One of the most important skills an officer in the fire service can have is the ability to delegate. Once you have achieved your firefighter promotion with a new rank and likely new crew, don’t forget the importance of delegating; it is not just to make your life easier.
The first reason to pop into people's minds when they think about delegating job duties is less work for them. Having less work with the goal of avoiding becoming burnt out is a crucial reason to delegate. Especially as you get started in a new rank and position in the fire service. You will get a lot of new duties all at once and it can be quite overwhelming. As you should master all of these skills and tasks yourself, do not be afraid to delegate as is appropriate to avoid burning out before you even get the hang of your new position. As a manager/leader/high ranking officer it is your job to distribute the workload.
Builds Trust Between You & Your Crew
An even more important reason to delegate tasks to your subordinates as a new ranking officer is to help build a trusting relationship. Giving your crew members jobs that are seen as important, shows them that you trust them to accomplish something that may be new to them or a challenge or even something that has your name on it. Once they accomplish it, it may show you that they can be trusted with more challenging work and a trusting relationship is built. It is also possible you will learn that some people cannot be trusted with certain assignments or just aren’t capable. Now be sure to see the line when it comes to delegating, some may see too much extra work on them as you being lazy and them doing all of your work for you. You need to find the balance between letting your crew learn new skills through assigning them various extra tasks and them doing all of your work for you and burning them out from the extra workload.
Learning Opportunity For Everyone
To go along with building trust, delegating creates a learning opportunity for both the officer and the crew members. Delegating new tasks and assignments to your crew members is a great opportunity for them to learn skills they otherwise would not have had the opportunity to learn otherwise. Allowing them to do things that are outside of their black and white job description will help them grow on the job, which will only benefit you in the long run as you will have a more capable team on duty with you. In addition, this will also give you an opportunity to learn about your crew. Once promoted you may be assigned to work with strangers that you have not yet seen in action. Delegating will allow you to learn what every member of your crew is truly capable of, outside of their basic job duties, by challenging them with new responsibilities. Along with skills, you will learn the attitudes of your crew members. Some will jump at every opportunity to do extra work and learn while others may not be as responsive to it. You will learn their strengths, weaknesses, and mindsets all while they are learning and improving on their own skills.
Delegating tasks and responsibilities is the mark of a good leader, if done properly. It allows you to build trust with your new subordinates all while they get to learn new skills and you get to learn about them. It is a win-win as long as you don’t take advantage of the situation and put too much work on your crew and instead use it to support them.