What drives you?

NomadicMedic

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I had a long conversation yesterday with an EMT that works for my service. He’s a really good guy. Mature, with a lot of life experience. He’s been dissatisfied with the job for the past month or so, and has been pretty vocal about the fact that he wants to quit or move on.

We sat down yesterday and started to hash it out. I asked him to think about what made him happy. What was the real reason that he did what he did. He immediately answered, “the money“.

After we talked for a while, he realized that it wasn’t the money. It turns out that he’s a high touch kind of guy. Needs appreciation and reassurance. He needs to know that what he is doing is valid and important. He also needs to feel as though he is contributing. Wants to be involved in projects.

The biggest issue was, he didn’t know how to explain any of that. All he had was an overall feeling of disenchantment. He knew that what he was doing wasn’t making him happy and he didn’t know how to fix it. He focused on the money, because that seemed to be the easiest thing to change. We talked about what would happen if he went to work for another service. Yes, he might make a little bit more money, but at the end of the day, when the new car smell wore off… He would still be disenfranchised with the overall business of the business.

He asked me what it was that motivated me. And I answered without hesitation. The real motivation for me is to see new employees and students performing at an exceptional level. When I see people that I trained working as EMTs, it makes my whole experience worthwhile. My second driving force is systems. I’m an organized, operational minded guy. I like specific framework-based operational systems. And that’s something that I am lucky that I can contribute to my current place of employment. Helping to develop standard policies procedures and guidelines is something that I’m interested in, and when it makes work safer or faster, I feel validated.

After that conversation, which ended really well, I thought about it a lot.

I thought about ways to find opportunity for the people on my team to feel valued, worthwhile, and appreciated. I’m planning to work on that moving forward. it’s not an overnight fix, but it’s certainly something worthwhile and needs to be at the top of my priority list. As my role in the organization changes, I believe it’ll be one of the largest items of focus as a pertains to retention.

And now I’m curious. What drives you? Think deeper than the stock answer, “to help people”. The real reason is usually much deeper than that. If you just wanted to help people, you could be a dog walker, deliver meals on wheels, or be a patient care Tech in a nursing home. There’s a lot more to the reason why we do this job. And I would really like to know your reasons.

This may help me to find new ways to engage and retain our strong workers who deserve to feel validated and appreciated at the end of the day.
 

mgr22

Forum Deputy Chief
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This is kind of an offshoot of helping people, but I want to feel whatever I'm doing is contributing something to someone besides the stockholders or the boss. EMS usually scratches that itch for me. Also, I enjoy the challenge of assessing ambiguous presentations. I'd take a medical case over trauma any day. And I want to be tested with as much responsibility as I can handle. Finally, I like seeing how science works in the real world.
 

CCCSD

Forum Asst. Chief
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Looking cool wearing shades on calls with my stethoscope around my neck, unzipped boots and untucked shirt, wearing tactical pants, with at least three TQs on my belt. That’s what drives me.
 

CANMAN

Forum Asst. Chief
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I had a long conversation yesterday with an EMT that works for my service. He’s a really good guy. Mature, with a lot of life experience. He’s been dissatisfied with the job for the past month or so, and has been pretty vocal about the fact that he wants to quit or move on.

We sat down yesterday and started to hash it out. I asked him to think about what made him happy. What was the real reason that he did what he did. He immediately answered, “the money“.

After we talked for a while, he realized that it wasn’t the money. It turns out that he’s a high touch kind of guy. Needs appreciation and reassurance. He needs to know that what he is doing is valid and important. He also needs to feel as though he is contributing. Wants to be involved in projects.

The biggest issue was, he didn’t know how to explain any of that. All he had was an overall feeling of disenchantment. He knew that what he was doing wasn’t making him happy and he didn’t know how to fix it. He focused on the money, because that seemed to be the easiest thing to change. We talked about what would happen if he went to work for another service. Yes, he might make a little bit more money, but at the end of the day, when the new car smell wore off… He would still be disenfranchised with the overall business of the business.

He asked me what it was that motivated me. And I answered without hesitation. The real motivation for me is to see new employees and students performing at an exceptional level. When I see people that I trained working as EMTs, it makes my whole experience worthwhile. My second driving force is systems. I’m an organized, operational minded guy. I like specific framework-based operational systems. And that’s something that I am lucky that I can contribute to my current place of employment. Helping to develop standard policies procedures and guidelines is something that I’m interested in, and when it makes work safer or faster, I feel validated.

