One of the biggest morale killers in the firehouse can be the negative attitude or behavior of a single firefighter. Negativity loves Company!  Now if you are a fire officer who works for a fire department who does not offer you a professional development program, how are you expected to better yourself and your subordinates? FETC Services delivered a live talk radio show on the subject matter. You can hear the archived podcast here:

 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/fireengineeringtalkradio/2011/06/22/ep...

 

Hope everyone had a safe and wonderful 4th of July.  We would love to hear what you think of the show.

 

FETC 

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i think try turning the negetive into a positive
We take the negative member and hang them upside down in the hose tower during our meeting, they usually change their tune when we let them down and make them sing Barney's "I Love You" song. LOL Imagine that.

As an officer I try to get to the negative member ASAP and have a one-on-one with them to find out what is wrong. Most of the time there is some underlying issue that makes them negative, like having an officer they dont like or that picks on them, or not having enough training, or feeling left out of things. The more you talk to them and not down to them the more you get, and hopefully the negativity stops, or its the hose tower!!! lol

Than, like Sarah mentioned, have them try to focus the negative into a solution for the positive. Talk things out with members they have issues with, or try to settle any arguments they might be having with other members or officers, or try to ensure that things are being done for the future but you need their help to get it done. If they feel they are needed to help, then the negativity goes away.
Good Topic.
Stay Safe
We just got rid of a negative member by voting him to be the Vol LT to career crew at our sub station which has a career Capt. So he up and left. Our vol chief and others have been trying to get rid of the guy. He knew his stuff but his mental thoughts that he was in charge of everything was doing him in. He complained that he didn't want to ask to ride with the career crew when no vol officers or other members were around.
This guy ran off alot of prospect members and tried to buffalo alot of memebers and officers with years in the dept. He had been from station to station in our area and when we tried to corner him on something illegal he went out and got legal help for the trail board.
All I got to say is that where he has landed now will soon be throwing him out the door and I hope he never trys to come back to our station.
Voodoo Dolls
We don't have the option of voting people off, which sometimes would be great! We have our share of negative firefighters, and I'm really not sure why. Our numbers of members suffering serious stress issues is on the rise and the "Surprise" felt by our recruits after leaving recruit school is astonishing and unfortunate.
By minute 14, I knew this was something I had to share with my Chiefs and hope that the message gets spread to the stations. The comment on self esteem being developed based on how you are treated really hit home.
Without getting into it, I think this should be listened to by everyone!
It also does depend on what is spurring negativity and sometimes it is more than up to the officer or crew to remedy. When you have serious morale issues within the dept or even city, then there is only so much a single company officer can do.

For instance, we see an unprecendented attack on public workers throughout the country here and those affects of the attack do have serious morale consequences. there is nothing like a slap in the face when elected official say how great of a job you do etc, etc, and then turn around and say you aren't worth it to pay you or benefits. Yes, this does have an impact and soryy, there really is no way to turn such crap around into a positive.

Now I agree negativity can be a cancer, but so does bottling things up. You are around a kitchen table, say your piece and move on. For bigger policitcal issues, the answer lies in getting such clowns out of office. Sometimes it takes a one on one to quell the issues.





On the flip side of things, we see mention of an officer development program, well I have seen the officers being the ones to spread the negativity. It doesn't matter about the training if one person does have the issue and if said person is the company officer, then what? If the probem is morale dept wide, etc how does it get addressed when those above may not see the issues, or agree but do nothing? Let's not just stop at the subordinate members, there can be many ranks which a negativity aspect is initiated, and the higher up, the more it quicker it spreads. Putting on a "happy face" and doing the job goes only so far, but just like a cancer, the issue needs to be addressed.
Spanner - Thanks for the comments. Well I hope it is shared with everyone you know. It is something that is not delivered in Fire Officer 1 or 2. We are in the people business. We are supposed to be leaders, hence the term leadership but many who have never been given the correct tools or training fall back on what has been shown, in these classes. Most of which are management skills, tasks, chores, objective based things that need to be done to function as a company, a group, a department. None of which, develop the future leaders of tomorrow.

