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Welcome to my site and thank you for reading. After many times thinking, if only I had a blog, well-- here we are. This blog will feature writings on a variety of topics from roadside food, to leadership in the fire service; politics; culture- gay, straight, and indifferent, my experiences in Ohio, New York and beyond; and much much more. It's my hope that you will find it interesting and that it stirs at least some thought and discussion. I am certain you wont always agree, but that is what its all about right? Oh and one more thing: The views expressed on this site are entirely my own. They do not reflect in anyway the views or positions of my employer.



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dispatch Basics: My Supervisor Hates Me

Psst.  Hey You.  Yes you. You are the new person right?  Well come over here.  (Note: use the Scott Farkas voice from Christmas Story here).  I want to talk to you. You need to know something.  It is really important.  Ready? Ok, here it is...

Not everyone you work with in the 9-1-1 Center will like you right away.

There, I said it.  Are you okay?  Good  Now go do your damn job. 

Listen, I know that we all seem to want everyone to like us, always.  And that we have a real issue with bullying and negativity in the workplace which truly make some places miserable to work in.  There are more than a few nasty people out there in the seats.  However, there is another side to the growing concern about bullying and negativity that we must also acknowledge if we are to be successful. 

As a new Dispatcher in the 9-1-1 Center, other people are dependent on you.  The public is dependent on you.  The Director is dependent on you, as well as all of the responders who are on the other side of the radio or the phone.  This means they have to rely on you  100% of the time.  How many careers of 9-1-1 professionals have been tanked by the actions of someone else in the room?  (Don't answer, its better not to think about it)

Now, if all of these other folks depend on you, they must trust you completely.  That does not happen overnight.  It happens, if it happens, because you prove yourself by your actions and attitude to be trustable.  If you are late, if you don't learn what you need to, if you have a bad attitude, it means that your co-workers will be unable to trust you.  That is a sick and sad feeling not just for you, but for them too!  

Imagine you have to have a major operation.  The Doctor walks in and looks like he or she is 18 years old.  You find out that this will be the first surgery that they have ever performed after graduating med school at 18. You are told they are the smartest doctor ever.  But, there are no online reviews.  There is no history to review.  Its just you, a brand new doctor, their story, and the operating room. Good Luck!

How would you feel in this situation compared to being operated on by the doctor you have had for twenty years?  I can safely assume you would feel more comfortable trusting your future to someone you know, even if they maybe aren't the smartest doctor ever or the 21st century version of Doogie Houser.  

This is why building that trust is so critical.  It is why new folks are often held at a distance by a shift and/or a supervisor.  Until they learn to trust you, they have to be that way.  Their careers, the lives of the responders they are friends with (or maybe married to!) are on the line and in your hands.  That doesn't give them the right to be rude or not help you, but it is likely why they wont invite you to play the "Reindeer Games" on your first weeks on shift.  This does not warrant a complaint to the HR department or for you to quit in anger that they are not "buddy-buddy" with you like they are with each other. 

It is much more a call to action on your part and a hint at what is possible once your prove yourself.  The family feeling of being in the 9-1-1 world is not an automatic benefit of walking in the door.  It is a result of being a valued member of the team whom others can count on.  To paraphrase the Old Smith Barney Commercials: "We make our best team the old fashioned way, by having our dispatchers earn the trust of their co-workers",

So, don't be shocked when it takes a while for everyone to warm up to you.  Do the right thing. Every shift and every day.  And if you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize, and ask for insight on how you can do better.  That is how you build trust, how you become a valued member of the team, and how you will have a successful career. 

By all means, if there is real harassment going on, report it.  But often, its just the normal process of building an effective team playing out.  Take the time to know the difference and accept that you might be the outsider for a little while.  Keep your ears open, mouth closed, and, in-time, you will be a full fledged member of the team and know first-hand the wonderful feeling of earning your trophy from hard work and dedication, instead of just having it handed to you for showing up.  More importantly, you will know what its like to be a part of the 9-1-1 family and experience the trust and respect that will result.

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