Culture Change Includes the Family

I love that administrators are acting on the need for culture change. The public safety community as a whole faces backlash for the bad behavior of the few, but I can’t necessarily fault the citizenry for their pushback. When we recruit people into public service, we are looking for specific psychological skills. These skills are not necessarily meant to ensure mental health throughout the career, but are indicators that critical incidents will not immediately render the police officer, 911 professional, EMT, or firefighter immobile when they occur. But these same psychological skills are perishable, and we know it.

Our failure has been ignoring it.

When we hire, we need to acknowledge why and then we need to put the resources in place that will ensure that all perishable skills – not just driving fast and shooting straight – are continuously trained for. The aptitude it takes to respond effectively in a crisis must be enhanced with regular skills training. Such skills training is the essence of self-care. And self-care positively influences a thriving organizational culture. But it does not end when the workday does. Indeed, it requires the help and active engagement of the family unit.

After a long day or week filled with repetitive critical incidents, our loved ones provide a soft place to land. They want to help make our work easier. We all have boundaries, which is essential to separate what happens at work with what we share at home, but in truth we don’t leave trauma at the door. It goes where we go.

When our loved ones learn self-care and we strategize ways to integrate healthy capital-building tools into our daily routines together, it’s like building a wall around our family. Protecting our communities is a great purpose to fulfill, but protecting our families – our anchors – is the greatest calling of them all.

Include your families in the culture change process. Provide them with the Loved Ones’ version of Navigating Adversity so that they become partners in your organization’s success.

Dr. T

Leave a Comment