6 Vital Leadership Skills for PSAP Supervisors

Written by KOVA Corp

In the fast-paced, high-stress environment that is a public safety answering point, the leadership qualities of a supervisor are vital to the smooth functioning of the dispatcher team. The rest of the PSAP staff takes its cue from management, so it’s crucial that supervisors develop and fully utilize certain leadership skills in order for their PSAP to achieve high levels of performance.

There are 6 especially important leadership skills that every public safety answering point supervisor should incorporate into their management style.

1. Make an effort to notice trends

When supervisors are bogged down with paperwork and other requirements of the job, it can be difficult to take the time to simply observe how things are going in the PSAP. But such observation is vital to the prevention of problems. If a supervisor notices a trend among dispatchers – anything from arguments to sloppy work – while it’s still minor, it can be nipped in the bud before it becomes a major issue.

2. Forget the blame – just deal with the behavior

When things go wrong, it is tempting to play the blame game, whether we’re blaming people or circumstances. But that’s not productive, and it does nothing to solve the problem. It's important to figure out how the issue came up so that it can be avoided if it were to occur again. But trying to ascertain the cause of something and then only dealing with that part of the problem would be counterproductive. Make sure you don't single anyone out, and just deal with the behavior at hand. Talk to the whole team about it and maybe figure out a solution together so that if another problems occurs in the future, your team will deal with it together, instead of singling people out.

New Manager

3. Take decisive action

Sometimes it can be hard to know what to do when a problem crops up, especially if it does seem to be because of circumstances that simply can’t be changed. But it’s important to do something, even if you’re not positive it will help. Learn about the problem and try to make a diplomatic decision, where all sides are understood and dealt with equally. The mere fact that you are trying something, rather than doing nothing, will boost morale – and eventually, you might just find a way to fix the problem after all.

4. Value humans over technology

With all the emphasis placed on NG911 technology these days, as well as the normal technological training and upgrades required, it can be easy to devote more time, energy, and funds to technology than to the people who will be using it. But the people are the heart of any PSAP, and need just as much, if not more, attention and funds devoted to their human professional development. Make sure your employees know how important and appreciated they are. You could always reward them with small breaks or free breakfast on Fridays. Even the smallest gestures will instill a great amount of motivation.

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5. Lead by example

There’s nothing more inspiring to an employee than to see their supervisor walking the talk, doing exactly as they expect their employees to do. And there’s nothing more discouraging than seeing supervisors act as if they are above the law. If this means having to sit in their spot, doing what they do, then definitely do it. Lead by example, and dispatchers will be glad to follow. Be punctual to work, meetings and when meeting deadlines. Be courteous to all other workers and

6. Find out what motivates your dispatchers

Don’t try general motivation schemes without first ascertaining what exactly it is that motivates each of your dispatchers. In order to truly get them on board with your ideas, you’ll need to find a form of positive motivation that will be effective. Ask them what would work, and experiment till you find the right tools. Most of the time incentives work as great motivators. You can use them in a small competition to drive their work. You could also do team bonding competitions and encourage your team members to work together. Another idea could be to have an in-house retreat that has workshops geared towards team bonding, work improvement, and self motivation.

These 6 leadership qualities will give any public safety answering point supervisor the skills they need to effectively help their dispatchers improve performance - as well as morale. It is important that the team leader is humble, cooperative, and diplomatic so that the team members feel comfortable working with them or speaking to them about their own work issues. It is beneficial for the company  if each team can get along well together as a whole, which is why it is important that each team leader work hard to keep their team together.

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