Where Do You Add Value?
No one wants to admit that we are not always the best at what we do. Who among us is willing to admit that they don’t know everything? When you interviewed for your current job, I am sure that you did not spout off a list of things you do poorly. If you were to be honest, you probably told the interviewer that you could do things that you had never even done before, just to get through the interview, and move on to the next step. In my experience, the instances of this are even higher in the first responder fields. We are expected to know the answer. We are called on to make split second decisions and they must be the right ones, otherwise someone could get hurt or even die. We feel that it is imperative that we know it all, or at least act like it.
What do you really do well? This might be a scary thought. It requires that you employ a little self-awareness. The bitter reality is that you are not an expert in everything. You must know what you are good at and decide to focus there. In addition, you must accept that the answer to this question might mean a new position or possibly a totally new job that fits the value-added you bring. What if I were to tell you that you are not a good supervisor. While this might sting at first, once accepted, you can be a much better line worker. In my years in emergency services, I have worked for many unqualified and inept supervisors that thought they were hitting home-runs every time they made decisions. In reality, they made everyone else’s job harder and the jobs in which they excelled, were being filled by less qualified individuals.
As an emergency services consultant, I decided a long time ago to focus on what I know. I would be a pretty terrible consultant if people were coming to me for answers and I could not give them any guidance. A friend of mine asked me a few years ago why I don’t work more with hospitals and healthcare facilities. It’s a growing field so my friends’ question was valid. I was quick to tell him that while I did some work in this field, it was an area I was unfamiliar with and while I am sure I could get all the paperwork filed correctly, when it came time to do something, it would be clear that I was out of my wheelhouse.
You need to find out where you add value. It may be as the director or supervisor, but it might also be as a patrol officer, a planning officer in some emergency management office or even a basic firefighter. This value has nothing to do with your rank or the amount of qualities you hold, but the types of qualities you hold. I promise you that you can add genuine value to your organization. It just takes a small dose of humility and some self-realization.