It takes a team to run a successful EMS agency and to answer the calls for help in your community. Everyone, from the top managers and leaders, to the newest recruits learning to ride the rig, has to play a part living out the agency’s mission statement. “A mission statement, a statement of purpose, is a statement which is used to communicate the purpose of an organization,” (Wikipedia); mission statements should be reviewed and updated as necessary.
Your agency’s goals and rules need to be written and adhered to by everyone equally. Leaders and managers need to set examples of appropriate behavior, acknowledge the efforts and accomplishments of the people working under them, and deal with problems before they become obstacles. Good managers keep the interests of the “company” in the forefront while good leaders provide examples, and great chiefs provide encouragement to all members to work together to provide an effective emergency response in a community.
Training is mandatory in EMS, from the medical know-how, to the agency protocols. The management team and longtime employees and crew members should constantly look for better ways to accomplish their mission, to respond, to document and to learn. Just because “this is the way” it’s been done in the past doesn’t mean this is the only way. Whether your agency is all volunteer or paid, each member needs to know that he or she is an important part of the organization, part of a team, and is vital to improving the service and helping to meet the needs of your service area. No one person has all of the necessary answers, no one person is always right (or always wrong), and no one person is indispensable. A good manager will see to it that all team/crew members are allowed to discuss and evaluate methods, and TO BE HEARD.
Problems should be dealt with as they occur and not put off for a later or more comfortable time. Poor decisions that are allowed to repeat themselves become learned behavior, resentment builds from others who are following accepted rules, and managers find themselves having to break down walls in order to make corrections. When confronting an employee about a problem, whether the action is retraining or discipline, remember that the person that is being dealt with is a human being. Use discipline as a learning experience and not as humiliation or punishment. Praise in public and scold in private.
Discipline, when necessary, should be done in steps that meet the poor behavior with the first reaction being retraining. Always give the member a chance to voice why or how the incident occurred, especially if the offense is first time and relatively minor; sometimes extenuating circumstances may temper the reaction. Always provide written rules for every member to be familiar with and adhere to, document any disciplinary actions thoroughly, and always make sure that all discussions and disciplinary actions are witnessed by at least one other person in the room.
There are a few times when employees/members and your agency are not meant to be together and it is in the best interests of all concerned to part ways. When an employee leaves, he/she should be granted an exit interview and given the opportunity to present his views about what went wrong; the information offered should be considered and management should be assessed for effectiveness. This information and any changes made as a result of the opinions offered should be used to further the teamwork, the running of the organization, and meeting the mission statement. Periodic discussions during the employee’s tenure may help to save the relationship and keep the agency running smooth.
Consistency, shared information, active listening, honesty and mutual determination can help to make your agency stronger and more successful!