The Key to Creating High Performing Officers
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  1. #1

    Exclamation The Key to Creating High Performing Officers

    The Key to Creating High Performing Officers
    Leading by believing big

    Updated: September 17th, 2007 02:15 AM PDT

    Training Contributor

    Last month in an article entitled The Power of Belief--YOU Can Create High Performers we looked at how your beliefs and expectations--as a law enforcement leader or trainer-- can predestine recruit and officer performance. This month we take up the challenge of how to put your beliefs and expectations into action to create high performing officers.

    Call Your Recruits and Officers to BIG, HEROIC Challenges

    Some years ago, Time magazine wrote about the problem our "all volunteer" military was having filling their enlistment quotas with recruits that met minimum standards. Can any of you relate?

    The military pointed to the economy--blaming low unemployment and a private sector that offered flex-time, profit sharing, better benefits, career changes and advancement. They considered a two-prong approach. First, they tried to compete with the private sector by touting sign up bonuses, paid college tuition, and career training that could later be parlayed into big bucks in the private sector (presumably when the soldier declined to re-enlist). And, they looked at their standards. Can any of you relate?

    Faced with this dilemma, what did the Marines do? They raised their standards. Let's get this straight. The Marines said, "We don't pay any more than those other branches. We don't offer any more educational or other benefits. In fact, we're harder to get into and harder to stay in. But join us, because we expect and demand more of you." Yeah, right. So which branch of the armed forces has consistently met or exceeded its recruitment goals with soldiers who meet higher standards? The Marines.

    What's the lesson here for law enforcement leaders and trainers? Whenever you have a goal you want to enlist recruits or officers to work towards, frame it as the biggest, toughest, seemingly impossible goal possible. People are drawn to grand, heroic adventures more than small tasks. That's the problem with "dumbing down." Asking small things of people, makes them feel small.

    George Orwell said it,
    The high sentiments always win in the end, the leaders who offer blood, toil, tears, and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.

    The best leaders understand that calling people to big, tough challenges signals a belief in their heroic potential. This belief by their leader enlarges the spirit and strength of people. Calling people to noble endeavors does something else. It creates meaning in the work being done. People want deeper meaning in their lives.

    What's that some of you Baby Boomers (41 to 60 years of age) and Veterans (61 years and older) say? Gen X and Gen Y don't want anything tough? You can try telling that to the Marines, but they're not buying it. One of their recent commercials shows Marines in the mud, in the cold, sleep deprived, straining, grimacing. In exchange the Corps offers simply, "Duty," "Honor," "Country." The Army isn't buying it. One of its recruitment ads after September 11th showed Army soldiers throughout history answering the call to protect and serve at great hardship to themselves. The ad ended with "Every generation has its heroes. This one is no different."

    And I'm not buying it. I train recruits and officers all over the country--including men and women in their 20s and 30s. I tell them that Teddy Roosevelt, who was once the top cop of New York City, described well the path they've chosen,
    The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena; whose faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly; who err and come short again and again...who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at least know in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst if they fail, at least fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

    George Orwell didn't say it any better. I've returned to the Academies where I've given Roosevelt's daunting message only to discover that the young recruits have emblazoned it on their class banner. The future of policing gets a consistent message from me--I expect heroic things of them.

    Then Tell Them You Believe They Can Meet the Challenge

    And I believe they will deliver.

    At in international law enforcement training conference, the incomparable Dave Smith, aka J.D. "Buck" Savage," (or is it the other way around?) described a firearms training in which the instructor first gave all the female officers grip strengthening exercises. Then Dave asked his audience, "What belief did this communicate?" The audience wisely responded, "That the female officers were weak." The likely adverse effect on these officers was demonstrated in last month's article. (Similarly, if you believe Gen X and Y officers won't embrace tough challenges, you're setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy for them and you.) But, what do you do with a recruit or an officer that might need some extra remedial work? How do you raise their performance without signaling a belief that they are underperforming?

    Continuing with Dave's example, first determine everyone's need without the burden of an instructor's preconceived beliefs. (Also make sure that grip strength is the issue, not gun fit. I can't palm a basketball but it has nothing to do with my grip strength. But, I digress.) Then, take those who need remedial measures aside and tell them that YOU and their community need them. That you believe they have an important contribution to make and they have what it takes to make it--no matter how tough the challenge. Tell them you so believe in them that you're going to give them extra work on top of an all ready demanding training--grip strengthening exercises (or whatever). And tell them, "Each and every time you work that grip I want you to say, 'I'm going to qualify,' because I believe you will."

    And When They Meet the Challenge ...

