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Friday

A note on poor performance

The following is a rant about poor performance and bad leadership… read on with caution.
Why do we accept poor performance? 

Are we afraid of change? Are we afraid people won't work and/or volunteer at our service anymore? Does our leadership lack the fortitude to correct unacceptable behaviors and poor performance?
Every one of us can cite examples of poor performance that is allowed to continue each and every day. Sometimes this poor performance is a result of bad behavior, bad behavior that is allowed to continue without correction, or less often, behavior out of ignorance.

Quite often the phrase “because we've always done it that way” is attached to one of these situations.  Sometimes I'll hear people say “because that's the way they want us to do it”. But more often than not poor performance and dangerous behavior is linked to equally poor supervision and leadership in something called error creep.

When I hear “that's what they want us to do it”  I'll challenge someone to tell me who exactly they are. Typically when I hear the “they” come out of somebody's mouth it's a result of some misinterpretation of a rumor and not fact. The term “they” often refers to some governing body or person. Used in this context, I have to wonder why we let other people or governing bodies make decisions for us. In some cases it is clearly unavoidable when it comes to governing bodies and their decisions on how we do business. We have to accept that. But when instructions don't make sense or don't fit common sense in a situation we should be questioning the authority… respectfully and professionally.

No blind obedience.  Take a stand...and don't just do something...especially when that action may endanger ourselves or others.

Error creep is a situation where people make small and insignificant mistakes over a longer time. And when those small and insignificant mistakes turn into habit we begin to see the problem that has been brewing sometimes for years. The point is that when error becomes commonplace and cannot be distinguished from proper practice, it often becomes accepted as the norm. Eventually these small and insignificant mistakes (that is, seemingly small and insignificant) will result in a critical failure and poor outcome.

Emergency service leadership, in all its forms, must have the backbone and fortitude to correct bad behavior and prevent poor performance. It's not comfortable to do so. It's not popular to do so. But it can be deadly not to do so.

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