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Video Script 2 – September 15, 2020

Hello. I am Dennis Bowman, President of Public Safety Specialists Group.

In this segment I will explore how leadership can positively influence the change process and encourage employees to participate and better accept proposed change.

Leaders must first understand that employees need to see the value in proposed change before they can or will accept it.

If they don’t see value in new ideas, structural change, or changes in operational procedures, etc. they will most likely resist and become unwilling to work toward doing anything new, even though it may be an improvement in the way things are done.

Leadership has the opportunity to influence and provide direction and vision for the entire organization and the employees.  But it is important that leaders don’t become so committed to what they’re wanting to change that they ignore opportunities for input and collaboration from the rank and file

Sometimes, the proposed change is revolutionary or unplanned and it appears that there is not time to get input. It is still vital to make time to listen to your employees.

One strategy for gaining buy-in is to bring together a small but representative sample of employees from your various work units, divisions, commands, etc., to ask them questions about their ideas and views on how to improve operations as it effects their particular sphere of duties and responsibilities.

Inviting participation in an environment in which you are honestly soliciting input will result in recommendations that are entirely consistent with a team concept and in the interest of the department.

I encourage departments to form focus groups representative of the department’s structure, such as, senior management, mid-management, and first-line personnel.

As you allow focus groups to speak they will generally identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as they see them from their various perspectives.

After each focus group, it is important to review what participants have shared, how their views are similar and different and how they may vary based on their rank in the department. These insights can provide strategies for addressing issues.

Here is a real example of what can happen:

During a consultation visit for a sheriff’s department I used several focus groups to elicit employee views on strengths and weaknesses of the department.

This department consisted of about eighty sworn deputies and the same approximate number of civilian workers.

During one of the focus group sessions, a sergeant with  about twenty-seven years of experience, close to retirement, spoke up and said that this was the very first time in his entire career that anyone had ever asked him to provide input, not only for his particular unit, but for the entire department!

For this Sheriff’s Department, they had missed opportunities to improve their systems and working conditions by never having asked for input.

In this case, an employee with nearly 3 decades of experience and insights could have retired without sharing any of those insights with anyone simply because he had never been asked.

To me, allowing input is one of the most effective strategies that can be used to improve morale and organizational performance.

The strategic planning process is another area in which focus groups can provide great help. For a strategic plan to emerge that is meaningful for the department, it must include input from people at every level of the department.

Any method to embrace input and collaboration, and incorporate ideas and recommendations into a systematic process for operational purposes, will contribute to the success of any type of an organization or its units.

Vision/mission statements, goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, action steps, measures of success, all serve as an effective model for strategic planning.

Again, promote leadership principles within your workforce and encourage members to engage in collaborative, innovative, and participatory ways, not only for performance improvements, but for the overall health of the organization.

As you plan for change in your department, it is also important to think about the leaders at all levels of supervision and management.

Focus groups can help better understand both whether you have the right leaders and more importantly, do they have the authority commensurate with their responsibilities to actually lead.

I’m Dennis Bowman, President of Public Safety Specialists Group.  Feel free to reach out to us for support and assistance.

Thank you for joining me.

Stay Safe!