In some cases, the problem is clear: one of your team members is clearly in the wrong assignment and needs to be urged elsewhere. This may be especially true if you head a specialty unit (SRO, detective, traffic, etc) and the member’s personality, temperament, or interest is inconsistent with the work, or if the skill set necessary simply isn’t there and no amount of remediation is going to help. For the maximum effectiveness of your team, the misfit officer’s happiness, and your sanity do everyone a favor and point out greener fields in others areas of the department.
But in other instances, parting ways simply may be impossible or the problem is one that can be fixed through motivation, creativity, a different supervision style, or a less drastic realignment of the team member’s duties and expectations. Knowing your best response is vastly helped by getting to really know your team.
Occasionally reevaluate your team and goals
Periodically reevaluate your team. People come and go, especially in larger departments where assignments frequently change, and evolve. As young officers mature into more seasoned veterans and veterans mellow with age and experience, that what grabs their interest changes. You’re surely not the same cop you were five, ten, fifteen years ago and neither are they. Strengths-based supervision is an ongoing process.
The benefits of Strengths-based Supervision
Truly knowing and engaging the strengths of your team in supervision style offers myriad benefits. Recognizing and engaging the diverse talents each brings enhances their effectiveness (and makes their boss look good, too!), improves morale, promotes improved teamwork, expands your unit’s capabilities, and better serves the public. Despite requiring more involved supervision in the beginning of the process, as you get to know your people and plan your supervision strategy, it should make you job easier in the long run, and allow you to become a more creative boss in your own right.
And did we mention, it makes the boss look good, too?
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.