BTW: If you liked that episode, you should check out Episode 27 in the same archive, that was on personality based effective communications. And that will help you understand why some people say or do what they do based on their individual personalities.

John - I agree with you that many times the negativity originates from the officers. In the radio show we talk about working for Chief's who had bad leadership qualities. My point of this segment was not to show how to lead a 1000 man department from one man, it was to show how to establish a leadership development program that could be delivered to all the officers of the department. If you have a nasty lieutenant, then shame on his or her Captain for allowing the behavior and not correcting it via daily, weekly, or annual personal evaluations or reviews.

But then again,(these officers regardless of rank) who are supposed to be leaders have probably never been shown or given true leadership ways to operate, with interpersonal dynamics, training to understand organizational behavior, etc. Many lead from their own personailities. If they have underlying problems or I will stay PC ("weaknesses or liabilities") like being negative, always demeaning to the crew, use their so called power (rank) to demand respect, or micromanage people, they in reality have never been shown any other way to operate... see I didn't say lead.

Now onto the outside stressors like our pensions being attacked and public preception, hey I have those issues as does many of us in the service. The issue here is we are not able to control the uncontrollable. If we are to allow these issues to control our own fate in how we act, how we treat others, and operate then we are never going to ever work in a positive atmosphere again. Can we effect change there? Yes, but it is a long slow process brother, we need to politic when needed, appoint new government, it is a vicious circle that will cycle again. Don't get me wrong, I dislike the fact that my pension may change, but we as a group need solidarity and voice our opinion positiviely and not one guy screaming about how he is getting the wrong end of the deal. If this guy is spreading his own personal disatisfaction to the rest of his crew, and it is affecting said crew's make-up, job performance, and dynamics, then I would have a sit down with him to figure out the underlying root cause of his dismay. Managers would just say, knock off the negative crying. (but that is no fix) It may be that he has a plan and wants to retire at a cetrain age or he is in financial hardship now, after finding out what is causing him to be so negative, then it is the leaders job to steer him in the right direction towards assistance.

Thats a true leader, one who cares about his own.
I will definitely check that out! I'm working on a schedule for a firefighter camp we run here (for young ladies) and I like to put it on flipchart paper. I just filled an entire page with notes I took while listening. Fantastic information. I have had a few tough dealings in the stations I have worked in and currently and dealing with an incredibly negative individual who sees my accomplishments pretty threatening, I'm guessing. He has decided to turn his anger into hatred for me, which he has no problem sharing with others. It's an interesting situation, as no one wants to step in because as you had mentioned, they would rather be silent and not become the next victim.
I have had great luck with most officers, currently my officer's only fault is that he hasn't said something to the offenders and dealt with the situation, simply kept me apprised of any complaints he has had regarding me.
Fortunately I work hard and enjoy being a firefighter, so complaints are tough to substantiate. It gets tough at times and I have considered other employment, but I get so much satisfaction running calls and working around the station.. .as was said, "People don't quit the fire service because they don't like the work!"

Thanks again, off to listen to episode 27.
Spanner,

I'm obviously not privy to what's going on at your station, but if I understand you correctly, your officer's "only fault" is quite a significant one. If he's not intervening, he's failing you - miserably! Don't allow him to sit back and hope the problem just goes away or solves itself. It won't.
Yeah, I know... Silence is acceptance. I did say to both officers in the station, "I'm glad that you're aware and keeping me apprised, but what next? What are WE going to do about it?" Nothing. I'm currently off with an injury so nothing will happen. It's too bad. Heaven forbid I speak to anyone else about it.
Oy! If I weren't in the car today I'd have more time to play on the city's computer and hash this out. I'll get back to you a little later here or on FB. But some hoser officer in Canada needs to start doing his friggin job!
lol... well, I emailed the Chief and my station officers to keep them up to date with my injury and recovery and the Chief asked me to call or come see him today. Not more than 4 minutes passed and my cell phone rang. it was upstairs so I didn't bother running to get it (because I can't.. haha), and it as one of the station officers. I guess he wanted to talk to me first. lol I thought we had already talked, at length about it. I won't jump rank, but I will always answer questions honestly when asked.

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