I currently work for an agency whose administrative department tries very hard to encourage participation. They’re always looking for ways to boost morale. For example, they like to encourage their employees to go back to school and to be on committees and boards that effect their profession. I love being busy and am always volunteering for extra duties and responsibilities. (My husband and kids hates this, but I think it’s because they’re usually included in whatever I have signed up for! However, volunteering at work or in the community is a great example to set for kids.)
With other agencies I have worked for, this hasn’t always been the case. Every time I tried to offer suggestions on how to do something more efficiently or more cost-effective I’ve always been told, “This is how we have always done things and it’s working just fine,” or, “I will send it up the chain of command,” only to never hear anything back. I would look for classes and training for us to take as a division. We were always told that there was no money and then watched the department send the SWAT team or other specialty teams to the Law Enforcement Olympics or out-of-state training. It was very demoralizing for the staff in the communication center. We were told that we were important. But actions always speak louder than words: The workload would pile up with no increase in personnel. I guess we had managed for so long with what we had and adapted so well that folks thought everything was OK. No one noticed the morale plummeting and the stress increasing.
I recently read the article by Editor-in-Chief Dale Stockton in the May issue of Law Officer
entitled, Let Them Shine.
As I was reading it, a realization came over me. All of the years that I had been turned down for training, or had my suggestions shot down and my ideas laughed at, I was being held down and held back. We all were. But it all makes sense now. In the article, he said that someone he met had shared with him the 48 Laws of Power
and the first rule was, “Never outshine the master.” After I left that previous agency, a lot of the suggestions I had made were implemented. Thank you for the article, Dale. I now understand why some folks act the way they do. However, it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow now that I’m 20 years into my career!
So now I try to concentrate on the future and not the past when it comes to my career. I’m fortunate and grateful to be working for an agency that cares about their employees and that understands the importance of grooming those who shine and those who want to improve themselves. When you work hard to leave your mark, you want the people coming up behind you to follow in the tradition that made it great in the first place.
Supervisors and managers, look for those who show potential. Encourage them to get involved. Seek out their forte and mentor them. Are they good trainers? Ask them to put together training materials for you. Are they good speakers? Ask them to present or represent the division at functions. Do you have potential leaders in your group? Have them shadow your supervisors and give them a little extra responsibility.
Think of it this way: People want to feel important—or at least needed. Sharing responsibility in the communications center gives your employees a feeling of motivation. Don’t be that person that shares all their knowledge and expertise except for that one piece of information you think makes you invaluable. In reality, it just makes you selfish. Sharing knowledge is a sign of leadership and teamwork. If you have people in your center who have special skills or talent, encourage them to develop that talent. You shouldn’t feel threatened, but instead excited that you have people on your staff that can help your department shine!
My training coordinator has a knack for seeing the best in people. She’s always trying to include folks in special projects and tasks. She encourages them to join in and get involved. “The more the merrier,” she always says. She has a way of looking into the future and putting things and people into place so that when something new comes along we’re ready or have already accomplished the task required of us. She’s smart enough to know that it’s easy for our profession to outgrow us if we let it and keeps abreast of new and upcoming applications in the public safety world.
I feel this is good advice for any agency or department. Appreciate your subordinates and what special talents they may have. Encourage them to feed that talent. If they’re recognized, they will be happier employees and morale goes up. If morale is up, performance and attendance go up. And the results can be wonderful for all involved. Customer service gets better and the department looks great—all because you let them shine!
One more thing: Supervisors and managers, don’t forget to be thankful. That one little word can go a long way. When your division or department looks good, so do you!
Stay safe my family.
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