Minnesota spent 3 days in Lafayette March 12, 13 & 14 for our 3rd annual Hi-Performance Leadership Academy Symposium. Each year since 2016 the Southwestern Division has partnered 1 Smart Career’s Kelly Walsh and Dan Jones to host a 6 month combined real and virtual classroom to deliver exemplary leadership skills to the officers.

There will be a graduation ceremony held for the officers who complete the course. The ceremony is held in conjunction with the Executive Leadership Academy in October.

“Laissez les bon temps rouler.”

At the conclusion of the academy, there was a special treat for the students and instructors. The officers from Plaquesmines Parish Fire Department worked with the host to show everyone what real cajun food is all about

FIREFIGHTER DEVIATION FROM POLICY

ADDRESSING FIREFIGHTER DEVIATION  FROM POLICY

By Scott Eskwitt

Why do firefighters deviate from policy? And when it happens, what is the right way to address the deviation? Before we delve into these questions, let’s look at two recent firefighter deviations from policy that made headlines. 

In Dallas, firefighters deviated from a newly instituted policy when they entered a home during a shooting incident. The firefighters knew two people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were inside the home. They knowingly deviated from the policy requiring them to wait for police before entering a violent scene. Although the mother died, the baby was later delivered via C-section at the hospital.

In Phoenix, a fire marshal was demoted for violating the department ethics policy after he accepted a $100,000 check, while on duty, from a philanthropist whose business had failed its fire inspection 11 months earlier. The check was a donation to a non-profit organization in which the fire marshal and his family were involved. The City of Phoenix Human Resources Department imposed the discipline even as it concluded there was no indication the philanthropist’s business received any special treatment when it came to a fire code waiver.  

Initial Actions

Deviation from policy is rarely a simple matter for supervisors and administrators. When a member deviates from policy or procedure, don’t accept it as a one-off event or write it off as OK because the outcome was positive. Deviation from policy requires an investigation exploring the following questions: 

  • Is the policy/procedure written so it is usable and achieves its stated purpose?
  • Has the member been trained on the policy?
  • Did the policy deviation occur during a time-critical event where the member used recognition-primed decision-making (RPDM)?
  • Did the policy deviation occur during a non-time-critical event where a more classic decision-making process was or should have been used?

Two caveats as you begin the investigation: First, until the reason for deviation from policy or procedure is determined, it should not be categorized differently. Using any other term, such as ignored, disregarded or failed to observe, implies the member did something wrong when, in fact, that determination will be the result of the investigation. By contrast, deviation implies no fault; it’s simply a fact.

Second, don’t overcomplicate your conclusion. Generally, the investigation should have one of four outcomes:  

  1. Determination the deviation was the result of poorly written policy or procedure
  2. Determination the deviation was the result of lack of training on the policy or procedure
  3. Determination the deviation was proper under the conditions and was made for an articulable reason, based upon the experience and knowledge of the member
  4. Determination the deviation was improper because it occurred without an articulable reason

With those guidelines in mind, let’s look at each question in detail. 

Did the policy/procedure properly account for the situation? 

A poorly written policy or procedure is one that does not adequately address law, best practice, current equipment and technology. Importantly, the policy must also reflect the reality of how the organization operates. If your investigation finds the policy or procedure is inadequate, then it needs to be updated before a member can be found to have ignored or disregarded it. It can be as simple as your fire investigation policy failing to require the use of a thermal imaging camera (TIC). If a member fails to use a TIC and the incident commander clears a scene where a fire later erupts, the failure of the policy is glaring.

Was the member trained on the policy/procedure? 

Put simply: How can a member be found to have disregarded or ignored a policy on which they were never trained? Initial and continuous training using policy and procedure is a key part of implementation and use. Consistent training reinforces a policy or procedure and makes it a part of the member’s decision-making process, whether that decision is made during RPDM or classical decision-making. 

