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.
2--once in a while
- 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.