This is a post in a series I am calling “First Line Supervision.” It is to help first line supervisors in the Law Enforcement world figure out how to effectively do their jobs better. You can read all of the posts in the series here. Any stories shared may not have happened at my current Department.
With the exception of one person at my department, I am the youngest employee. The only one younger has me beat by a few years. The funny thing is that we are both supervisors. I know there will come a time where I will be far out of the competition for the honor of being the youngest person at a department, and that is kind of what has spurred this post.
The next great idea in law enforcement will not come from our superiors. It will come from my generation of law enforcement. The older generations have already made their significant contribution to the police world. When a new idea is brought to the existing command staff, it is received with much reservation. We have all had people over us that see us trying something new and they say, “Well, that’s not going to work.”
Here’s an example: texting. I cannot tell you how many command staff level people I have spoken with (at several agencies) who constantly complain about their smartphone. Blackberry’s and Iphones are being given out to Chiefs and their staff like candy, and they complain about having to figure out the technology! Give that to someone in my age range and they will have it communicating with the radio system! Smartphones are a wonderful advancement of technology that can make police work easier. But it didn’t come from the last generation. It came from my generation, and what they mostly heard was, “That’s never going to work.”
Here’s where we have to be careful; we have to understand that those we supervise will be coming up with ideas that we don’t understand and we will be the ones saying, “That will never work.” If you’re a parent, I know this about you; you have played with one of your children’s toys and thought, “Man, I wish I had something like this when I was growing up.” You see, that idea came from a different generation than the one that designed our childhood toys. We have to be constantly aware that just because a “rookie” had the idea, doesn’t automatically mean that it is useless.
One day, WE will be the old dinosaurs with the nice offices upstairs, using technology we don’t understand, and hearing ideas that don’t make any sense because, “I never did it that way.” What kind of legacy do you want to leave? Don’t you want to be remembered as the kind of supervisor that listened and considered the ideas of the new guys? Are you OK with carrying on the same procedures that lead to all of your frustration? We can change that!
What is one idea that you have heard and thought, “That will never work!”? Leave a comment below.