After that conversation, which ended really well, I thought about it a lot.

I thought about ways to find opportunity for the people on my team to feel valued, worthwhile, and appreciated. I’m planning to work on that moving forward. it’s not an overnight fix, but it’s certainly something worthwhile and needs to be at the top of my priority list. As my role in the organization changes, I believe it’ll be one of the largest items of focus as a pertains to retention.

And now I’m curious. What drives you? Think deeper than the stock answer, “to help people”. The real reason is usually much deeper than that. If you just wanted to help people, you could be a dog walker, deliver meals on wheels, or be a patient care Tech in a nursing home. There’s a lot more to the reason why we do this job. And I would really like to know your reasons.

This may help me to find new ways to engage and retain our strong workers who deserve to feel validated and appreciated at the end of the day.

The fact you even spent time with him and had this level of a talk most likely meant alot to him. You sound like a great supervisor. Kudos.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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What motivates me to come into work every day? money. if you take that away, my desire to come into work evaporates.

Now, I enjoy my job. I appreciate my supervisors and my management. but if they stopped paying me, would I keep doing it? no. if they cut my salary, would I look for a new job? yes. if they gave me more money, would I be happier? yes. But that doesn't mean the solution to an unhappy person is to simply throw more money at them.

now, if you want to talk about intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors, we can do that too. Would I be happier at my job if there were changes? if I could do more? if there was less red tape, less old school thinking, and more clearly defined processes? if there was more chances for promotion, and an end to the good ol' boy promotion system, where people who are there longest get promoted, regardless of if they are able to do the job? absolutely.

But at the end of the day, what causes me to keep showing up to work every day? having that direct deposit making it to my bank account every 2 weeks. Take that away, and all the other things are irrelevant.
 
OP
NomadicMedic

NomadicMedic

EMS Edumacator
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What motivates me to come into work every day? money. if you take that away, my desire to come into work evaporates.

Now, I enjoy my job. I appreciate my supervisors and my management. but if they stopped paying me, would I keep doing it? no. if they cut my salary, would I look for a new job? yes. if they gave me more money, would I be happier? yes. But that doesn't mean the solution to an unhappy person is to simply throw more money at them.

now, if you want to talk about intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors, we can do that too. Would I be happier at my job if there were changes? if I could do more? if there was less red tape, less old school thinking, and more clearly defined processes? if there was more chances for promotion, and an end to the good ol' boy promotion system, where people who are there longest get promoted, regardless of if they are able to do the job? absolutely.

But at the end of the day, what causes me to keep showing up to work every day? having that direct deposit making it to my bank account every 2 weeks. Take that away, and all the other things are irrelevant.

Money is always the superficial answer. I know your background, and I know you’re probably well compensated for what you do. But for an EMT, who’s making crummy money, and could make more working at the supermarket deli, there’s usually more to it. For most people, there’s a motivator that goes beyond money and keeps them coming back. And I’m not talking about the what if’s. We all wish for less red tape and favoritism and all the rest of the unpleasantness... I’m talking about being honest, doing a little soul searching, and discovering what element of what you do is the one that provides satisfaction?

For some, it’s the technical skills. For others, it’s the connection with patients. For others its seeing a project completed and functioning. Everyone has a reason for doing, and if you practice a little self awareness, you might be surprised when you discover your elemental driver.
 
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NomadicMedic

NomadicMedic

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The fact you even spent time with him and had this level of a talk most likely meant alot to him. You sound like a great supervisor. Kudos.

I honestly don’t want to lose this guy. He’s a staff motivator and a natural leader. People gravitate to him, and what he says carries influence. People like that are important to help shape culture, if they stay engaged. If you lose these folks, or they become disengaged, it can change the texture of the operation.
 
