Webinar presenter Dr. Michael Goold answered a number of your questions after his presentation, It’s the Manager. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Do you find it difficult to implement these kinds of changes that you’re describing when the employees have a union?
Michael Goold: Two parts to that, I think if you, if an agency and I’m talking leadership, right the chief for or the sheriff, or whoever the department head. If they have at least a working relationship with the union, I’d say, no. I have a really good relationship with our Deputy Sheriffs Association’s President, we’re actually classmates and he and I talked a lot throughout my career, and even after I’m retired. And this is just one person’s perspective, but I think police unions want great leadership at their agency. As disgruntled as employees can be, and it’s fun to take potshots at the top of the food chain is, in their heart of hearts, they want a well-run agency and doing the right thing. And maybe I’m missing something, but I can’t imagine a union is going to go “Hey, yeah. We’re going to fight about diversity and inclusion”, or making sure that employees have the right equipment or they’re getting more leadership training, and we’re doing strength training, and I see those as positive. So, I would hope not, I sometimes tend to be a little more rose-colored glasses, but I think if, if done for the right reasons, then I don’t see a problem with it.
Audience Question: My agency does a really good job of onboarding new employees. But it’s terrible at promoting new leaders. Michael, isn’t that, is that a continuation of just starting, you know, forgetting that? You know, once you have that person in the role that you need to continue to grow them and. How do you adapt? How do you build on the great work that you’re already doing in onboarding? How do you adapt that and, and figure out a way to create those channels to help move people up the chain of command?
Michael Goold: Yeah, that’s a great question. And what comes to mind is, again. I think, and I saw it in my career, and I made the mistake is oh, there is a great person. She’s ready to be a sergeant. You know, he’s ready to be a sergeant. But the mindset that needs to happen from the leaders is, and not to be dismissive is we need to treat that new Sergeant as if they don’t know anything about supervision. I know that might sound, I think this went through a little bit, but is almost like a new employee, right? Yeah, they’ve had the Academy. They had the experience. But we make a, I think, a bigger assumption that a new supervisor/manager knows more about what’s expected of them, and what their role is than what actually happens, if that makes sense. So, we need to onboard just as heavily from supervisor and leadership promotions as we do as a brand-new employee. It’s no different.
Host: I see what you’re saying now. I think that’s a great idea. So, they’ve done the onboarding process, they just haven’t thought about all of the onboarding that happens at an agency. It’s not just the brand-new employee, but all of the different types of onboarding that happens. That’s a great idea.
Audience Question: How do you think the challenges managers are facing since the advent of COVID? How much more important is that manager now to the agency’s success?
Michael Goold: Even more? I’m looking at the different aspects that we have here in the, in the criminal justice field as, you know, to me, it’s even more important now that a manager is the human side of leadership. You know, we focus a lot on the technical aspect of things in management, but not always on the people in emotional intelligence. I think EQ is huge right now. I’m just talking about the stressors of, you know, you might have an employee whose spouse or significant other has lost their job. So many people have lost their job. You know, the Disney companies laying off 32,000 employees. The airline industry is getting clobbered. Schools, you have employees that are now having to be teachers at home. So, they’re trying to figure out how do I get their kids to someone’s house to go to school so I can go to work or adjust my schedule so I can be home so my kids can do their Zoom schoolwork. And that’s not going away anytime soon. So I think even more now that leadership has to step up, and managers have to step up and do the human side, the EQ side of leadership, and really be there for employees in ways that, again, we just don’t think of right as well, that it’s your job to worry about your kids getting to school. Yeah, that’s somewhat true, but more importantly, hey, how what do we need to do? Maybe this person needs to leave a little early so they can get home, so their spouse or significant other can go to work or be home for the kids. And maybe adjusting a schedule a little bit to help facilitate that, because it’s very, very stressful. To, you know, leave a school-aged child at home and childcare and so forth.
Audience Question: What are your thoughts in terms of looping in the agency’s PIO? And how to address branding and its relationship to employees?
Michael Goold: Absolutely. So, a couple of things come to mind. One is that starts at the top right, that the agency head has to articulate what the why of the agency, so she, it’s really incumbent upon her to be able to articulate it to the agency. Because I think it gets to the PIO, so they know what messages to put out. So, I think that’s number one. Number two is to humanize the badge. And I very much believe in that, tried to do it as a Chief of Police and showing just as much of the positive that happens between an agency in a community than the negative. Because people don’t get to see that, I think very much we take it for granted within our profession. Of course, this is what I do, and it’s, it happens all the time. But we make the false assumption that’s what the public knows. Because the public is constantly being reminded of the shortcomings of our profession and the bad actors that discredit all the good work that we do. So, it’s incumbent upon every agency to put out their good stuff and that’s a mindset change for a lot of people. Like, well, that’s what we do. I’m not going to take a damn picture because I got push back when I tried to do this. You just kind of show them, hey, we’ve going to have a stack of good stuff. A lot of it to negate the stuff that’s going to maybe not help us. Whether it’s a questionable officer-involved shooting or use of force or employee behavior. And we don’t do this just to cover our butts on this, but we need to give some balance in that. So, the role of the PIO inside the agency, and outside the agency of communicating that, is significant.