We all know the phrase “go to your training.” Well, a member can’t go to their training if they never had it. Training is a department responsibility and if a member deviated from policy because they were not adequately trained on it, the blame lies with the department.

Did the policy deviation occur during a time-critical event?

If the policy or procedure is found to be valid and the member was trained on it, we can move on to examine the member’s reason for deviating.

When it comes to time-critical incidents, firefighters usually employ RPDM. A member will quickly, within seconds:

  1. Evaluate a situation
  2. Consider a solution based on training and previous experience
  3. Run a quick validation and either accept or discard the solution, repeating this process until an acceptable solution is determined and then implemented

Any hope of following policy or procedure in RPDM requires continual training on policy and procedure so that when a member in a time-critical situation goes to their training and experience, the policy and procedure is included in that process.

A common example of a time-critical policy deviation is failure to perform a 360-degree assessment, per scene-arrival procedures, when confronted with visible smoke and fire upon arrival. Instead, the crew immediately commences operations based on what the company officer sees in front of him or her, leading to a failure to fully size-up the scene and assess location of victims or fire on the B, C or D sides.

Did the policy deviation occur during a non-time-critical event?

Non-time-critical deviations are easier to assess. Here, a member engages in a more classic decision-making process of identification, analysis, evaluation and implementation. Often this process will include asking for advice from other members before making the decision. 

In non-time-critical events, it should be second nature that the policy/procedure is followed (remember, we’re assuming the policy is well written and valid and the member has been trained on it). Firefighter deviation from policy in non-time-critical events is likely due to a conscious decision to disregard the policy. Such decisions are usually attributable to lack of emphasis on policy or procedure from leadership, misplaced priorities or the member simply believing they know better. The member may rationalize his or her decision, especially when there is a lack of consequences, but there is rarely a valid reason for disregarding policy or procedure in non-time-critical scenarios.

Consider the following example of a non-time-critical deviation from the operational readiness policy/procedure: Apparatus operators are required to inspect the personnel accountability materials on the apparatus at the start of their shift. An operator conducts the inspection and finds several tags are missing. Following procedure, the operator reports this to her company officer. 

The procedure further requires the company officer to make repair or replacement of missing equipment a priority at start of shift. The company officer receives the information but decides to deal with the missing personal accountability materials after reviewing and finishing incident reports for NFIRS. In the meantime, a structure fire with rescue assignment is received and the company responds. Two members find themselves having to make entry without tagging in. 

We don’t need to go further with the example. The company officer clearly made a conscious decision to disregard policy and a chain of events follows. Assuming the company officer was trained on the procedure, his priorities were misplaced.

Digging Deeper

The Dallas and Phoenix examples we started with further illustrate that deviation from policy is rarely black and white. We’ll assume the members were trained on the applicable policies. The Dallas example is a time-critical situation involving firefighters confronted with the knowledge that there were gunshot victims in a house with the shooter in the vicinity and police not on scene. Perhaps the policy needs to be restated to adequately protect the department and its members while accounting for the realities of such incidents. If it is determined the policy is appropriate, should training evolutions include scenarios where members must wait to reach known victims and mandatory post-incident stress debriefing?

The Phoenix example, where the fire marshal accepted a substantial donation while on duty for a charity in which he was involved and as a result was demoted, is non-time-critical. It required a detailed investigation to determine the circumstances. Here, the city of Phoenix deemed it appropriate to demote the fire marshal, while also finding that the business owner didn’t receive favorable treatment. 

The bottom line: Each firefighter deviation from policy should be the subject of a thorough investigation that starts with questioning the validity and applicability of the policy or procedure itself. Next, determine whether the member was initially and consistently trained on the policy. Then review the conditions under which the deviation took place. Only then can you properly determine whether the policy needs to be updated, additional training is required, or the member’s actions were proper or improper.

