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7. Course Corrections – Getting Back on Track

Welcome back friends!  So far we have focused on ways you can manifest professional growth.  Today, we are going to pause for a moment and take a look at things that impede growth or interrupt your journey.

Can you think of someone that did something that cost them their job?  If not, a little investiGoogling will reveal a list.  Just beneath the formal cause for termination you’ll likely find signs of boredom, frustration, complacency, apathy and ignorance. Most importantly, the root of the incident is personal choice.

Extensive background investigations make sure public safety employees are of strong moral character when hired.  How can someone go from squeaky clean to termination in just a few years? Although it seems to happen quickly, it may actually happen over time through small sequential steps and choices.

Initial training includes daily observation and evaluation.  As new employees begin to perform independently, their behavior is generally in line with policy and if it isn’t someone will bring it to their attention.  Once proficiency is proven, the scrutiny lessens as trust in performance and behavior is established.  It is at this point that many become vulnerable as focus is diverted from policy and procedure and performance is  influenced by peers.

Process design may call for details that peers find unimportant, so they skip steps or alter them.  Maybe it is address or phone number verification, information obtained or documented, or unit support protocols.  Or it could be deviation from conduct expectations for arrival to work, dress code, attitude, customer service, interpersonal relationships, etc.  Peers are observed taking shortcuts and others get the impression that their actions are acceptable or any risks caused are low.

The more comfortable an employee feels with their peers the more they will alter performance to come into alignment with peers.  This often occurs without consideration that these “minor tweaks” will be noticed or have a negative impact.  Over time these small alterations compound and may result in significant missteps that could end tragically for callers or first responders or result in low morale and poor satisfaction with the work environment.

If this sounds familiar to you, a Course Correction is needed to get things back on track.  Once you see the problem, the steps to fix it generally include going back to basics and adjusting your focus.  Instead of looking around at how peers are performing, look at the protocols, policies, standard operating guidelines to determine what success looks like.  In addition to conduct guidelines, you’ll never go wrong by being kind, helpful, humble and grateful in your interactions with others. Once you see what steps you need to take, take them and make better choices.

Course Corrections require strength, determination and internal leadership to get yourself back on track.   You can model leadership by modifying your performance to adhere to protocols and conduct expectations that are unappreciated or not respected by peers.  You can lead-up by discussing your observations and actions with supervisors and managers.  Best of all following procedures will result in an inherent confidence in your performance while delivering the expected outcome established by management and your department.

This post is a little different, but our goal is to support you on your journey, including helping you recognize when a Course Correction is needed.  Minor Course Correction can keep you focused on your end goal, empowering personal and professional growth.  Now, go look for some joy – or better yet, be the joy for someone else!

Content Contributed by AZ APCO-NENA Executive Board Member Kimberly Clark, ENP “The 911 Maven”

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