Heidi DiGennaro

Heidi DiGennaro

Surviving the Headset

How do you know you’re doing a good job? In some sectors, if you’re getting paid, you’re doing a good job. Your check is your feedback. Our industry is notorious for negative feedback, media sound bites, and headlines blasting when someone either makes a mistake or has bad behavior. The sensationalism is raised because the stakes for our job are higher. There are multiple customer service fails in every industry daily and not all of them make the news, nor does the positive work we do.

What about the long stretch of calls an employee handled perfectly prior to a mistake? Did anyone take a moment to say, “Good job!” about those calls? Or did you consider it the person “doing their job”? The mentality of not giving recognition is detrimental. Consider cause and effect. 

Cause A good-to-great employee does excellent work, they’ve never received a complaint, they’re a good teammate, and they care about their job. Five years goes by with no recognition and this employee feels unappreciated and taken for granted—that what they do doesn’t matter to anyone else—and their attitude starts to shift. The longer the lack of recognition continues, the worse their attitude becomes.

Effect Poor employee morale, grumbling, complaining, and the spreading of negativity. Or perhaps this employee finds another job somewhere else where they feel they will be appreciated more. You’ve lost a good employee, in some cases a friend, and now have a staffing shortage.  

Back that scenario up to the employee receiving recognition and positive feedback throughout their employment. They handled a nasty call to the best of their ability and did a good job. Take a moment to say something to them and put something positive in their file. Appreciate their hard work. Does your agency have an employee of the month? Nominate someone. Not sure who to nominate? Co-workers can nominate co-workers; it doesn’t have to be a supervisory function. 

Look around. There are always superstar emergency dispatchers who do amazing things and should be recognized. Recognize them. There’s another group, too. If you look beyond the superstars, there are people who make up your agency’s backbone. They come to work, do their job well, don’t cause problems, usually work overtime, are great team players, cover leave requests, and think nothing of volunteering to do projects or busywork. These unsung heroes receive the least recognition and least attention because they’re not creating problems. The expectation that they are good emergency dispatchers has caused them to be taken for granted. 

I’ve nominated these unsung heroes for awards, and if I receive the pleasure of telling them they won an award, they don’t believe me. They don’t think they deserve it because they don’t value themselves the way they should. Getting them recognition gives them a sense of pride, a sense of value, a sense of I matter. They do matter and should know they matter.

How do you recognize others? Several agencies use software that allows you to send recognition. Use the software to send a thank you to someone. I sent someone in another department a thank you for his hard work on a technical problem; he later admitted it was the only positive feedback he had gotten in two years. How would you feel if it was you?

Send an e-mail to the person’s supervisor and request it be attached to their personnel file. Write a formal memorandum recognizing the hard work if you don’t have a form. Create a positive form. Use Post-it notes on a shout-out board. If recognizing a group for a teamwork instance, highlight each person’s individual contribution. Group recognitions are great, and the individual’s work matters. Even if the individual was involved in a supportive role, highlight how they were supportive.

Recognition matters to your health, your job satisfaction, and potential raises. Recognition tells someone they matter. Take the time to make someone’s day.