Scott Eskwitt Operation Manager

SCOTT ESKWITT is Operations Manager Fire Development for Lexipol and an active member of the Fair Haven (NJ) Fire

Department, serving as Chief from 2012 to 2015. He is also a member of the Fair Haven First Aid Squad and the Red Bank (NJ) Fire Department. Scott is also an attorney and has spent his legal career advising municipalities and fire departments on risk management, human resources and labor relations issues. His undergraduate degree in Industrial & Labor Relations was received from Cornell University and his law degree from SUNY Law at Buffalo.

1 Smart Career delivers more than training

Juggling Personal Relationships and Professional Ambitions

Listen to the PODCAST here

Duration13:54

Listen to host Eric Dye & guest Kelly Walsh discuss the following:

  • Remind our listeners what is 1 Smart Life?
  • One of your areas of expertise is work-life balance. Can you give our listeners some tips on how to juggle personal relationships and professional ambitions?
  • Talk to us about the teeter-totter conundrum. How does that concept apply to every day life?
  • Who should hire a life coach?
  • What is the difference between a life coach and a therapist?
  • With the extra stress of the holidays, does it make work-life balance even harder? How do you manage extra stress and unique situations?
Video is the exclusive property of 1 Smart Career

Kelly Walsh is one of our coaches for the annual Leadership Academy. This year we are hosting it in Lafayette, LA. For information on registration click here http://www.1smartcareer.com/2019-swfca-leadership-academy/

Performance Management pain or power?

By: Bob Norton, performance management specialist & consultant

Is performance management a pain for your organization or is it a power behind your organization?

When I first started working with fire departments, cities, utility districts and municipalities years ago I noticed common problems that each organization faced. These problems were sometimes intense and severe; other times they were just daily irritants. No matter the size or scope of these common problems, they created for each organization a reminder as to the need to get “serious” about performance management.

What is performance management? It is a combination of individual, team and organization goals moving in the same direction. It ensures that the employees and leaders are empowered to perform at their optimum level. It enhances communication and consistency within the whole organization.

Do any of the following common problems reflect your organization?

  • Consistency between shifts, stations, and leaders
  • Communication from Leadership does not get all the way to the first level employees
  • Employees taking things personally
  • No common goals on an ongoing basis
  • No clear expectations for each position
  • No accountability for lazy leaders
  • No consequences for high performers or low performers
  • Lack of follow-up and follow-through
  • Ineffective Performance Reports/Reviews

If you can relate to any of the above common problems then performance management is essential to your organization.

What I found in each organization was a lack of clear understanding as to what leadership and performance management was all about. Many times individuals were placed in leadership because of tenure or expertise in a certain area, but they lacked proper leadership skills and focus. They tended to be more subjective in their leadership and not objective. They based their leadership on how they felt or what they thought about an employee and they missed the target of what they truly get paid for as a leader.

Every leader gets paid for results. They get the results through the only unlimited resource they have – the people that are a part of their teams. The truth about leadership is that every leader must get the most of each of their employees, and help those employees be the best they can be in their specific positions.

Leadership of these organizations also misunderstood the best motivator for employees in the workforce. They thought money was the best motivator but they found out once they paid the employee a certain amount within a short time the employee wanted more. I ask leaders every week, “What is the number one motivator?” I will get all kinds of responses but the number one motivator for employees is achievement. If we achieve something we are motivated, if we spin our wheels and get nothing done we are dragging by the end of the day. The number two motivator is recognition. Therefore, if a leader is recognizing achievement on an ongoing basis then employees will stay motivated.

Another problem that was very common was a lack of an agreement of expectations. Everyone in the organization had an idea as to what a specific position was to do but they did not have a clear agreement as to expectations. Therefore, performance was up and down continually. If an employee was motivated internally then the performance would be more up then down. However, most employees lacked the internal motivation and the performance was only up when a leader was micromanaging an employee, which created additional problems.

The fact is that most employees want to do a great job. Tension and conflict in the workplace occurs when the leader’s expectation differs from the employees’ expectation.

For example, an employee was trying to do a good job (their expectation) and was upset when they found out that leader wasn’t pleased with the outcome (differing expectation). Whose fault is that? Answer: the organizational leadership.

