The Managing EMS Officer

Managers often get a bad rap, but without them, where would we be?

Throughout history, managers have experienced a bad rap. They are often stereotyped as being concerned only about the bottom line, no matter the toll on the people involved. Clever names such as “meanagers” and others not appropriate for print are common when it comes to employees describing their managers. But without the manager, where would most organizations be?

Defining Management defines management as “The organization and coordination of the activities of an enterprise in accordance with certain policies and in achievement of defined objectives.”1

The managing officer is responsible for carrying out the executive’s goals and is granted the power to make decisions to fulfill this responsibility. This charge is significant. We often discuss and recognize the executive whose vision has transformed an organization; however, it is the manager who typically implements and helps deliver the results.

It is often said that we lead people and manage processes. An effective manager must do both very well. Managing EMS officers must have strong supervisory skills. As we discussed in the supervising EMS officer article last month, that person must have developed authority or influence to lead his team and have the ability to objectively evaluate performance. The managing EMS officer must have these same skills, but now appropriately apply them to entire functions, processes or systems across the organization.

The manager must work objectively across all shifts or work groups to deliver results department wide, carrying out the vision of the executive officer and leading the supervising officers to fulfill their objectives. Tasks can create conflict within the organization. Managers must display real leadership to successfully effect change.

Management Competencies

The competencies of the managing officer are often task- and process-oriented. However, to lump all the manager’s competencies into non-people activities is inappropriate.

One resource the NEMSMA leadership competencies project has incorporated is the Organization System’s International Polaris Competency Model Executive Card Set. After discussing EMS leadership competencies for two days with national EMS stakeholders, it was determined that EMS leadership is not necessarily unique compared to other Fortune 500 companies. The Polaris card set identifies 41 different leadership competencies.2 These competencies will be incorporated as one of the resources in the NEMSMA core competency document. The competencies are being evaluated and scored using Bloom’s taxonomy.

It was determined that supervising, managing and executive EMS officers must possess all the leadership skill sets, just to varying degrees of proficiency. The broad categories of the Polaris leadership competencies include:

• Communication (verbal and nonverbal);

• Conceptual (creativity and decision making);

• Contextual (industry knowledge and global skills);

• Interpersonal (diplomacy and assertiveness);

• Leadership (influence and strategic thinking);

• Management (delegation and organizing/planning); and

• Personal (drive, integrity and results orientation).

Management competencies are learned, just as clinical and supervisor skills are developed. Education and experience in process improvement, business processes and time management are critical. The manager must also embrace leadership development, change management and strategic thinking into the curriculum to master the role of the EMS managing officer. The managing and supervising officer competencies work together to better prepare the individual for the executive EMS officer role, the subject of the next article in this series.

The competent managing EMS officer must develop all the competencies of both management and leadership to fulfill the goals of the organization. Organizations must strive to develop their managers’ competencies, because without them, an organization cannot survive.

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