Audience Question: Michael, you talked about getting to know your employee’s strengths. And you’ve referenced it wasn’t Clifton, could you get us a sense of what are the strengths that Clifton talks about?
Michael Goold: You bet. So hopefully you can see this on my cameras down there, but this is the book from Clifton Strengths, is Describe Your Strengths, you can go to the website. What they did Clifton, and they did a huge study, and they found out that throughout the world, there are 34 different strengths that people have. And depending on how you answer questions, and you can see them, either you can buy the report, either at your top five are all 34 listed out. So, my, I have command, and learner, and input, and significance, and woo. So, there are different areas that you can, you can see Harmony, Empathizers, Public safety, there’s a strength called restorative, which is bringing back what’s broken to be healed. And when I teach strengths in my leadership class there a lot of people that have restorative in there as one of their top five strengths. Again, this is what looking at what’s right with an employee. And, trust me, I have six brothers. We never talked about how good we were. Boys, men are naturally, you know, violent. But from an agency, it’s just a great way to have a conversation. So, it’s that part of that development within an agency. So, I highly recommend either yourself, it’s pretty cheap to go get and to take the assessment, and it just tells you what’s right with you and what your natural strengths are. So, again, my command is, I was happier than I was in my flow when I was in charge. Or input, I’m a learner, my wife hates my Amazon account report because I am constantly buying books, but I’m happiest when I’m learning. I know, right? So, again, it’s just an element, but that gets that employee engagement, right? So then, you know. You don’t just put someone in a job because of their strength, but then you can know a way to tailor it and to bring out the strength. Oh, I forgot, you’re really good at harmony. And maybe, this would be good for a problem-oriented policing officer to go out into the community, because you like harmony, that’s your strength and you’re going to be good at it. So, you’re going to help facilitate those discussions. So, I highly recommend getting that and using this as part of your employee development.
Host: Well Sherry, just, to your point, Sherry just texted in that Clifton strength finders quiz is very important. So, you can understand how your strengths will help our career. So, she agrees with you that it’s a very useful tool. So, I’m so glad you shared that.
Audience Question: What does engagement actually look like in a criminal justice agency or public safety organization?
Michael Goold: You bet. So, a couple of things come to mind. Well, engagement, there are two things. One, we’ve talked about roles and responsibilities, and so forth, right? With those discussions between a manager or a supervisor, and the employee. It’s just as incumbent upon the agency to clarify expectations and performance metrics, right. To say, oh, this is what the expectation is. Because I think in the government, which is like, well, you’re a correctional officer, you watch inmates’ all day. No. Part of that expectations is, you know, when you’re not doing —————– out on the floor out in the yard, you know, maybe making five inmate contacts today. And I’m just kind of spitballing here, but you’re doing this you’re doing cell checks you’re trying to gather intelligence. Patrol, right? If you’re a patrol officer, if you’re not on a call, that the agency has provided, hey this neighborhood’s getting hit with burglaries, in your free time go in there. So, that’s, I say that is, the agency or the company provides the framework for engagement. And then the employee steps up and do that engagement instead of just showing up to work. Go into your housing area, not doing anything all day, the bare minimum. So, it’s incumbent upon the agency and the leaders to say what’s expected of them, But I think more often than not, agencies shy away from that articulation. And just as much as mutual communication with the troops is just not a top-down thing, but it’s a communication with the people that are really doing the job and those that are on the accountability, and if that makes sense.
Audience Question: My agency recently went through a sudden change in management. We’re still recovering from the fallout. How do you create accountability in an already fragile environment?
Michael Goold: That’s not easy to do, because I very much believe that all of this, what we’re talking about, starts at the top, and there’s always change. There’s always going to be change, right? Chief of Police last three years. One of them asked, one of the offerings I have in my company is a new leader assimilation to help bridge the new leader with it, with the new team or organization and I facilitate that through a meeting. The other one, honestly, and this my Clifton Strength as Learner, but there’s a great book called The Advantage which talks it’s from Pat Lencioni. It’s organizational health. And it is incumbent on the leadership, the leadership team to get the why and what’s important and acceptable behavior and not acceptable behavior. And then you talk about a lack of trust. It’s incumbent, I don’t know who the new leader is and I’m happy to help them. But it’s incumbent upon them to create that trust and it’s got to come from the top through their actions and deeds.