If the organization requires that everyone agrees on the expectation of each position, the tasks required in that position and how those tasks should be accomplished then there is little reason for conflict. Additionally, as the organization scales, or experiences turnover, the organization need not start from scratch again and again because the organization is not held together by individuals, it is held together by its own structure. Finally, most of the organizations conducted performance reviews once a year because they “had to”, and they were a PAIN! Leaders could not remember what happened 11 months ago, or 6 months ago; therefore, they usually responded to “how they felt” about an employee over the 4-5 weeks before the performance review was due. Also, the organizations would use the same performance review for every position within the organization and therefore specific areas important to specific positions would be missed in the review. Leaders would tell me how they dreaded the reviews and detested having to fill them out. The insecure leaders not wanting to offend an employee would give the employee good scores, but then complain the rest of the year about the employee. The major problem with these performance reviews was the subjectivity of them. They were based on the leader’s feelings and thoughts and not the employee’s actual performance.

Performance management systems and the associated annual performance reports have long been deemed a necessary but cumbersome process. The performance reports often have unnecessary complexity, the time they take and the frequently onerous format and content result in low or ineffective utilization. Most annual performance reports end up formally documenting specific issues from the recent past and vague comments mixed with editorials about the preceding fifty weeks. This questionable content is biased heavily by the mood of the leader and their relationship to the employee at the time of review. The annual performance report often ends up being inaccurate, soft or unnecessarily punitive, rather than an effective motivator. This usually leads to conflict, not improved performance.

What’s the Answer?

Tenzinga Performance Management system is the answer! It is an online active performance management system. It is a system that can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection. Each problem mentioned above is addressed through the use and implementation of Tenzinga.

TENZINGA Performance Power™ is the solution to the performance management problem. TENZINGA has developed a revolutionary performance management system that is based on decades of research and carefully addresses the failures of all traditional performance management systems. TENZINGA Performance Power™ offers leaders a simple roadmap to successfully manage both exceptional and underperforming employees. TENZINGA enables leaders and executives alike, to evaluate and recognize achievement of employees on a constant basis in a matter of seconds, turning recognition into results. With TENZINGA’s Follow-up & Follow-thru process, leaders will ensure that problem areas are identified, addressed and corrected.

Employees are invigorated on a consistent basis and challenged to perform at an elevated level throughout the year. Employees on TENZINGA Performance Power™ have clearly defined expectations for their position and know exactly what it will take to meet and exceed those expectations. They have the knowledge, ability and desire to work with leadership to create plans for their future, and then target their efforts to attain it.

Clients of Tenzinga have stated that Tenzinga Performance Management has effected morale in a very positive way:

“TENZINGA Performance Management has contributed greatly to our organization’s morale”

“The TENZINGA Performance Management system has improved our staff morale”

“We have found that the TENZINGA Performance management system has assisted with key employee retention”

“Tenzinga creates an environment for success”

“Tenzinga is a Bachelor’s Degree in a box!”

How Does It Work?

Each position within the organization has tasks, standards and measurements developed and implemented within the Tenzinga Performance Management system. Each leader enters a minimum of once a month a performance log for the employee. This performance log is objective and is focused on what the employee has done and not how the leader “feels” or “think” about the employee’s performance.

The employee always knows up to the minute how they are performing in their specific position. They are alerted as to a performance log has been submitted for them.

Clients respond with comments regarding the ongoing performance logs:

“With the TENZINGA Performance Management system our employees are always up to date with their performance ratings”

“Everyone has been very prompt in completing performance logs every month and the regular feedback is helpful”

“I really believe the system forces (in a good way) managers to be more cognizant of how they communicate and the importance of writing dialog.”

“I personally love the fact that we can document actions immediately so that we can guide staff in the best direction as time passes instead of in arrears.

“I like the system and I think it helps supervisors evaluate subordinates in a timely matter instead of semi-annually.”

