A few years back I was assigned to a platoon of EMTs and paramedics that for lack of a better term were mentally abused by their previous supervisor. My first day with these employees I had noticed that they were very dejected, their morale was low, and they all had a sense of worthlessness; adding fuel to this dilemma was the fact that they were not allowed to think for themselves or make decisions on their own. This further became evident when the general phone line began ringing and nobody would lift a finger to answer the phone. I inquired as to why they would not answer, and was advised that they were not permitted to do so by their previous supervisor.
I realized I had serious work to do in rebuilding these people back up and I immediately called a platoon meeting to create active dialogue between me and them (Johnson, 2014, slide 3). In an effort to build inclusiveness (Kouzes & Posner, 2008, p. 99), one of initial things I did during this meeting was made us a team (Ford, 1991, location 1953), and communicated that we would make decisions regarding our daily operations as a team and remain accountable to one another; as their supervisor I would have the ultimate say, but I expressed to them that their opinions and ideas would matter in many of my final decisions. I also advised them that I was not an expert at everything and that they should not be surprised if I came to them and asked for their knowledge.
With this initial barrier knocked down we began to communicate, so much so that the meeting lasted nearly two hours. It was well worth my time as this allowed them to get many things off their chest, and during those two hours; I did more listening than actually did talking. When I did speak I assured them that I would never mistreat them or make them feel inferior all the while driving home the point that even though I possessed a title, I considered myself one their equals. To demonstrate my commitment to equality, after the meeting concluded, we began working on many of the daily station duties together and continued this practice on a daily basis for the year I was assigned to them. I wanted to make sure they knew I was right there with them (Kouzes & Posner, 2008, p. 134) by their side.
As the weeks went by, I further discovered that the two female crewmembers were highly skilled in vehicle rescue; however they were not permitted to drive or operate the rescue vehicle, although I could not prove discrimination occurred against these two female employees, I was highly suspicious that it did. I then proceeded to advise the two female crewmembers that their gender would not be a barrier to operating the rescue vehicle and participating in live rescues.
To further empower these ladies to use their skills (Kouzes & Posner, 2008, p. 110) the very next day we began training that would permit them to become certified in operating the rescue vehicle; to take things a step further, I delegated this responsibility out to,...