For a number of managers, each year marks another anniversary of their tenure as the manager of their EMS agency. For most, each anniversary represents another year of working unchallenged in their management position. For others, it represents the continual erosion of the authority and influence associated with their position, a process that will continue until they find themselves being either eased out or jerked to a sudden halt in their careers.
To help control your destiny and leave the career you worked so hard to cultivate under your terms and not someone else’s, you need to pay attention to several areas.
Hang on to your enthusiasm. Even if your job as a manager becomes tedious, it is important to maintain your passion for the job and the people you work with. It is easy to, over time, lose as keen an interest as you had on the first day of the job. I’ve heard managers discuss their boredom with their management positions until one day they decide to leave or the organization decides they don’t serve any purpose and they are dismissed. Imagine what you would do if you lost your job as a manager or supervisor. How enthusiastic would you then be about getting up and going in to work? Hopefully your motivation is more than just wanting to have a job. It should be important to be a productive member of management.
Continue to learn. As the manager, you need to set an example for your employees by continuing to seek learning opportunities that will make you a better EMS provider. You need to be in the middle of as many training sessions as you can possibly attend. Make time to provide educational instruction to your staff to demonstrate your emphasis on continued learning. Don’t just rely on your employees to be the ones to bring up new ideas or suggest ways to better serve the community based on their learning experiences. Let them see your commitment to constant learning and demonstrate the positive results that come from your efforts.
Establish your ethical compass. Honor and integrity are often overlooked as required attributes of a successful manager. Throughout your career, your authority will be tested on a regular basis. Whether you base your decisions on personal or organizational criteria will determine your credibility with your employees and in many ways affect your longevity as an EMS manager.
Remain politically connected with your agency. There is a common saying that remains true today: All politics are local. Your success in your agency may partially be the result of your political connections or your ability to get along with the elected officials. Whether you are good friends with the politicians or can’t stand to be around them, you need to demonstrate your professionalism by supporting the organization publicly and voicing your disagreements in private. Use caution when discussing politics or politicians with employees or other supervisors. Never say or write anything you don’t want to have to explain later.
Stay progressive. This is an absolute requirement for any manager or supervisor of an EMS system. Your employees are anxious and eager to do and learn more each day. You need to be one step, or more, ahead of their needs every day you come to work. This is one of the main parts of the proactive interference consideration.
Engage in new roles or activities within your organization. Often the most flexible manager is the one best suited to a changing organization. EMS agencies can expect an increase in demand for their services in the next several decades. As medicine continuously changes, the roles of EMS providers are also changing over time. Is your organization able to adapt to the changing roles and able to meet future needs?
Establish that you care. Actions speak louder than words and your daily actions should always demonstrate to your employees, peers, and the community that your major focus and efforts are centered on the well being of each of those groups. It is not enough to say you care you need to show everyone through your actions and words.
Plan for the future. Planning needs to be done on two levels: organizational and personal. Peter Drucker is quoted as saying, The best way to predict the future is to plan for it. As the EMS manager, you should take an active role in the planning for the future of the organization. Develop benchmarks to help measure your progress and make changes to the plan to stay on course.
Have you developed a plan for your personal future? Will you be required to retire at a certain age, or will you determine when you want to stop working full-time? It is better to have taken a long-distance look at these options rather than wait or be surprised by them.
Your approach to your career as an EMS manager or supervisor should reflect your duty to conduct yourself in a professional manner every day you work for your EMS agency. While you can’t control every situation that impacts your career, you can take a proactive approach to make your career more satisfying and productive.