Change is something that affects everyone. A change no matter how big or how small impacts people differently. Change is something that is personal, because each person feels differently regarding the change (Duck, 1993). Organizations need to balance the organizational needs and the continuity of the organization when thinking of any change. The organization needs to focus on areas where the change is most likely to succeed. Most of the time, organizations do not manage change appropriately, which creates problems (Coulson, 2009).
“Change for change’s sake should be avoided” (Coulson, 2009, para. 25). Leaders and managers need to focus on how much change any one person, shift or organization can handle. The problem is that some CLEO’s change policy in response to one incident, which does not translate to best practices in law enforcement. The CLEO’s should focus on the one officer that was the problem and provide corrective action or mentoring.
If it is determined that change is needed, the CLEO and the organization should be aware that change does not occur overnight. The foundation for change needs to be in place for a long time prior to the change being implemented. “People need to be motivated, prepared, and equipped to achieve the changes they are expected to bring about” (Coulson, 2009, para. 34).
It must be understood that people can only learn so fast. I recently had a discussion with a Minneapolis police officer who indicated that he was in narcotics/investigations for about 5 years. After his time in narcotics, he went back to patrol. He used to work on MDC and the police cars now all had HTML/Micro Soft supported computers that provided for CAD and report writing databases.
This officer should have been afforded the opportunity to re-assimilate back into patrol. This was just a change in technology not a change in law or policy. This employee was not overwhelmed. Police supervisors and CLEOs need to understand that if they reduce stress regarding the change by providing the justification and rationale for the change, they can deal with a lot of objections and stress. Additionally, if the CLEO gets buy in from the organization, then the change will be something that is sustained and long lasting, not just a fly-by-night policy change.
Matt Stiehm was born and raised in Minnesota. He received an Educational Doctorate from Argosy University, where the focus of his research was campus safety and security. He has a Masters Degree of Criminal Justice from Central Missouri State University, with his final paper which focused on the investigation of child abuse and finally a Bachelors of Science from Wayne State College, Nebraska. He has served as a police officer in three states (CA, MN and NE), he keeps current on law enforcement trends. He currently is a member of ILEETA, MN Infragard, FBI LEEDS, an Associate Member of the IACP and the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association. If you would like to contact him you can send an email to email@example.com
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Coulson-Thomas, C. (2009). Leading and managing change. Management Services, 53(1), 31-37.
Duck, J. (1993). Managing Change: The Art of Balancing. Harvard Business Review, 71(6), 109-118.
Heifetz, R. A., & Laurie, D. L. (2001). The Work of Leadership. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 131-141.