Fire Officer employee counseling is one of the most difficult aspects of the position once you promote within the fire service. The higher the position, the more challenging the scenarios will be. The fire officer employee counseling portion of the promotional exam will determine which candidates have developed the necessary skills to manage difficult employees. These skills can be learned and developed.
1. Know your agency’s policies and procedures
2. Know your agency’s progressive disciplinary system
3. Know how to conduct an employee counseling session
4. Do more listening that talking
5. Be familiar with the firefighter’s rights
You must know your agency’s policies and procedures There is no substitution for knowing the policies and procedures. The only way to become familiar with these is get into the books and study. You will be amazed at how clearly written the policies are and how easy it is to identify the violations presented in your exam. Without a thorough understanding of the policies, managing personnel issues will be a constant struggle.
You must know your agency’s progressive disciplinary system – During the fire officer employee counseling portion of the exam, you will be presented with a scenario or scenarios where a member has strayed outside of the policies and procedures. You will be expected to display a thorough understanding of each step of your agency’s progressive disciplinary system. You must be able to recite each step and explain the documentation that goes with each one. A role player in your exam will certainly challenge your knowledge of the progressive disciplinary system.
You must know how to conduct an employee counseling session – We recommend using the 8-step process during the fire officer employee counseling portion of your exam. We will teach it to you here at Aspiring Fire Officers. It will give you a step by step process to help you navigate through a contentious meeting with a difficult employee. Without a process, you are likely to struggle and easily get off-track. With a systematic approach you will find conducting employee counseling meetings is very manageable.
You must do more listening that talking – One of the biggest complaints a firefighter has with the disciplinary system is that he or she believes that they did not get a chance to tell their side of the story. It is important to be an active listener and to do more listening than talking.
Once the firefighter has had an opportunity to tell their side of the story, it is important for the officer to repeat what the firefighter said. This ensures that the firefighter has been heard as well as ensuring that the officer has the correct information.
You must be familiar with the firefighter’s rights when it comes to the disciplinary process. Depending on the severity of the infraction and your individual states’ rights, the firefighter may be entitled to union or association representation. Failure to allow representation, when entitled, may be grounds for dismissal of all charges. If the firefighter’s rights are knowingly violated, the department may be fined. An aspiring fire officer should be very familiar with and not violate a firefighter’s right to representation. You can be assured that this will be tested during your exam.
The best way to prepare for the fire officer employee counseling portion of the promotional exam is to review disciplinary scenarios, identify policy violations and determine how you would have managed them. Speak to officers within your organization and ask them to review personnel scenarios with you, leaving the names of the firefighter out to protect the integrity of the disciplinary process. Ask them what they learned from managing the situation and how they would have handled it differently if faced with a similar situation.
Best of luck to you. Find more information at AspiringFireOfficers.com