Communication as a Team

What?

As a volunteer firefighter being able to communicate with the rest of the team is essential. The entire organization must be able to work together as a team to accomplish the mission, extinguishing fires and saving lives. This cannot be accomplished without communication about the objectives, goals, and how to implement the plan. Due to the short time frame of the emergency situations, leadership is often a more direct, almost autocratic method. This fits because there is little time for deliberation and discussion among the team members. This does not mean that there is no input from other members of the team because the team leader relies on them to feed him or her information to make the necessary decision.

So What?

On an emergency scene there is little time for deliberation, so communication needs to have happened before. The team needs to have communicated beforehand about their abilities, needs and expectations. This knowledge and understanding of everybody’s skills and abilities allows them to be placed in the right roles. During the situation or emergency there also needs to be communication. The team leader needs to be updated on progress, potential dangers and new challenges as they unfold. The other team members also need to be kept informed about developments. All of these communications keeps the team working together efficiently and effectively. Lastly after the emergency is resolved there needs to be discussion about what went right and wrong. This allows the team to learn from what they did right and what they did wrong.

Now What?

These steps of communication are important for all teams though they may look different depending on the team purpose, goals and context. Daniel Levi goes in more depth about this in his book Group Dynamics for Teams chapter 6 (Pages 101-120) There is always a need to place people in the areas that are their strong points. To does this there must be communication before their assignment to know if that is an area of their strength. Communication must continue throughout the team process. This makes sure that all members have the necessary information that they need to operate. Without the necessary information the team will not be nearly as productive and efficient. Lastly their needs to be communication after the team exercise to discuss what was learned and what went poorly. Often this time can be spent looking at what went wrong, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but time should be spent looking at what went right so that it will be repeated next time. All teams need these three steps of communication to be effective and efficient.

Image One Credit: http://stopsellingvanillaicecream.com/to-be-understood-consider-others-communication-styles/

Image Two Credit: http://youngandthrifty.ca/4-strategies-for-effective-workplace-communication/

Levi, D., Group Dynamics for Teams 4th edition, Sage, print, 2014

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