Since the employee has received objective feedback from their leader throughout the year, the Annual Performance Reports take only minutes to complete at the end of the year. Performance Reports are saved to each employee’s dashboard for easy access by the employee or the leader.

Users of Tenzinga have endorsed the Performance Reports with the following comments:

“The TENZINGA Performance Management system has greatly reduced the time it takes to produce a professional performance report.”

 “The TENZINGA Performance Management system produces a performance report that is fair to all employees, and cuts out the subjective opinions.”

“The TENZINGA Performance Management system has cut our supervisors’ performance report completion times in half”

Tenzinga is known as a “wind-shield” and not a “rear-view mirror” system; meaning, the time that a leader spends with an employee at the end of the year is looking ahead and not behind. The focus is on the Development Plan that is a part of the Tenzinga system. It allows the leader and employee to build an “action plan” for the year on how the employee will improve in the core competencies/values of the organization. It also has a succession planning module in it.

There are also Leadership Forms that assist the Leader in Coaching, Mentoring and Counseling.

Tenzinga Performance Management system builds an Org Chart for your organization that enables employees and leaders to view the organization and employees as a whole team.

The structure of Tenzinga allows the General Manager to see down through the organization. It produces a transparency that exposes lazy leaders and ensures communication is active and effective.

Clients have enjoyed the Org Chart feature by stating:

“I have enjoyed using the org. chart in the TENZINGA system to determine who to call for things.  It was an added unexpected bonus.”

“Tenzinga has allowed me as a manager to see that my leaders are doing their job as a leader, and are engaging with their employees continually.”

Conclusion

Performance management does not have to be a pain, but it can be the power behind great success. Leaders and organizations that want to become more than just a mediocre functioning entity realize the importance and vital significance of having an effective ongoing performance management system. The challenge is being open to a culture and organizational change that causes every position within the organization to strive for excellence on a daily basis.

If your organization desires to move to a higher level of performance and achieve greater results then please give us a call at 615.647.8230 or email us at info@tenzinga.com for more information.

Leadership Academy update

Announcing the
“IAFC-SW Division High Performance Coaching & Leadership Academy”
What it isThe IAFC-SW Division, and 1SmartCareer proudly partner to bring “Cutting Edge”leadership training to the fire service. Our promise to you is that this academy will be considerably different than you ever have attended before and way more powerful.
 
Join us to learn the key skills and practices necessary to successfully lead people and manage resources in today’s fire and emergency services.

What sets this training apart from other leadership training courses is that, upon completion of the symposium, 2 coaching and 2 mentoring sessions will be scheduled by phone for each participant.
 
Who Should Attend: Current Officers, Company Officers, Future Chief Officers, Mid-level Chiefs, anyone in FD Leadership Positions or aspiring to same.
Academy Topics IncludeYou are the leader; roles, responsibilities and behaviorsCommunicating and Connecting effectivelyMoving Forward and dealing with obstaclesLeading into the Future and developing other leaders
When and Where
This symposium is being held March 12 – 14, 2019 in Lafayette, Louisiana at the Lafayette Fire Training Center; event time 8:30am – 5:30pm.
 
Cost
Pricing at $849 per attendee. Includes a 3-day  in person symposium plus 4 online classes, and 2 coaching and 2 mentoring sessions over the following four months, April – July, 2019. Class size is limited to 44 attendees.
 
Learn More and to Register for the Academy Here
For specific questions or additional information contact: Steven Matzat

Managing within the context of a fire organization

Human Relations: Managing within the context of a fire organization

• September 2018 • Chief Robert Benoit – 2nd Vice President, IAFC-SW Division – Fire Chief Lafayette Fire Department

The basic principles for managing one’s personal and family life, a private corporation (small or large) and both for-profit and nonprofit businesses are similar to those needed to manage a fire department. These management processes provide an orderly structure to achieving goals and objectives through delegated authority under competent leadership.
Within the context of a fire organization, effective management is a learned behavior that demands continuous training, requires team spirit and provides a strong disciplinary influence.
The NFPA Fire Protection Handbook, Section 10, Chapter 1, states

  Almost all fire departments were administered by clearly defined organizational structures long before system techniques were applied to industry and business. A system of task allocation to engine and ladder crews was developed whereby each person on the apparatus performed certain functions in sequence so the team operated as a coordinated unit, without duplication of effort.

