As a public safety telecommunications operator, it often feels the only time you are recognized is when you mess up. When you do something wrong (or even if it is only perceived as wrong), it seems everyone knows about it and everyone is talking about it. When you do your job well, often it goes unrecognized. Just a day in the life of a good dispatcher who cares about doing his or her job well. It shouldn’t be like this. Recognition of doing our jobs well should be carried across the dispatch floor as loudly and quickly as the negative. We can help with this by repeating praise if we hear it. If someone compliments another operator, let them and their supervisor know.
The Little Things
Being recognized means you make a difference and often in our line of work there are times that we just don’t feel like we did. Every call that came over 9-1-1 was the same old thing. All I could do was sit there, ask questions and hope the officers arrived on time. I could handle my radio to the best of my ability and sometimes it just erupted into chaos. I would just keep slapping band-aides on all the problems and hope nobody bled to death. Sometimes it just felt like all the hours of shift work I put in and all the family time I gave up just wasn’t worth it. It didn’t matter. Then, I would get a call from an officer who would say thanks for helping me with this or my supervisor, or better yet, a co-worker would stop by the console and tell me, “Good job.” That was all it took to make me keep sloshing through the calls and the dispatches.
Write it Out; Shout it Out
Although giving verbal praise is important and adds to job satisfaction (and motivation), putting it in writing takes it a step further. Like the letter I received, it is something tangible. Something that goes into your employee file. You can put it in a scrap book or tack it on your I Love Me wall. Research shows that when we hear something we like our brains send out a burst of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of joy, pride, satisfaction and well-being. Just think about how much feel good juice the recognition you wrote will produce over the years (especially if they are still looking at it and smiling over a decade later).
Feeling appreciated is an important aspect in the work environment especially when you work in a stressful one like public safety communications. Supervisors and supervisees can increase the praise by recognizing the hard work so many dispatcher/9-1-1 operators put in every day. Congress gave us a week of praise. Let’s recognize each other 365 days a year. Look for ways to recognize your co-workers, supervisors and supervisees, as well as, those out in the field. Together we can spread the appreciation.