Overcoming 3 key challenges to change management in policing
Instead of implementing change by accident, lawsuit, or crisis, law enforcement professionals need to act deliberately — with confidence and purpose — to ensure the desired outcomes
By Deborah Lewis, Diversity Officer, United States Capitol Police, and
In law enforcement, the ability to respond to a variety of changing situations is key to the safety and security of both the police and the public. However, this ability sometimes falters when focused on law enforcement administration — we may at times find individuals who can quickly adapt to changing conditions in the field, yet show little dexterity to changing conditions within the organization.
The challenges related to change management in law enforcement can be numerous, but most tend to manifest in three key areas:
1.) Identifying change
1.) Identifying Change
Second order change focuses on the culture and transformational efforts and requires more time, effort, and commitment. The decision on the type of change required is dependent on specific departmental cultural factors and outcomes desired in a specific law enforcement organization.
As most law enforcement departments are autocratic and paramilitary, an assessment of how tolerant the culture will be in embracing change is required. This assessment will provide critical information on areas of resistance, as well as potential champions.
Please note: giving the change order is not enough to facilitate, implement, or reap the benefits of change.
2.) Communicating Change
While law enforcement personnel may share some common concerns, the failure to address the specific concerns and expectations of the differing divisions, districts, or bureaus will doom the change process.
In addition, the change process should be framed as a “telling and selling” effort — with leadership engaging in active listening to officers throughout the department, at every rank. Active listening provides officials with instant feedback on the change process, helps to identify gaps in the communication channels, and engages officers in the process.
3.) Resisting Change
When giving orders is the norm, many law enforcement officials often fail to develop their managerial toolkit to include techniques for influencing, inspiring, or engaging officers to selected outcomes.
Leaders have to seek out change allies throughout the organization, including labor unions and informal leaders to speed up the implementation and embed change. It is also critical to recognize the resistance to change may come from other law enforcement officials, especially those with long tenures, the root guards of days gone by.
While the law enforcement culture supports that orders and directives are carried out and cascaded to the frontline, that should not be read as support or commitment to the stated change by officials. Purposeful employee engagement is required to fuel and sustain the change process.
Instead of implementing change by accident, lawsuit, or crisis, law enforcement professionals need to act deliberately — with confidence and purpose — to ensure the desired outcomes.
|Back to previous page|