    What do you do when your recruits or officers achieve the high expectations you set for them? Recognize them and express your heartfelt appreciation. It sounds simple but research shows,
    Only about 40% of North American workers say they receive recognition for a job well done.
    Only 50% of managers say they give recognition for high-performance.
    Unless this issue is addressed, the goal of achieving a high-performance workplace will remain unattainable.
    Kepner-Tregoe, People and Their Jobs: What's Real, What's Rhetoric? Princeton, NJ.

    Think that you already express big beliefs of your recruits and officers and acknowledge them in a meaningful way when they meet them? Let's see.

    What Are You Doing to Mobilize Your Power of Belief?

    Take the following test, adapted from Encouraging the Heart--A Leader's Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner.

    Write the number from the following scale that best describes your response to the statements that follow.
    1--almost never
    2--once in a while
    3--fairly often
    5--almost always
    I express high expectations about people's capabilities.
    I let people know I have confidence in their abilities.
    I pay more attention to the positive things people do than to the negative.
    I personally acknowledge people for their contributions.
    I make sure our department/group celebrates achievements together.
    I am personally involved when we celebrate achievements.
    I recognize people more in public than in private for their exemplary performance.
    I express a positive and optimistic outlook, even when times are tough.

    Now go back and list specifically what you're doing for any item you rated 2 through 5. Can't think of anything, or only one thing? Maybe you need to revise your rating. Then, if you're a truly courageous leader, ask your officers or recruits to evaluate you on these items.

    Finally, a challenge for the heroes amongst you--soar to a 5 for every statement. Go ahead. I believe you can do it! And I know that when you do, you'll see recruits and officers rising to your expectations and working for your recognition.


    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

  2. #2
    Lofty expectations. Of course IMHE, (30+ years LEO), most officers come on high speed, low drag. Here to change the world and "Make a difference" Then between 7 and 15 years on. They hit the wall of Administrator Hubris". Career command officers, pandering to politicians that routinely sacrifice good hardworking officers for political expediency for the "cause of the month". This is a problem in larger agencies in particular with major news papers and liberal leaning public pandering officials... I have seen many officers burn out and leave the job.. Seen the with their personal lives in upheaval. Embittered and, well you get he picture. The whole heroic challenges call is a dangerous call, a sirens call to the shoals. Best done tied to the mast and with dear friends and family with wax in there ears for protection and maintaining the course... Most agencies are not "Family Friendly". Without a constant and well grounded support system, fraught with peril.
    As Nietzsche said it, "He who fights against monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster in the process", and "When you stare persistently into an abyss, the abyss also stares into you". (I do not subscribe to many of Nietzsche's personal views, but have found much truth in these two...)

  3. #3
    Squad Leader Free Member Zulu 36's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Crescent City
    Seattle, you've hit the nail on the head.

    I'd probably still be on the job myself except for the burnout that came with dealing with suck-ass bosses and liberal politicians. AND I was the deputy chief when I left.

    I loved police work and I think I was very good at it. But if I had it to do all over again, I would never, ever test for a rank above sergeant. I would also fight to stay in patrol or in the narcotics unit. It stopped being fun after I made lieutenant.

  4. #4
    Yeah, I worked narcotics for thee years. I stayed officer for 15 & detective for 15. I saw many of my squad mates answer that siren call to promotion. It's like signing up for Jonestown coolaid. I just felt If I went higher, the fewer jobs I could apply for. I worked patrol, street crimes, mountain bike patrol, narcotics, juvenile, burglary theft detail, inspections unit. I found that a change every five or so years helped. Seattle has about 1200 sworn, four patrol precincts, mountain bike patrol, investigation, harbor unit, traffic unit, horse patrol, full time swat, full time training & range unit & a CSI unit. Plenty of options for an officer or detective. I had one friend gave up his stripes after 10 years as a Sgt. He tried for 7 years and could never find a day job. Our patrol shifts suck. (9-80), OT out the ass.. We have many officers earning more money than the COP. Of course, most is in court OT (60% of all court is paid OT or on shift paid) or off duty work. They pay SPD officers about $30 an hour for 6 to 8 hour shifts for construction flagging downtown, and off duty security, in SPD uniform. At any given time, there are more officers working off duty in Seattle then on watch. I truly think that the only reason many of the troops stick around is the off duty carrot. (Which is why the City won't cut the string).

    I'm pulling the pin myself in four months. So as we say around here, "I'll see there is live after the SPD"..

    Semper Fi!

  5. #5
    Guest Free Member
    God bless you Gunslingers. I never gave much thought to the Police until one day I thought there was a burglar in my house. I quickly got my wife and daughter out and called 911. Those Officers were there in three minutes ready to drill anyone that invaded my home.

  6. #6

    Hi I really liked that article. Iv'e been busy, and got a clean bill of health. Sempre Fi Darwin

  7. #7
    I feel like sharing this around the Forest Service, but first I will have to reread it with feeling and make sure it says what I think it says.