OP
NomadicMedic

NomadicMedic

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Looking cool wearing shades on calls with my stethoscope around my neck, unzipped boots and untucked shirt, wearing tactical pants, with at least three TQs on my belt. That’s what drives me.

fashionista. Got it.
savage.
classy, bougie, ratchet.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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I know your background, and I know you’re probably well compensated for what you do. But for an EMT, who’s making crummy money, and could make more working at the supermarket deli, there’s usually more to it.
cool, so you know that before I got this job, I spent 10 years working full time in EMS right? I was on a truck, answering 911 calls, doing the occasional IFT, and spending time in the comm center. I've done the 60 hr weeks, tons of OT, working at multiple jobs, going from one 12 hour shift to the next 12-hour shift at my other job. It gets old, which is why many of our best and brightest move on to bigger and better positions in public safety, or healthcare, or change careers. and I will also say I enjoyed not having a boss who micromanaged me, being able to sit in a truck in a park on a gorgeous day and not be bothered, and having the ability to say that I had a positive impact on the lives of some of my patients. Please don't think that because I did decide to get out of EMS as my full time profession, that I have forgotten what it's like to run 911 calls in the projects, get paid poorly for little recognition, and had to work in ****ty conditions for piss poor management.
For most people, there’s a motivator that goes beyond money and keeps them coming back. And I’m not talking about the what if’s. We all wish for less red tape and favoritism and all the rest of the unpleasantness... I’m talking about being honest, doing a little soul searching, and discovering what element of what you do is the one that provides satisfaction?

For some, it’s the technical skills. For others, it’s the connection with patients. For others its seeing a project completed and functioning. Everyone has a reason for doing, and if you practice a little self awareness, you might be surprised when you discover your elemental driver.
Ahh, so you are talking about the motivators. A better question might be "what keeps you in EMS?" or "what is preventing you from quitting this job tomorrow going to work for another EMS agency?

As for me, I'm very self-aware. What keeps me at my job is money. this financial incentive allows me to pursue my other passions, keep a roof over my head, and feed my family. Do I love the independence, the ability to have an impact on the entire organization, and the fact that the CEO knows both my name and my son's name, in a company of 6000 people? absolutely. But EMS, historically, has allowed managers (or the bean counters that allocate funds to EMS agencies) to make excuses as to why they can't pay people more, and, unfortunately, they use those other motivating factors as justification why they don't or shouldn't need to raise salaries.
After we talked for a while, he realized that it wasn’t the money. It turns out that he’s a high touch kind of guy. Needs appreciation and reassurance. He needs to know that what he is doing is valid and important. He also needs to feel as though he is contributing. Wants to be involved in projects.
Who wants to work for an EMS agency that doesn't appreciate them, forces them to do tasks that are not important (busy work), not permit them to contribute to the organization as a whole, and be solely relegated to the ambulance, where that's all they will ever get to do?

What you describe is employee retention 101. Treat people appropriately. let them contribute to the organization, and do stuff besides be on the ambulance. Most top talent want this; and by top talent, I mean those employees who could apply to 5 of your competitors tomorrow, and get better offers. Give them a reason to stay with your agency. Those examples you gave are a start. If more EMS agencies did that, our turnover problems would be much lower.

but we also need to pay people a living wage, so they don't have to leave to make more money at the supermarket deli because they want to get married and start a family, and the hours and salary at the deli are more conducive to family life than 60 hour weeks on the ambulance.
 

Aprz

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Some good points on pay.

I will say there are a couple of motivators for me.

I used to work with my best friend. You would've never guessed that our relationship would go downhill. When I felt like she stopped talking to me at work, we got into more fights, I stopped enjoying my job for awhile even though I was paid a lot for a paramedic. She left my unit which helped and I also frequently worked on a quick response vehicle by myself that I love to work on. A lot of people don't like to work by themselves, but I love it.

I feel like my co-worker treat me like I'm a good paramedic. In one of my favorite TV shows, a criminal said they did something because they were good at it. For a California paramedic, I feel like I am pretty good.

I do want more out of this job. Being a California paramedic, I pretty much can only assess, IV, and maybe intubate if you are unconscious/dead enough. I've only paced/cardioverted a handful of times. Other than Morphine and Ondansetron, I don't give most meds. Part of why I am looking at flight, a major paycut for me (nearly 50%) is not just working on a helicopter or plane, but because I want to do more for my patients. It is the same reason why I upgraded from EMT to paramedic; I was tired of just being a driver on an ALS unit. EMT and paramedic pay difference wasn't a lot when I became a paramedic. The paycut is huge for me and I am afraid of leaving my stable job, good seniority, something I know I can do for a job that I am afraid I might not like or be good at. What if my co-workers are mean to me. I cannot stand working with mean people. What if I am a terrible flight medic? What if I am just giving people rides on a helicopter without doing much medicine? Then I will have left my great paying job for essentially nothing or worse.
 
