While every organization relies on teamwork to achieve their goals, for volunteer organizations it is an imperative more than it is for paid services. Incentives that exist in paid services, such as a paycheck, often serve to help grease the wheels of the team. Volunteer organizations don’t have the luxury of such incentives and rely on the passion of their members to be the fuel to the organizations engine.
Compromise is a necessary element of teamwork. I don’t think there is anyone who will disagree with that statement. While volunteer agencies rely on the passion of their members to fuel the engine, it is that same sort of passion that can often become a roadblock when decisions need to be made. Decisions are ultimately products of a conversation that takes place in the agency in order to fulfill its mission. Everyone has something to contribute to the conversation.
There is however a limit to compromise. Someone who states they “do not care” what the membership body has to say is someone who does not believe in teamwork. Someone who would prefer to bully others into doing what they want citing parliamentary minutia and amoral policies or regulations as opposed to what the group thinks is morally right does not have an understanding of what the term “patient care” truly means. Someone who is failing to listen to the discussion and is more interested in having things done “their way or no way” is not a compromising individual. These types of people are poisonous to a volunteer agency whether they wish to acknowledge it or not. These types of people will take advantage of your willingness to compromise for the greater good to serve themselves and will wear that willingness down until you have reached your limit and a compromise will no longer be found.
Sadly, I deal with such a person at my volunteer agency. What’s worse is that I think I have reached my limit when it comes to compromise. It has been a long and arduous road to this point that I have now reached but I trust myself enough to place the needs of our patients and our mission first to guide me in my decisions. They just will not necessarily be as easily reached as they once were.
We need passionate people to be able to really effect the kind of culture change we want to see in EMS as in industry and to be able to fulfill the mission of our volunteer agencies. We don’t need people who will fail to respect that passion and take advantage of our willingness to compromise. Those are the people who will ensure our failure.