Friday, October 3, 2014

Building Resiliency

More than 40 employees with the Yukon Wildland Fire Management Program, in Canada’s far north, participated in the 2014 Resilient Team Campaign.

By George Maratos
Whitehorse, Yukon Canada
September 16, 2014

Mike Etches addresses the room enthusiastically. It is 8:30 am and the group of about 40 have gathered at a facility known as “Hangar D.” Located in Whitehorse, Yukon, in Canada’s far north, the warehouse-like space is typically used as the home base for a contingent of Southern Lakes wildland firefighters. Today, however, it is the meeting ground for employees of Yukon’s Wildland Fire Management Program. They have gathered for their annual fall meetings and this year Etches, who is the program’s Director, has decided to incorporate the 2014 Resilient Team Campaign into the meetings.

“I want our organization to be the best community protection agency in Canada,” says Etches, during his opening remarks to kick off the two-day workshop. “In order to do that we need to learn to be resilient and to do that effectively we need to recognize that in order to move forward you need to do so as a team.”

Etches’ comments are met with some trepidation. It may be part lack of coffee and part the prospect of knowing that two full days of team building, in a poorly lit building, lie ahead. Etches’ remarks are followed by a few more speeches from senior government officials and then the staff break off into smaller working groups. Here they discuss topics ranging from healthy conflict and trust to commitment and enhancing leadership skills.

Yukon Wildland Fire Management

10:15 am – a shift in mood

By the end of the first working group session the early morning trepidation has been replaced by excitement and optimism. Staff from across the large territory, who often don’t get the chance to regularly meet face to face, have shared ideas and thoughts on what is being done well within the organization and where improvements can be made and, although early, already it’s apparent the campaign’s impact is taking hold as staff are genuinely engaged and healthy, open conversation is taking place.

The remainder of the day one agenda is made up of more breakout sessions and discussions on topics specific to Yukon Wildland Fire Management’s 2014 season. It concludes with a BBQ dinner and despite the already long day many have stuck around to mingle and eat with colleagues.

Yukon Wildland Fire Management
Staff with Yukon Wildland Fire Management share
ideas via small working groups.
Yukon Wildland Fire Management
Employee Scott Giroux address the topics of training and safety.
By the campaign’s two-day conclusion the overwhelming review from staff is positive. The prospect of sharing ideas and providing feedback face to face has been met with enthusiasm, something Etches’ had hoped for when he first came across the 2014 Resilient Team Campaign.

Yukon Wildland Fire Management
“I felt the language in the campaign would speak to them (staff) and connect with them much more quickly,” said Etches. “It was my hope that it would address what they were feeling and thinking and the early account is that it did that in many ways.”

Yukon Wildland Fire Management

And while it’s too early to really tell how the campaign’s impact will be felt by the Yukon Wildland Fire Management Program the groundwork and foundation for building leadership and working towards becoming the best community protection agency in Canada is now in place.

Thank you to Yukon Wildland Fire Management for sharing their campaign story with us. We are honored that the campaign can benefit our wildland fire partners around the world.

Yukon Wildland Fire Management
2014 Wildland Fire Leadership Campaign - The Resilient Team logo

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