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mgr22

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Aprz, I think the most significant statement you made is that you love to work by yourself. Why swap that for something else?

I spent most of my adult life searching for things I loved doing. When I found them, I stayed with them. That made me happy. As long as I could pay the bills, the money was secondary. There was no amount that made me love jobs I didn't.
 
OP
NomadicMedic

NomadicMedic

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One of my absolute favorite things is working as a solo medic on a fly car. It’s mentally stimulating, can be a challenge... always a good day for me.
 

Aprz

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Aprz, I think the most significant statement you made is that you love to work by yourself. Why swap that for something else?

I spent most of my adult life searching for things I loved doing. When I found them, I stayed with them. That made me happy. As long as I could pay the bills, the money was secondary. There was no amount that made me love jobs I didn't.
The quick response vehicle shift I work is only an overtime/part time shift. It's not something we can bid onto to work full time. It's a newer thing out here and only a few of us are allowed to work it. I work it on top of my normal ambulance shift. I hope they make it a full time shift we can bid on, but I don't know if my seniority will be enough since there are only one of those shifts right now (only 4 people would be able to bid, night or day, front or back half).

I really enjoy working shifts with people I really like. There are a couple of people that I'll always pickup shifts with when their shifts are open. My old EMT partner used to be like that, but now I've lost that feeling with her. I'm afraid to work with her again. Like I am not afraid that we will do something wrong for a patient in the middle of the shift, but I feel like it'll hurt our friendship more. We used to be really tight and not so much anymore. I was afraid that we wouldn't recover our friendship last bid. I don't think our friendship will ever be the same.
 
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VentMonkey

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I honestly don’t want to lose this guy. He’s a staff motivator and a natural leader. People gravitate to him, and what he says carries influence.
Without coming across as arrogant, I’d like to say, I feel, I possess these qualities.

Having been up, down, and all around about every paramedic position that this company offers, I’d say my service has given back to me what I’ve put forth in self-motivation.

Some days it sucked (sometimes it still does, but eh, I’m a firm believer in “if it didn’t suck occasionally, it’s not a job”; not a big “unicorn” guy), but it’s indirectly paid off.

I think I have found out my drive is certainly more clinically-based. I figured out quickly that I had no desire to ever be a manager at any level after having been a frontline supe for a bit more than half of a decade.

I’ve learned that I can only train so much before I’m at my wits end with the out of ratio interns who want to actually learn vs. those that talk more than they’ll ever walk it.

I’ve learned that, superficial or not, money certainly is form some motivation.

I like not having to break my back doing OT on an ambulance unless I want to, and still being able to afford a comfortable living.

In summary, my drive has always been inherent. I went through several phases of my paramedic career before I saw it come to fruition. Now? I mostly sit back and reap the rewards.

I’m satisfied with work, that’s about all I can ask for. Nothing will ever drive me more than the desire to keep my family happy. That took me a bit to figure out. Work will always be a secondary driving factor for me.
 

mgr22

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The quick response vehicle shift I work is only an overtime/part time shift. It's not something we can bid onto to work full time. It's a newer thing out here and only a few of us are allowed to work it. I work it on top of my normal ambulance shift. I hope they make it a full time shift we can bid on, but I don't know if my seniority will be enough since there are only one of those shifts right now (only 4 people would be able to bid, night or day, front or back half).

Perhaps you can find similar work somewhere else.
 

RenegadeRiker

Forum Lieutenant
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Money and teaching people how to do things the right way, safely, the first time. Really don’t like supervision as much as I thought I would, and the more time I spend in EMS, the less I want to play the games required to be a manager in most contexts.
As for the original poster’s comments- welcome to HR 101. People like to be appreciated and to matter.
 
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NomadicMedic

NomadicMedic

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Money and teaching people how to do things the right way, safely, the first time. Really don’t like supervision as much as I thought I would, and the more time I spend in EMS, the less I want to play the games required to be a manager in most contexts.
As for the original poster’s comments- welcome to HR 101. People like to be appreciated and to matter.

Interestingly enough, I shared some of the comments with the rest of the supes and they said, in short, "that's BS, we appreciate then all".

We've got to send these people to some leadership training.
 

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