  8. #8
    I read the post and I really liked it. It is indeed a very good thinking. It is good to have you write some very good articles like this here. Thanks for the article and keep up the good work. Looking forward for more such good articles. Stay connected.

  9. #9
    New to the forum: I feel this is a great article and provides tools that I can use in my civilian job as a leader. I might have to tweak a few things, as the nature of my team's responsibilities might not lend towards "heroic" opportunities... but there is always room for improvement.

  10. #10
    Ok where's the one on how to make a good mustang? I'm planning on going back in as a zero after gett'n my degree then retiring from the Marines into the Dpt of Homeland Security. I will be going for Infantry and want to go back to Afghan a few more times before having to ride a desk. Any one with good advice is welcome to message me. Just to let you know for all those can't do's, don't bother I don't take no for an answer.

  11. #11
    Most of the Mustangs I worked around were highly effective. They were ones that treated their subordinates with respect and never let their ego write checks there ass couldn't cash. While most of the Mustangs I worked around were excellent. Highly effective. And a shining example for their NCO's and Troops. A few were the biggest waste of landscape the Corps ever had the misfortune of granting a commission. Those thought by vurtue of commissioning, they were anointed by God. Were infallible. Did not have to care about their subordinates wellbeing. As you know, nothing stinks worse than bad acting and arrogance. So.. You know what traits you appreciate in a leader.. You've got memories of serving under solid, good leaders. Emulate them. Remember the bad ones and learn from them too.. What not to do.. My dad was a Mustang. I was an Marine NCO. My son is taking a commission with the Marines. He's at Norwich Military University. They have a mix of ROTC Cadets and enlisted MECEP NCO/SNCO Midshipmen. He already knows how to recognize bad leadership. I hope it holds him in good stead. By your asking the question puts you in good light. That you can improve and be better. When you think your Sh*t Don't stink.. That's when you fail. Never underestimate how important the goodwill and willingness to work for a common goal on the part of your subordinates. You will always look better to your command when your troops respect you and feel pride in your leadership, because they will make you look good. Nor how much harm they can do to you by way of embarrassment by action or in-action in front of command.
    Of course, being a former NCO. You'd never step over your NCO's.. Undermine their command and control and provide a rift between the line troops and their NCO's authority.. Most common mistake of new 2nd Lt's..
    Good luck on your career! As long as you look for self improvement and continue life-long learning.. I expect you will do well. As as I had recently retired after over 30 years in law enforcement. I hope you every luck in your endeavors after your Marine career!
    Semper Fi

  12. #12
    Yes. Once you start up the rank ladder. You lose your police work mind set and go in to the "Manager" mind set. No longer looking at catching the bad guy. Instead, you examine police officers action for risk management. For non-police types. Risk Management is where agencies look to minimize civil liability exposure. Hard charger officers walk a line between pats on the back for a job well done by the leadership of the department to "Oh ****, We don't know you" All dependent on how the press and the mayor feel about the action you are involved in.
    So, becoming a rank above patrol sergeant is departing the realm of police work and firmly in the management. Never to know the joy of a good arrest. The feeling of accomplishment after completing a ***** of an interrogation, using every Reid technique in your bag of tricks and getting the scumbag to really believe your rapport.
    There is a place for good police managers. The good ones remember their time in the trenches. They also paid their dues coming up. They still care about the troops still working the job and take reasonable steps to support them when the SHTF. They also support their sergeants and encourages the sergeants to keep an eye on their troops, correcting the troops when needed. Before it raises to an IA beef. Recognize and reinforce good police work.
    A lot of good cops go astray, believing they are doing good by bending the rules. That's why the sergeant roll is so very important. I really recommend reading Police Ethics: The Corruption of Noble Cause by Michael A. Caldero & John P. Crank. I attending a conference regarding the Rampart scandal and Michael Caldero was a guest speaker. I found the information very interesting.

  13. #13
    They were ones that treated their subordinates with respect and never let their ego write checks there ass couldn't cash

  14. #14

    Creating a High-Performance Workforce
    For those building the performance management process: It is important to build in reward milestones throughout the rollout and execution of the performance management process. These milestones will continue to provide the workforce with the incentive to take part and make the new process a success.
    For those sponsoring the performance management process: The rollout of performance management processes and the cultural change that takes place as a result always create some amount of stress. Budgeting for and using rewards as a mechanism to adapt to this change is important.
    As the rollout of the performance management process continues, measurement is a key piece of the puzzle that organizations often miss. Some of the areas that do get measured are:

    Which manager has gotten all of his or her employee reviews in?
    Which employees were late to turn in their reviews?
    How many high-performers did we have?
    What percentage of individuals did not meet their objectives?


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  15. #15
    I still believe that all officers should be chosen from the ranks of the enlisted or at the very least they should have to attend boot camp just like every other Marine. Every Marine is not a rifleman until every Marine endures the same training in my opinion.

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