Most fire departments are structured around this traditional model, and with it, leaders have a firm foundation to build on; continuous training, team spirit and influence are some of their construction tools.

Continuous Training

On June 15, my department held its 101st recruit academy graduation, with 17 graduates who started their training in January. The academies are six months long, with the objective of making sure each recruit has the foundation needed to perform in an effective manner during the working test period, which totals 18 months of probationary status. At the end of the working test period, they’re confirmed as permanent firefighters.

This is where the real training begins, and it will continue throughout their careers.

Effective leaders in the fire service are no different than those they manage. Management principles must start at the top and flow downward through the chain of command. Lower-level officers often find it difficult to practice leadership styles different from their superiors if we are not practicing what we preach.

Common sense is not without its merits. However, it’s just one tool mangers use, along with consistent education and training, to help members understand that decisions made at the member level may resolve an issue temporarily but that some decisions need to be made from a wider perspective, such as seen by the department leadership, to have lasting effects.

Team Spirit

If you are going to wear the jersey, become a team player. A spirit of cooperation is a powerful tool, meaning sometimes you will have to change your focus and direction for the betterment of the organization. Staff meetings are critical, can be very efficient and should be inclusive. All aspects of the department, both supervisors and members, should be able to sit at the table and present ideas to management on a regular basis.

The fire and emergency service is a very complex field that is constantly evolving, often very rapidly. Individual skills can make or break an organization and can best be managed when the leaders feel the pulse, which can only happen in a huddle (that is, staff meetings).
When employees are given the opportunity to provide input, self-ownership takes over and the stronger players have a way of getting the weaker players to buy into their goals and objectives. As a manager and part of the team, you have the authority to make things happen. Never let power keep you on the sidelines.

Influence

Black’s Law Dictionary defines influence as

“Power exerted over others. To affect, modify or act upon by physical, mental or moral power, especially in some gentle, subtle and gradual way.”

A lot can be said about influence depending on who is in charge. I like the phrase “gentle, subtle and gradual way” because it takes the sting out of having to use force to achieve goals and objectives in running an efficient fire service organization. The truism “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” goes a long way in making people feel appreciated.
Managers are held to a higher standard and are always being watched, filmed, recorded and scrutinized. Managers can get in trouble for off-duty actions, sometimes forgetting we’re always on the radar. Fire service leaders who excel do so because they’re on top of their games. More often than not, we forget that we’re human; it’s not the big things hurting us, but the illegal, unethical or immoral acts that destroy us because we don’t think things through.

Education = Knowledge = Success = Power

As an administrator, you have the authority to manage the performance within your organization. It takes a long time to build character and excel to the level of leadership in the fire service. It only takes a split second to crash and burn. As a leader, you owe it to yourself, your family and the entire fire service to finish strong, making a colossal impact on the organization you represent.

Chief Benoit is a member of the IAFC Human Relations Committee and currently sits on the executive board of the IAFC-Southwestern Division

NFPA 3000 standard released in May

NFPA releases the world’s first active shooter/hostile event standard with guidance on whole community planning, response, and recovery

Timely, critical document was developed with insight from law enforcement, fire, EMS, medical providers, facility managers, private industry, DHS, the CIA, FBI and others

May 1, 2018 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released NFPA 3000TM (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program to help communities holistically deal with the fast-growing number of mass casualty incidents that continue to occur throughout the world. Serving as the first of its kind, NFPA 3000 provides unified planning, response and recovery guidance, as well as civilian and responder safety considerations.

