Brief Backwards – Put your Team before the Organisation

That’s a title that most managers would consider an anathema to good policing, but it really isn’t a threat to good order and effectiveness. In fact, I would argue it will enhance effectiveness big time. I shall explain.

The traditional operational briefing process starts with what’s new and needs attention, followed by some justified sighing and pleading on the part of the team whose members have just had yesterday’s priorities stamped on by today’s new priorities. This displeasure can be exacerbated if the teams are subject to different leaders every day, as I know some CID teams can be – DS Smith does things that way, but today DS Brown is team leader and she does things another way. It is an unfortunate fact of life that despite all the management training people are (not) given, there is a tendency, an unconscious bias (ooh, buzzword) towards decisions that favour some over others. But that’s not why you came.

I have a suggestion. Instead of leading with the bad news, open with a desire to see what the workload already is. When the team assembles, whether face to face or over Teams (what was wrong with Zoom?), don’t start with what is happening and needs attention – ask the team what they are dealing with and what their needs are. This has two effects.

Perhaps the most important, the team feels that its needs have been taken into consideration whatever happens next. That has a massive psychological benefit. People who are heard, listen. They feel so much better having been heard that they will then actively help to resolve the oncoming storm.

Which is the second benefit. Once people have been able to air their needs they become responsive to the organisation’s needs. Of course, the organisation could have demanded attention – but by identifying and acknowledging the teams needs first, the organisation engenders the use of patience, understanding, initiative and positivity by the team – and they start solving the prioritisation problem that has been presented.

In effect – and you’ll be amazed if you try it – the work on today’s priorities gets done in better humour and more effectively, while the team works its priorities around the organisations and BOTH get the appropriate amount of attention.

Just by swapping the order of attention from us to you, to you then us. Same, even better results, and happier team members.

Or you can just take the short cut, make your demands and then wonder why you spend so much time chasing people up for their failure to do the things your re-prioritisation method prevented them from doing.

I read a lot of LinkedIn posts about putting people first. I notice that a lot of policing professionals are on LinkedIn. I assume that they look at it now and then and read all about how putting your staff first is the Branson Way (Covey did it first) and happy staff create better results. Then, in the interests of efficiency, they make urgent demands that are not necessarily urgent, and could be requests if they just used their language and patience.

I had bosses like that, men and women who were leaders as much as they were managers, who got the organisations’ priorities done while recognising and allowing for the fact that, the very day before, they’d produced demands that their team members were still needing time to work on.

Now, if I can just convince the CPS to think along these lines….

For more on this idea, buy Police Time Management for £12.99 at Amazon. 300 A4 pages for that price…… beats Blackstone’s.

Published by policetimemanagement

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

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