Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Why not make a CHANGE?

To start off 2013, I figured discussing the dreaded “change” battle in the firehouse would be appropriate. In my last blog entry, I challenged everyone to do a firefighter reflection for 2012. If you took the time to meet the challenge, you likely identified several areas that you will be “changing” or “upgrading”. Change is not a bad thing, but often as firefighters, we fear change and the unknown that surrounds it. Why?

Changing just for the sake of change is foolish. Change should only occur in the firehouse if it is for the purpose of improving the company, the service provided, or improving firefighters. You can try to get buy in from everyone in the company, but more times than not, you will have 1-3 people that will fight it, no matter how smart the change is.

So why is change fought so tough?

1. “I do not like ideas I did not come up with.”
I also call this “manager syndrome”. Managers like to have full control typically. They focus their time on “managing” others and delegating work. When it comes to decision-making or suggestions of change, these “managers” will often become offended, argumentative, and withdrawn, as they do not like “subordinates” thinking. It threatens them and their position, and shakes their psyche to think that someone else is potentially receiving credit and able to think without them telling you what to think. The opposite of the “manager syndrome” is a leader. A leader promotes new ideas and concepts and promotes using your head in the firehouse. A leader will allow his guys to think on their own and explore new ideas and concepts.

2. “We have always done it this way. Why change it if it is not broken?”
This statement screams, “I hate change.” Making a change in an area of the way we do business does not mean that the old way was “broken”. It simply means that you are progressive in the job, and intelligent enough to seek improved methods to the job. If you are a firefighter that “Gets It”, you constantly seek ways to improve your craft and the craft of the company. You don’t forget your old way of doing it; you just put it in the toolbox as plan B. If the new plan doesn’t work out, pull out plan B. If you don’t have a plan B, you don’t “Get It”.

3. “I don’t like the guy that came up with this, so I am not giving it a chance.”
Are you serious? Since when did we become a high school with cliques shaping how we make decisions? I don’t care if I cannot stand “Firefighter A”, we have a job to do and anything that relates to the job, our performance, and ultimately our survival will require me to work with “Firefighter A.”  Get it or get out.

4. “I will have to learn something new if we change that.”
If you fall into this category, you need to take a long look in the mirror and decide if this is the job for you. Training and sharpening of concepts is continuous.

5. “This is not <Insert any other fire department name here>.”
Have you ever thought that maybe someone else has thought of something that works a little better? Networking has become huge in social media. Why are we not networking our ideas throughout the country?  Your company might have figured out a method that will help a company on the other side of the country.

After over 10 years in the service, these are the top 5 reasons and mentalities that I have seen that cause resistance to change. All of these 5 have one thing in common……….fear.

The main reason for a resistance to change is FEAR. FEAR that someone will look better than you, FEAR you will have to train on something new, FEAR that you will look stupid, FEAR that giving into this change will create a situation where more change will occur, and FEAR that someone else is right.

“Fear can be more crippling than any physically debilitating disease”
–Dr.Richard Gasaway

So what do we do to combat the anti-change movement? 

We stand our ground and continue to do what is right. If you are a firefighter that “Gets It”, you will continue to ignore these mutts, stand your ground when you propose new concepts and ideas, and do not let these people dampen your drive to progress in the job.  Always promote the company before yourself.

Stay safe out there; train hard, and Happy New Year. Shoot me an email and let me know what changes you want to make this year at your company. I am interested to hear it.  Email me at graney@tailboardfirefighting.com

Dr.Richard Gasaway who is quoted in this article is with Situational Awareness Matters. Check out his website at www.samatters.com. He is a pretty smart guy with a good message.

Some social media connections to make for 2013:
Follow me on twitter: @justingraney
Connect with me on LinkedIn: Justin Graney
Follow Tailboard on twitter: @tailboardfd
Like Tailboard on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tailboardfirefighting

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