Can We Do It Better?

This question always lingers, “Can we do it better?” What does it take? How do we get everyone involved and make it stick? How do we build a culture that wants to do it better?

KCADIB

We live in different and dangerous times today. Our incidents are getting crazier and more complex. We’re challenged by mysterious bio-hazards, unprecedented natural disasters, and unexpected terrorism that can happen anywhere. Our communities are becoming more diverse and they need our help with risk reduction and education.

To face these ever-changing and complex challenges, we must continue to do it better. There are a lot of people counting on us, so we have to be ready for anything, at anytime, and anywhere.

Here are a few suggestions on how we can do it better:

Train and Work Safer

Train, respond, and work safely. Wear your seat belts and your SCBA. Stop breathing so much smoke. Follow your policies and procedures and execute them safely. Stay aware of everything, and watch over your brothers and sisters; have their backs. Speak up when you need to, in the right way. Maintain the readiness of your equipment, and use it properly and when you’re supposed to. Practice personal accountability, all the time. And, know where you are at all times.

Practice and Master Your Skills

Whether operating a saw or starting an IV line, don’t just settle for proficiency; be a master at what you do. Stay physically fit, because your work involves great physical exertion. Keep learning about everything. Know why and how we do things, not just what to do. Be disciplined and use the incident command system. Constantly train for readiness and improvement. Always look back at what you did and ask, “How can I do it better next time?”

Act Like a Professional with Honor and Integrity

Be courageous, but calm. Be patient, because it can be difficult dealing with people who are in a considerable state of stress. Sometimes they are the people you work with. Practice a positive image, everywhere and all the time. Set a good example for the young people in your community. Get involved in your fire department and your community, and provide ideas to make the job safer and the community better.

Treat Others Better and Practice Servant Leadership

Be nice to everyone you encounter, especially the people you work with. Practice compassion and consideration for everyone. Engage the people in your community, including the leaders, staff, and citizens. Get to know them and what they need. Improve relationships with other agencies, especially law enforcement; we need to have their backs. Be a servant to others, because that’s the true calling of the fire service.

It’s not a matter of can we do it better, we have to do it better. Start this discussion in your fire department. Ask that lingering question, “Can we do it better?” And if each of us keeps calm and makes a real effort, we will do it better.

3 Ways to Trickle Customer Service Down Through Your Organization

Customer service trickles down from leadership, through members, to customers. Photo by Kim Fitzsimmons.

Customer service trickles down from leadership, through members, to customers. Photo by Kim Fitzsimmons.

Every organization serves customers. Retail stores, governments, hospitals and restaurants they all serve customers, both internally and externally. So, shouldn’t meeting the needs of all of their customers be a top priority? Trickle-down service may be the most effective way to serve everyone.

Fire departments, like other organizations,  are trying to make their way through tough economical times while maintaining, or improving, their customer service. But operational decisions made while weathering a storm must not ignore your organization’s first customers, your members. Making drastic changes, even if needed, must be done with care in order to meet the service needs of your members first. Take care of your members first, and, as a result, they will feel better about what they do. Your members deal directly with the community, so customer service is a key part of their responsibilities. Here are some ways to trickle customer service down through your organization:

  • Customer service trickles down from leadership, through members, to customers. Bypassing your members will not improve your customer service. Your members are the people on the front lines with your customers. You have to go through your members first.
  • Happy members make customers and the organization’s leaders happy. When your members experience good customer service they are happy. When your members are happy they serve their customers better. When your members and their customers are happy, well then, your organization’s leaders have no choice but to be happy. Everyone is happy!
  • Happy members help the organization work better. Unhappy members do not make extra effort to help, and sometimes make things worse causing more financial problems and less efficiency. Whereas, happy members contribute and take responsibility to make their organization better. They take initiative and go the extra mile. To improve your organization, keep your members happy!

How is the customer service at your organization? How have you tried to increase it through your members? Are your members happy?

This was originally posted on July 18, 2012.

