Supervising Strengths - Part II

Cops are willful, opinionated, self-confident, and challenging. And that’s exactly why they were hired for this job. Good luck if you are “just a decent manager.” But if you can be both one of the “most effective managers” and a true leader at...

1)     Thinking “outside the box?” - Reliance on empirical measures of “good police work” is easily measurable but tends to discourage subordinates who work that is high quality, but not readily quantifiable. Being “numbers motivated” can burn those whose contributions are significant but subjective.

2)     Treating him as an individual? - Do they recognize his efforts to conform to their expectations, while respecting his unique abilities and contributions to the team? Are they acting with his best interests in mind, considering he’d someday like to become an investigator and particularly a financial crimes investigator, and allowing him to pursue those interests?

3)     Focusing on his strengths and how they can enhance his work as a deputy? Or are they looking at what he doesn’t do as well as they do, or would like him to do, and focus instead on remediation of perceived weaknesses?

4)     Aware of how they are being perceived by Barry (and, presumably, other subordinates) because of their behavior and demands, and of the potential long-term consequences of that perception?

5)     Concerned about how Barry’s (and, presumably, other subordinates) satisfaction will impact and influence stakeholders they should be concerned about?

6)     Aware, or do they care, that the consequences of their supervisory style and expectations may have detrimental long-term effects? Bosses can bully employees into short-term results that are, over time, unsustainable if the employees quit on them either figuratively or literally.

7)     Creating an environment where their subordinates can answer “Yes” to most or all of the following questions (the Q12)?:

Engaged & Productive Employees Answer “YES” to the Following Questions 

  1. Do I know what is expected of me?
  2. Do I have the material and equipment I need to do my job right?
  3. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone else from work, care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone who encourages my professional development?
  7. Do my opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the organization’s mission/purpose make me feel my job is important?
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the last six months, has someone talked to me about my progress?

12. In the last year, have I had the opportunity to learn and grow?

Morale is critical to the success of a police department. Building and holding onto high morale should be important to bosses at all levels, and depends largely on whether they know and understand – and respect – the strengths of those they supervise.  

In our next article – and final installment in this series on “Supervising Strengths” - we will pull everything together as we look at how a supervisor can apply a “strengths perspective” to supervising a squad of police officers.


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About The Authors:

Althea Olson, LCSW has been in private practice in the Chicago suburbs since 1996. She has a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University providing individual, couple, & group therapy to adolescents, adults, and geriatrics. Althea is also trained in Critical Incident Stress Management & is a certified divorce mediator.

Mike Wasilewski, MSW has been with a large suburban Chicago department since 1996. He holds a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University and has served on his department’s Crisis Intervention & Domestic Violence teams. Mike is an adjunct instructor at Northwestern College.

Mike & Althea have been married since 1994 and have been featured columnists for Officer.Com since 2007. Their articles are extremely popular and they now provide the same training and information in person throughout the United States. This dynamic team was recently featured at the at the 2010 & 2011 ILEETA Conference & Exposition.

Out of their success has come the formation of More Than A Cop where the focus is providing consultation and trainings on Survival Skills Beyond The Street.

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