Monday and Tuesday I spent in field training officer/preceptor classroom training. We all thought the meetings were going to be about going over the nuts and bolts of the job, but it was instead more of a focus on safety issues and adult learning.
I hate meetings, particularly mandated day long meetings that cover material required to be taught by either some law or policy. During Hurricane Katrina, some of us were sent down to Mississippi. Because we were a private company, our employees were “on the ground” and helping almost immediately. I later heard stories of fire departments that went down as part of the federal effort and were required to spend days in classrooms getting sexual harassment and other training before they could start. Which doesn’t mean, our company doesn’t subject its employees to long meetings. To comply with our national training officer standard we had to sit through these two days or we would no longer be able to train other people. We got paid for it, but still it was painful.
The first day was about safety and we had to watch these homemade films about accidents and poor management styles. It either starred employee volunteers or some pretty bad actors playing employees. At one point I said the problem was no longer the employee it was the company’s for not firing the one guy who in nearly every scene was doing something stupid.
While the teacher was a good guy and there is no denying the need to emphasize safety, keeping 30 EMTs and medics in a class for eight hours is a hard task. We are all let’s get out there and do it types. Me, I can’t sit for more than an hour or two without going nuts. I was trying not to be rude, while surreptitiously doing the crossword puzzle in the daily paper. I needed to keep my mind busy.
The 2nd day focused on adult learning. The teacher was pretty good, but still it was a long day. The one cool part was we got to take a variety of personality tests, including the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator and a left-brain, right-brain test. On the Myers-Briggs test, I came out an INFJ, which means I would be a good writer/editor or a nurse, which I will take to count as a paramedic also. On the right brain left brain I was 2/3 right-brain to 1/3 left brain. On the control test, I came out believing strongly in my own skills as opposed to luck or fate. On a management test I did really well except in one category about the setting of goals or standards for employees, where I came out worse than entry level managers. I went back and looked at the scoring and saw where I lost points. Here’s the one question where I lost major points.
“New supervisors may think they are going to make a big hit by holding their personnel to high standards, but they soon learn that doing so does not work.”
I wrote “strongly agree” when the more correct answer was “strongly disagree.”
Maybe I misread the question. What I was reacting to was the tendency of new supervisors to come in and say I expect the best blah blah blah. They believe that giving a talk and setting a standard is like the magic wand and the expression “Make it be so.” Life doesn’t work like that. Getting things done involves truly managing the resources you have and the situations. Hard working laborers with no skills can’t build the Taj Mahal out of sticks, not to mention the government bureaucrat who won’t give you the permits to build. You need to use coaxing, political persuasion, creative thinking, training, everything in your bag of tricks to gradually build the resources you need to get the job done. I most admire the managers who everyone likes, even if they disagree with them because those managers listen and make you feel important and see you as a person. They are the managers you will do anything for. Of course those managers also need the vision to see the big picture.
Supervising isn’t ordering, it truly is managing. It’s the vision to see the big picture, and then putting pieces of a puzzle together while anticipating problems.
Anyway, enough of that. The tests, for whatever they are worth made me feel I am truly in the right field, and that this is my place.
The field, not the class.