Better Teams are made from Better People

The police service prides itself on how its staff works in high-performing teams, but my own experience suggests that these teams are often a loose set of professional individuals with conflicting priorities who are occasionally brought together in a different order to deal with whatever comes along. Mostly very competent professionals, but the teams are very ad-hoc.

Murder? Grab whoever is available regardless of experience, knowledge, specialism or location, this is important.

Of course it is, and of course you need to do that. But it’s Gareth Southgate like waiting for the final of the Euros and calling Ole Gunnar Solskjær (yes, I had to look it up) on the Saturday afternoon asking who’s available that is English. Not efficient, and its effectiveness is partly blamed on luck.

That situation was imposed on the service until they started establishing Major Incident Teams, but there is still that “un-abandon ship!” element to any incident.

To be blunt, the fact that we deal so well with this approach is a testament to how good we are, but the existence of MITs is also testament to how good/better we can be.

I confess I don’t have the answer, but I have a suggestion. Make sure everyone is good at the basics, and when you find someone who is exceptional at something, let them do that while teaching others, even if only by the traditional osmosis created by them working together for a bit.

When is say good at the basics, I mean really good. Making sure that statements are the best they can be, or training and monitoring those whose statements evidence excessive, lazy brevity and disorganised thinking. Establishing a successful interviewing method informed by PEACE and drawing circles, but where flair and ‘inquisitive initiative’ is applauded.

You see, I can’t help thinking that too much store is set on ticking procedural boxes and creating drones, and not as much as could be on rewarding, encouraging (and even forgiving) initiative and creativity within the legal and practical boundaries of police work. Not to mention artificial bars to doing a good job, like removing PNC access from front-line staff, thus increasing the workload for the Control Room and delaying criminal investigations when the one with access isn’t there.

As to your own responsibility as a team member, it is to be the most supportive and well-informed person you can be in respect of what you do, which in turn creates an obligation to research and explore what you do, at a deeper level than your training permitted when you got it. I know I became good in a particular area (tracing and arresting wanted people) and went on to be a source of learning (and a paid author/trainer😉) as a result. Which saved other people time, improved results for the team, and stopped all this ‘why has it taken so long to come to court’ cr4p we read about in the press, these days.

And forgive the ‘banging on a bit’ bit, but learning how to manage your workload can be a major support for your efforts to become a better employee, manager or leader than you already are.

If you want to get better at something specialist, find, buy and study the book, training and other people that have the knowledge required. That last bit is actually called Modelling and is a great way to learn as long as it isn’t the only way, and the person teaching it is someone trustworthy!

I recall a few people who had to overcome the training their tutors provided……

If you all try to be the BEST one in a team, you will all benefit.

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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