When I think of morale I can’t help but compare it to attitude. We usually think of morale as a group kind of thing, but attitude we think of as an individual thing. We are all in control of our attitude, and if morale is a group attitude, why do we always blame someone else for our bad morale?
If you are a firefighter you tend to blame the administration and say morale comes from the top down. If you are an administrator you pass the buck by saying morale comes from the bottom up. We control our own attitude and morale, quit passing the blame.
At the start of shift one day we were all gathered near the engine (since we weren’t allowed to sit at the coffee table for another 45 minutes) and one of the guys asked what kind of mood the boss was in for the day. While we were all trying to figure out how to deal with his nastiness for another 24 hours, we came to the realization that we were not responsible for his attitude or mood, whether it be good or bad for the day.
That kind of became our motto for the next couple years until he finally left to spread his misery somewhere else. We had figured out that we could control our own morale in regards to that one person. Unfortunately there were a lot of other things we still let control our morale.
Here are a few tips to control your own morale.
1. Determine your own value.
One thing that can really drag you down is when you let some Chief’s points or other evaluation tool measure your worth against the rest of the people you work with. I have seen some guys wear their Chief’s points like they really meant something. Whether you got a lot of points, or you were the dog on the bottom that everyone laughed at, those points don’t really make you who you are. When you let someone else determine your value you give them too much power.
2. Don’t let others drag you down.
Every department has that small group of guys that are never happy. You know them, if you get a pay raise it’s not any good, the new insurance stinks, and that new engine is a piece of junk. When was the last time that guy said anything positive? Since we live together we can’t really get away from this guy, but you can make an effort to keep them from polluting your mind with their garbage.
3. They never said it would be fair.
It is very frustrating when things aren’t fair. Nobody likes a bad call in a football game, and we definitely don’t like to have a bad call against us at work. Unfortunately, we don’t have instant replay in the fire station and we have to live with those unfair situations. We can get involved and try to make sure everyone is treated fairly, but that can be extremely frustrating when you get treated unfairly because you are sticking up for someone else. It’s not gonna be fair, just make sure you treat people fairly.
Stop complaining about the morale at your department and do something to help your own. Don’t point to the top, the bottom or the other guy. Your morale is your choice, make a good one.