How do you really feel about your job?
By Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith
How do you feel about your job? How do your employees feel about theirs? Does it matter in this profession? According to author Patrick Lencioni, it matters in every profession, whether you’re a rock star, a waitress, or a cop, and it affects not only employee performance, attitude, and turnover, but the bottom line as well.
In his new book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job there are three underlying factors that will make anyone’s job a miserable one. They are: Anonymity, Irrelevance, and Immeasurement, and they absolutely can impact all aspects of the law enforcement profession.
People can’t be happy or fulfilled in their work unless they are known. This shouldn’t be hard; after all, everyone notices cops, right? But does your supervisor know you? Do they know anything about you other than the rudimentary personal facts? It's one thing if my boss knows I’m married with four kids, it’s another to know my kids names, the sports they play, and how that deer hunt that my husband and daughter went on this weekend turned out. This might sound a little too touchy-feely for our profession, and in fact, it may make some supervisors and managers downright nervous. After all, we’ve been told that too much probing into someone’s personal life can be perceived as the wrong thing to do, legally and professionally.
Who is the custodian helping, who is he impacting, and how does he do that? Well, if it wasn’t for him, the trash cans would overflow, the floors would be muddy, the briefing room would be a disaster; in other words, it would be much less pleasant to come to work if it wasn’t for our custodian. He gets our community room ready for meetings and retirement parties and cleans up afterwards; he cleans our carpet when one of us spills our coffee, and he doesn’t even complain when he has to clean up a “deposit” made by a stray puppy someone brings into the front lobby. Most of us try hard to remember to say “thanks” once in awhile, but I think he knows that if it wasn’t for him, our lives would be a lot more dingy. He impacts the lives of the whole organization as well as the citizens who visit our facility, and even our families who attend the promotional and retirement parties we have at the department. In other words, he knows his work matters to other people.
However, what if you’re the chief? Don’t you impact the whole organization? Of course you do, but whose life do you most impact, and how? Your management team might be one answer, but Mr. Lencioni says that for high level mangers, like chiefs, sheriffs and CEO’s, the answer might really be “my boss.” And if you’re a chief or a sheriff, you may have to spend some time convincing the members of your management team that the person THEY most impact their boss, YOU. That may initially seem self-serving, but think about it. It you’re a deputy chief and your team puts together a project that makes the chief’s night at the city counsel meeting a successful one, isn’t it the chief who is most impacted by your work?
Ok, “immeasurement” isn’t really a word, but what Lencioni is trying to say is that most people do not have a clear means of assessing his or her progress or success on the job. As patrol officers, my team can measure their successes in the number of tickets they write and arrests they make,
There are thousands of great police management books out there, but The Three Signs of a Miserable Job is written as a fable and really gives police mangers, supervisors, and even their employees, some simple and innovative things to think about to make sure we all truly enjoy our jobs.
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