The Police NewsBy Cole Zercoe
IACP Quick Take: How to weed out morale killing behaviors in your agency
Morale is influenced largely by the work environment, and one of the biggest contributors to a bad work environment is a lack of accountability
ORLANDO - Every agency, no matter its size, has employees who suck the life out of the job. At the 125th International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, Ron Glidden, retired police chief and author of the “Bulletproof Leadership” series, broke down how early intervention accountability is key to handling “morale killers” in your agency.
Morale is influenced largely by the work environment. Glidden says one of the biggest contributors to a bad work environment in police agencies is a lack of accountability. If you’re not making employees accountable for poor quality work or other issues, your top performers will become demoralized.
“It’s about the work environment you create,” Glidden said. “It’s how you interact with employees. And that doesn’t cost you a penny.”
3 KEY TAKEAWAYS
1. You need to correct problematic behavior (and you need to do it early).
Glidden believes conflict avoidance - particularly when it comes from leadership - is one of the biggest problems in law enforcement today. As a police leader, when you avoid conflict, you’re also avoiding accountability.
Waiting until a problem balloons before addressing it will only cause more problems. Glidden used the example of a constantly tardy employee to illustrate his point. If you wait until the tenth or fifteenth time an employee is late to call out the behavior, you’re more likely to get a poor reaction than if you intervene early. (“Why is this suddenly a problem?”)
Accountability shows your employees you’re paying attention, you care, and your expectations and values matter. All of this creates a healthy work environment and good morale. But correcting problematic behavior doesn’t necessarily mean a slap on the wrist or a suspension, which leads us to takeaway number two...
2. Accountability isn’t about punishment.
According to Glidden, police leaders need to understand that accountability isn’t about punishment - it’s about future performance.
Discipline isn’t very effective in changing behavior. Sending an employee home does nothing to improve their future performance, but feedback does. Feedback improves morale by maintaining employee accountability, giving employees recognition, keeping them from guessing about their work, and providing them clear expectations.
Glidden says negative feedback should be given in person, that you should have empathy when delivering that feedback, and you should offer solutions to the problem, not just critiques.
3. Addressing these behaviors is a seven-step process.
Here’s Glidden’s step-by-step breakdown of how to address morale-killing behaviors: