So, you’ve started your quality assurance program. You’ve been listening to calls and radio traffic, and you’ve discovered some things you probably already knew about your 9-1-1 center. But what will you discover that you didn’t know?
What did you already know?
The QA process confirmed some things you already knew from running your monthly reports, things that you would have expected to learn. Whether you’re following APCO/NENA standards, NFPA standards, or your own department’s standards, you found out if your center is meeting those standards or not. You also found out that your employees are answering calls in a timely manner. You found out that the correct greeting is being used, whether that’s, ”911, what is your emergency?”, ”911, what’s the address of your emergency?”, or “911, what’s the location of your emergency?”. You found out protocols are being handled correctly, whether you are using PowerPhone, APCO, Priority Dispatch, or another protocol system.
You have great people!
But what else will you learn? You will learn that you have some incredible employees! We all know we have them. They are those people you say hi to, and then move on to other employees because they need your help or attention. You found that you have employees with compassion, common sense, and internal motivators.
You’ve heard the saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, and we are all guilty of handling our employees the same way. We ignore the ones who do a good job, so we can focus on the ones not doing such a good job. When doing QA, you are reminded that you are focusing most of your attention on your weak links.
Some people have compassion for those they are helping, those they work with, and those they protect. Think back to when you interviewed applicants for the job. Almost every single person told you they wanted the job because they wanted to help people. By doing QA, you will find out which ones actually meant it. It’s obvious in every aspect of what they do and how they handle the calls.
…with common sense
Common sense is not a weed that grows in everyone’s garden, and by doing QA you will learn which of your employees have the common sense and ability to reason through problems and rise above the difficult situations.
…with internal motivators
You will also learn that you have employees with internal motivators. These are the employees who keep going, keep giving their all, even when things are at their worst. When you have a bad day in Communications, it’s hard to stay at the top of your game, especially when the public, and your responders, are being incredibly difficult to deal with. But you will find that those with internal motivators will continue to do their best because it’s what they expect of themselves.
How did that person get hired?
Another thing you will learn is that you have some employees who just don’t belong in the field of public safety. They are an accident waiting to happen, common sense is nonexistent, you have phantom policies, and some work very hard not to work.
As stated earlier, common sense isn’t at all common. When doing QA, you will see very definite differences between those who can reason through a problem, and those who couldn’t reason their way out of a paper bag.
That’s a policy?
You will hear policies quoted by employees that you’ve never even heard yourself, and you’ll wonder where on earth that came from. Repeat to yourself: remedial training can fix this.
Did that just happen?
You will hear an employee spend fifteen minutes on the phone, telling a caller why they don’t need to send an officer out, rather than spending the 30-45 seconds to enter a call. This shouldn’t happen, and it’s your job to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
The ancient scrolls known as the Policy Manual
One thing you might learn is that your policy manual was possibly written in 20 BC. The pages are yellowed with age. You have policies for procedures you know longer follow, policies for equipment you no longer own, and your employees are following policies you don’t have written down. Although all of this should be taken care of before you begin doing QA, this is your opportunity to take care of the policies that slipped through the cracks.
Follow-through: Let them eat cheesecake!
You will also learn that follow-through is vital in everything. Corrective action is the tool that will get you where you need to be in your procedures and in meeting the goals you’ve set. Doing QA, without doing the follow-through, is like eating a meal at Cheesecake Factory without getting cheesecake. It’s simply not done! It’s not right! The follow-through is what assures that the weak links and the lazy employees get the feedback they need to improve, and the incredible employees get the recognition they deserve.
Don’t get caught by surprise
Doing regular QA will keep you from being hit with these little surprises and keep you in tune with your best employees’ performance. Commercial Electronics is a resource for you, whether you need help developing your QA program, or if you want to outsource it. Learn more about our CEQIP Program here.