“The NFPA 3000 process, from start to finish, has been an exceptional example of emergency responders and other safety-focused practitioners swiftly coming together to provide invaluable perspective and address a significant threat in our world,” NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley said. “The proactive, integrated strategies recommended and defined in NFPA 3000 will go a long way in helping communities plan, respond and recover from active shooter and hostile events.”

This marks only the second time in NFPA’s 122-year history that they have issued a provisional standard. Provisional standards are developed in an expedited process to address an emergency situation or other special circumstance.

After the Pulse Nightclub massacre in June of 2016, Chief Otto Drozd of Orange County Fire in Florida requested that NFPA develop a standard to help authorities come together and create a well-defined, cohesive plan that works to minimize harm and maximize resiliency. NFPA responded by establishing the NFPA Technical Committee on Cross Functional Emergency Preparedness and Response. In mid-April, NFPA 3000 was issued by the NFPA Standards Council, making it the first consensus document related to active shooter and hostile events.

The 46-member Technical Committee responsible for NFPA 3000 is NFPA’s largest startup Committee, to date, with representation from law enforcement, the fire service, emergency medical services, hospitals, emergency management, private security, private business, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice, and many more. Committee members provided job-specific insight and real world observations from mass killings at Mandalay Bay Resort, Pulse Nightclub, Sandy Hook Elementary, the Sikh Temple, the Boston Marathon, and other less publicized events.

NFPA 3000 helps entire communities organize, manage, communicate, and sustain an active shooter/hostile event preparedness, response, and recovery program. In addition to offering NFPA 3000 via a new digital subscription – which will be updated automatically when the next edition becomes available – NFPA is offering an Online Training Series (the first of three courses are available now); a downloadable checklist; a readiness assessment document; and fact sheet for authorities to learn more about establishing a proactive, collaborative active shooter/hostile event program.

Some have asked why NFPA would be the organization to develop an active shooter standard. “For more than a century, NFPA has facilitated a respected consensus process that has produced some of the most widely used codes and standards in the world including more than 100 that impact first responders. Our purview goes far beyond our fire safety efforts as evidenced by our ongoing work to address new hazards with professionals in public safety, emergency management, community risk, electrical services, the energy sector, engineering, the chemical and industrial industries, healthcare, manufacturing, research, the government, and the built environment. The recent increase in active shooter incidents and the fire service involvement in them warranted NFPA’s standards development expertise, and the timely development of NFPA 3000,” Pauley said.

NFPA 3000 cover artwork is available online. For this release and other announcements about NFPA initiatives, research and resources, please visit the NFPA press room.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

Leadership Academy receiving excellent reviews 

SWFCA recently launched their 6 month leadership training coaching and mentoring program at the Oklahoma City Fire Training Center.  The class was filled to near capacity for this inaugural class of 2017. 

Participants traveled from other regions to take advantage of this remarkable training program. 

State Fire Marshal Robert Doke welcomed the class to Oklahoma and emphasized the importance of leadership skills and training in all aspects of community. Also President Tom Bradley, Fire Chief of Stillwater Oklahoma and current President of the division spoke on behalf of the board of directors and state of Oklahoma about the decision to bring this unique opportunity to the IAFC-SW membership.  

As your division elected leadership, we are committed to offering you the benefits you’ve asked for and deserve as a member of the IAFC.

Here is some feedback that we have already received after the initial 2-day classroom group: 

The course was great.  Honestly better than I expected

Training officer & volunteer fire chief – Oklahoma

 I am looking forward to the online classes to see how they turn out and what the interaction is like. 

 Oklahoma volunteer officer 

First time I’ve worked on my personal skills and I look forward to the follow-up classes

Fire officer, Lexington, SC 
We want to thank Chief Richard Kelley, OCFD for hosting this class!

There will be a wrap-up session and graduation ceremony in October in conjunction with the division’s executive leadership conference in Houston, TX

If you or your department would like to host a class, please contact Lisa Moatts lmoatts@swd-iafc.org or call 843-694-2768


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