20 ways to NEVER get a police promotion

The big secret is that the people evaluating you for promotion are expecting you to walk into the interview or the scenarios already “walking the talk” as a good supervisor


So you think you’re really ready for that promotional exam? Perhaps you should read the list below and ask yourself if any of the following behaviors have crept into your “preparation” for promotion. 

I’ve compiled 20 excellent ways to never get promoted. If you’re doing any of them, you’re hurting your chances. The more of them you’re doing, the more work you have to do.

1.    When you see a flyer on a promotional class, just pass it to your competition. You’ll be working for them soon enough! 
2.    Listen to everyone who tells you, “Don’t worry about the interview or assessment center. Just be yourself!”
3.    Find someone who will tell you exactly what the last interview or scenarios were, since they always do same ones.
4.    Wait until the first participants come out of the testing process and ask them what the scenarios were before your turn! After all, who will know?
5.    Don’t read anything on how to do well in either a panel interview or assessment center, but read all you can about your policies and procedures.
6.    Study for hours and hours for months ahead of your testing process by reading your departmental manuals and policies until your eyes bleed!
7.    Don’t read your job description for the new rank. Just sell yourself as how good you are at what you do now.
8.    Don’t practice your core supervisory and management skills using daily scenarios, in-baskets, presentations, briefings, initiating projects, and the like.
9.    Rely strictly on your years of experience and winning personality.
10.    If your department won’t pay for you to go to any training prior to your promotion — such as a supervisory/management course or a course like ours that focus on interviews, behavioral scenarios or assessment centers — do not pay for a course yourself. 
11.    Don’t attend any course that isn’t POST or “certified” by your state certification agency. They know what courses are best for you so stick to their menu of courses.
12.    Don’t read any professional journals or magazines with articles on supervision or management in public safety.
13.    Only attend conferences that involve firing weapons, looking at cool stuff, and lectures about safety/survival and advanced technical skills.
14.    Don’t take any supervisory or management skill-building courses. Stick with what’s worked for you so far.
15.    Wait until the last minute just before the interview or assessment center dates are announced and quickly look online for some help! 
16.    Ignore your department’s annual reports, long range plans, budgets, and future needs - you won’t need to know about them anyway.
17.    Do not memorize your department’s mission, values, goals and objectives. Those are just trick questions.
18.    Don’t worry about the challenges the department will face in three or five years — you’ll most likely  be in the same position you are now.
19.    Wait until after you’re promoted to go to supervisory or mid-management training. Obviously, if your agency wanted you to know anything about supervision or management they would have trained you before you got promoted, not afterwards!
20.    Don’t initiate or get involved with “study groups” — they are a waste of time and the “smart guy” always knows all the answers. 

Every Day is Free Practice
I hope you realize that was a tongue-in-cheek list. But in all seriousness, many of you will be starting to study for your promotional exams to first line supervision. And some of you are doing some of that stuff. 

Unfortunately, many candidates get tunnel vision on the written portion of their tests, and totally ignore the interview panel, role-play scenarios, and the assessment center. 

While I helped hundreds of candidates prepare for promotion, most are surprised to learn they are often totally unprepared for the behavioral aspects of the testing process — interviews and performance-based scenarios that are often used in assessment centers.  

Since you think you’re ready for that promotion, you may tend to think that “It’s a piece of cake!” and just because you have been on so many years, you’re “ready.”

The truth is, you really need to start developing some of those supervisory skills well before any testing process. The big secret is that the people evaluating you for promotion are expecting you to walk into the interview or the scenarios already “walking the talk” as a good supervisor. 

Consider the term “command presence” and remember that now would be a good time to start developing your “supervisory presence” they need to see and hear in you. 

Those making promotion decisions are looking for that one candidate with experiences which match the KSAs — knowledge, skills, and abilities — of a good supervisor. Start by reviewing those key “abilities” that are in the job description. Have you really demonstrated your readiness in those areas? If not, now’s a good time to get started! 

Every day is free practice!

About the author

Rick’s experience in law enforcement started with the San Diego Police Department. He was a SWAT sergeant, FTO Supervisor, a community relations officer, and head of the Crime Prevention Unit. He then served as a Sgt. and Lt. with two university police departments. Rick accepted a position as a criminal justice professor and coordinator of a community college POST police academy.  While also serving as an interim Chief of Police, he was successful in initiating the transformation of a college security force to eventually an armed, POST police force. He also served a Reserve Lieutenant for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, working in Backgrounds & Training. As a professor, he has taught criminal justice courses at the community college level, and police administration, management, and emergency planning at the graduate level.  

As a published author, his research has been focused on leadership development issues in public safety. His article on “Succession Planning” was published by Police Chief Magazine in June of 2006. As a lecturer, he has spoken to the Ohio Chiefs of Police Training Conference, the International Congress on Assessment Methods conference, and (as a Certified DACUM Instructor) for the International DACUM (Designing a Curriculum) conference.  As a grant writer, he initiated, directed and implemented a web-site for the California State Community College Chancellor’s Office to attract potential candidates including underrepresented populations into police, fire, corrections and supporting roles. That website is www.publicsafetyinfo.org.  Rick is also certified as a trainer for the Public Safety Leadership & Ethics course under a similar California State Chancellor’s grant.

He is the Director of KSA, Ltd. and hosts workshops to teach supervision and management skill-building to police, fire and correctional personnel to get them ready for promotion.  As a former rater for promotional assessment centers and the author of “Preparing for Assessment Centers in Public Safety,” he has developed relevant hands-on curriculum that include a series of behavior-based exercises designed to simulate real-world scenarios and expectations of a supervisor, using the assessment center methods. His web-site: www.assessmentcenter.org contains numerous testimonies of those who have completed his course and gone onto achieve top scores/rankings for promotion: for law enforcement: to Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Deputy Chief and Chief; for fire: to Captain, Battalion Chief and Division Chief; and for federal agents: to GS-13-15 supervisory and management positions. 

He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and he has done post-graduate work with the Union Institute and University researching succession planning in public safety.  As a writer, he has published several articles and textbooks including: Preparing for Assessment Centers in Public Safety, Criminal Law, Criminal Investigations, and Crime Scene Investigations.  He is generous in sharing his knowledge and experience and enjoys helping others learn supervisory and leadership skills to effect change and build a coalition as the next generation of ethical decision-makers.  

Contact Rick Michelson

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  2. Police Jobs and Careers
  3. Promotion

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