Thursday, January 12, 2017

Values Alignment for First Responders and More

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

I am thankful for many things--only one of which is our first responders. Law enforcement and fire personnel lay their lives on the line every day. Their jobs are immensely stressful and demanding, and 99% of them serve with grace, skill and speed.

Skill alone doesn’t make a firefighter or law enforcement officer effective. The culture of their department has a huge influence on them.  If it tolerates unsafe or disrespectful behavior, it is very likely the first responder will carry that with them. They may withhold information or have a lack of respect for one another. They may be publicly critical or dismiss the accomplishments of others. They may lack confidence in the commands of their superiors. These behaviors create distrust, which is potentially disastrous.

If their department's culture tolerates disrespectful or dangerous behaviors, it is likely that the players in that culture will embrace those behaviors. They will not share information. They will not support each other. They criticize others' decisions publicly. They discount others' efforts and accomplishments. They may hesitate to act upon the commands of superiors--all of this could have potentially disastrous results.

Whether in the fire department, retail store, office, restaurant or police station you will only get a purposeful, positive, productive culture by design, not default.

Doing this well takes daily attention to clear intentions. Creating clear performance expectations and understood citizenship expectations, with consistent accountability for both, will bring significant benefits such as:

*Employee engagement up by 40%
*Customer service increased by 40%
*Profit and results jumped by 35%

All within 18 months.

These results occur at organizations that institute an
organizational constitution (which includes your team’s servant purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals).

It is not common for law enforcement or fire protection organizations to get involved in this process. Even thought defining the constitution is the simple part of the journey, it does take a lot of effort and time to do right.

Once you have established your organizational constitution, the rubber meets the road when it is time to model and coach the desired behaviors and hold people accountable.
I have enjoyed working with firefighters since the 1980's when two served on the board of my YMCA. Getting to know them helped me see how very demanding their jobs are, and how dedicated they are to serving.

A member of the Bend, Oregon, USA, Fire & Rescue squad shared how his team is working toward a high performing, values-aligned work environment.  Their specific values include:


In formalizing these values and behaviors, Bend Firefighters know that they are responsible for more than just applying skills to their jobs. They are expected to treat others with compassion and respect. They are to conduct themselves with humility and integrity. They are to show resilience and optimism even in the tough moments.

The Bend Fire Department praises aligned behavior and redirects misaligned behavior so that they can make progress every day. Moreover, aligned behavior like this just might help keep them a little safer, too.

How precisely does your organization define citizenship? What type of constitution do you have? It is the key to an effective culture.

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here

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