I overheard two conversations this week that were both the number one big mistakes that I see firefighters make when it comes to mentoring. Both these guys were getting frustrated. They weren’t getting the results that they wanted.
The first ones was a guy that was complaining about the experience level of his immediate supervisor. He had more experience and the supervisor. When asked, hey, are you going to help them become better? He replied That his boss is responsible for his own experience and that it’s not his job to help him. His boss took the promotion and that’s on him. So that’s one way to look at it. Right?
The second conversation I overheard was a guy that was involved with the honor guard for his department and he was noticing that the new guys coming up didn’t seem to have that same passion for the job or understanding of the brotherhood. He stated, it’s not my job to teach them. They got to figure it out for themselves.
Two different conversations, basically talking about the same thing, both individual saying, it’s not my job. They weren’t getting the results they wanted.
So I’m here to tell you that that’s the big mistake that they don’t want to get involved to fix the issue that’s going on.
With the first guy: if you have a supervisor that is not operating at the experience level that you want, help them, train them, work with them. It was your decision not to take the promotion, either because you didn’t want to get the education or you didn’t want to take it? Whatever the case may be, you got to accept the fact that if you are not going to promote, you’re going to get passed up. And if you’re not happy with the people above you then help them become better. Because if you don’t, nothing’s going to change. You’re still going to be frustrated and things are never going to get to the point that you want.
Now, if you’ve got someone below you, same story. The mindset that they should have learned it in the academy or they’re going to learn it on their own is not going to get you want you truly want. Nothing’s going to change unless you decide to take some action and start developing people around you. Help them become better. It’s going to take repetition, its going to take teaching, and if you’re a parent, you’re going to understand this. You know your kid didn’t teach themselves how to wipe their own ass or go to the bathroom, tie their own shoes. You have to show them. We don’t always experience the same things in our life.
The more time we put into the people around us, above or below, to develop them the more its going to make our job easier.
This is going to help things get better and that seems to be this disconnect when it comes to mentoring. The issue is rarely the new people coming in. The issue is the people already on the job that are not wanting to do the work to help bring those people up. One day we’re all going to go on, we’re going to retire, move on to someplace else, whatever the case may be, and those new people are going take our spots. So why don’t we just help them along, share what we know, give them the knowledge that we have so that they don’t have to make the same mistakes that we did.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. I try to teach those around me, give examples where I screwed up and hopefully they can learn from it because I don’t want people to make those same mistakes and I had some people along the way to help me with that also. There are times where I start to say, that’s not my job. I catch myself and realize that most of the time it actually is my job.
I’m going to ask you right now, the next time you try to tell yourself that it’s not your job, maybe it is. Maybe there’s something you can do to actually make the situation that you’re complaining about better.