Our Mission Statement in 4 Short Sentences

Photo by Kim Fitzsimmons

Photo by Kim Fitzsimmons

Like most fire departments, we have a kind of sterile mission statement that’s enclosed in a picture frame or found at the bottom of our letterhead. In short, it focuses on these five areas: employee health and safety, customer relations, quality, efficiency, and recently we added fiscal sustainability (not a bad idea in today’s crazy economic world).

I believe in our mission, but also think it’s too long and doesn’t carry a punch. So, for better clarity, and a little more impact, here’s what I preach to the troops, in 4 short sentences:

Be safe. Be a master at what you do. Be professional. And, be nice.

Here’s a little more detail on each one:

  • Be Safe. Respond safely, work safely, and train safely. Follow your policies and standard operating procedures, and execute them safely and effectively. Stay aware of everything. Watch over your brothers and sisters and have their back. Speak up when you need to, and say it right. Continue to maintain the readiness of your safety equipment, and use it properly when you’re supposed to. Practice personnel accountability, all the time; and know where you are at all times.
  • Be a master a what you do. Don’t just settle for competence, be a master at what you do. You have to, because people are counting on you. Stay physically fit, because your work involves great physical exertion. Stay mentally fit. Be a continuous learner; read books, go to conferences, and get a college education. Cultivate your powers of observation and have inquiring minds. Know WHY and HOW to do things, not just what to do. Communicate effectively and often. Have the initiative and will to keep going. Be disciplined and follow orders. Constantly train for readiness and improvement. Arrive on scene ready and prepared to help. Always look back at what you did and ask, HOW can I do it better next time?
  • Be Professional. Be courageous, but calm. Be patient, because it can be difficult dealing with people who are in a state of considerable stress (sometimes, including your brothers and sisters). Practice a positive image everywhere, all the time. Consider every person a customer, especially the other members of your Department, the support people, and the administrative staff. Maintain your fire house, your truck, and your equipment in a constant state of readiness; and do it with pride in appearance. Maintain pride in your appearance and wear your uniform proudly. Get involved and provide ideas to make the job easier, safer, and more enjoyable for all of us.
  • And last, but most important, be nice. You’re in the people business, so be nice to everyone you encounter. Behave and work with your peers, not against them. Be a servant to others, because it’s the true calling of the fire service. Practice compassion and consideration for everyone, including customers, bystanders, family members, and fire department members; show that you care. Treat each other and the public with respect. Help people and do a little more.

These are my four simple suggestions for a mission. If each of us makes an effort to follow these, we will have a safe and rewarding career.

What’s your simple mission?

Trickle-Down Customer Service

Customer service trickles down from leadership, through members, to customers. Photo by Kim Fitzsimmons.

Customer service trickles down from leadership, through members, to customers. Photo by Kim Fitzsimmons.

Every organization serves customers. Retail stores, governments, hospitals and restaurants they all serve customers, both internally and externally. So, shouldn’t meeting the needs of all of their customers be a top priority? Trickle-down service may be the most effective way to serve everyone.

Fire departments, like other organizations,  are trying to make their way through tough economical times while maintaining, or improving, their customer service. But operational decisions made while weathering a storm must not ignore your organization’s first customers, your members. Making drastic changes, even if needed, must be done with care in order to meet the service needs of your members first. Take care of your members first, and, as a result, they will feel better about what they do. Your members deal directly with the community, so customer service is a key part of their responsibilities. Here are some ways to trickle customer service down through your organization:

  • Customer service trickles down from leadership, through members, to customers. Bypassing your members will not improve your customer service. Your members are the people on the front lines with your customers. You have to go through your members first.
  • Happy members make customers and the organization’s leaders happy. When your members experience good customer service they are happy. When your members are happy they serve their customers better. When your members and their customers are happy, well then, your organization’s leaders have no choice but to be happy. Everyone is happy!
  • Happy members help the organization work better. Unhappy members do not make extra effort to help, and sometimes make things worse causing more financial problems and less efficiency. Whereas, happy members contribute and take responsibility to make their organization better. They take initiative and go the extra mile. To improve your organization, keep your members happy!

How is the customer service at your organization? How have you tried to increase it through your members? Are your members happy?