As a lieutenant, what steps will you take to improve the morale within your command?
Among the many oral board questions for police that may be asked, morale is a common topic. Here is how I would answer an oral board question regarding police morale.
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Police Morale Oral Board Answer Transcript
“In order for me to be successful as a lieutenant I know that I need to rely on the individuals within my command and that includes the supervisors, officers and civilian personnel. The more effective they are in meeting their responsibilities, the more effective we will be as a team. The critical piece to being successful here will be the morale of these individuals. I know that if their morale is high the likelihood of them performing at a higher level is enhanced. Conversely, if their morale is low, I can expect that their performance level will be at a lower level than would otherwise be possible. Therefore morale is something that I will pay close attention to and an area where I recognize it is critically important for me to have a positive impact.
When I speak of morale I speak about the collective emotion of individuals and I recognize that that emotion can be positive, negative, or neutral. I also recognize that morale can be fluid and it responds to the perceptions and interpretations of observations and events. By recognizing and acting upon my responsibility to positively impact morale within my command I can be a counter force to harmful interpretations.
I do need to be reasonable; it is unrealistic that as a lieutenant I will be able to positively affect the morale of everyone in the organization. However, for those who report to me directly, I am confident that I will have a significant impact. This will all boil down to my effectiveness and engagement as a leader with those within my command.
As a leader I need to be consistently professional. All personnel who report to me should be able to look at the behaviors that I demonstrate and realize that those are the behaviors that are to be emulated. Therefore it’s critically important that my behaviors are aligned with the chief’s direction and the department’s rules and regulations. Any inconsistency on my part in this area runs the risk of sending a mixed message. Consistency however, breeds certainty.
Next I will hold high expectations for all personnel within my command. Low expectations or satisfaction with the status quo can breed complacency. High expectations, however, create stretch goals that when met have the positive consequence of job satisfaction. Creating an environment of high expectations and job satisfaction will go hand in hand with increased morale.
Third, I will stay engaged with the personnel under my command. While I will assure the integrity of the chain of command for decision making, for information sharing I will create an atmosphere of approachability and openness. My goal will be effective two-way communication with my personnel that has them believing they are informed and that they have a voice. When it comes to decision making, I will apply internal procedural justice to advance trust through a process built on fairness.
I believe that consistently applying these three critical leadership behaviors will result in my personnel feeling valued and engaged; two components that will increase the likelihood of high morale among the personnel within my command.”