Recently, I had the opportunity to sit in on a great organizational seminar called “Herding Ostriches” developed by Kate Sheridan. This was the second time she had been in our organization. She is well spoken, articulate, and she is very easy to talk to about organizational problems, mainly because her background has been very successful in leading organizations. She understands the nuisance of making any organization, no matter the size, successful.
I tend to be outspoken, but I only speak when there are serious issues that need to be addressed. What I have found is most people are afraid to speak openly and honestly to their employers because they will be ostracized from the group. This is especially true in governmental run organizations. There is a clear lack of thinking outside the box, and the leadership from top to bottom lacks the ability to see how successful businesses are run. The “good ole boy” system promotes based on political back rubbing, not on the experience, education, or forward thinking by other employees. This is the reason why governmental organizations use a hierarchical chain of command, in which its employees are unable to think for themselves. While GOG’s or SOP’s are important, those who use these policies should be the very ones who develop these polices. This is the reason why organizations like Charleston EMS are successful. They encourage their employees to find results because they know ultimately these employees are the ones who are going to use them, so they should be the ones to develop the procedures, which streamline work productivity, producing effective and efficient work.
The class I attended pushed for our honest and open feedback, and we were told to speak freely, so she could do an honest assessment on our organization. It has been several months since the class, and nothing has been done to create an environment that inspires others. I have heard she is not welcome back because it created such a hot topic for discussion. I also found there were people who talked about the organization and some of the issues that needed to be addressed outside of work, but when it came time to discuss them in an open forum, they closed down, and they changed their tone. They pretended as though nothing was ever said. If you look at organizations like Google, Apple, or Microsoft, they allow and encourage their employees to find solutions to the company’s problems. While the ultimate decision rests on management, the employees are given the tools to find a solution. This is the reason why the greatest minds are working for these companies, and this is the same reason why there is low pay, over worked, and under appreciated employees in most governmental systems.
There has to be a shift in this type of thinking. New policy implementation does not always work out the way we intend, and there should be an alternative plan ready. Many supervisors have lost touch with reality, they see things as their way and their ideas, without understanding or seeing the problems associated with their inept decisions. It has been years since many of them have worked in these positions, and they have not had to deal with the increased work load and unrealistic working environment that could get someone killed. Yes, I said killed.
So here is a question I would like to pose to you. What do you when you know the policy you are using can have catastrophic consequences for not only you and your co-workers, but the public and responders? How would you handle it? Documentation, research, and a wide variety of incidents have been reported to your superiors, but they are not changing the current policies. Even the terms malfeasance and misfeasance have been brought to their attention, and yet they continue to ignore your cry for help. Does this ultimately hold you responsible for their lack of action? or Are you just as at fault because you did not do anything about it?