Edward Brown, M.S.
In LinkedIn responses to an article on employee motivation and incentivization within police departments, respondents said morale-building initiatives had to involve all parties, police leaders and officers. The results were contrary to employee motivational theories that place employee morale and productivity on the shoulders of organizational leaders.
Edward Brown, M.S., of Core Edge Police Professional Development provides answers to questions on the significance of joint morale building initiatives.
Q: In your interpretation of responses to morale building being a joint venture within police departments, how scientific was the article?
Brown: The study did not use the scientific method. Essentially, the unsolicited opinions of respondents served as a basis for a different way of looking at police morale. I was surprised that law enforcement employees did not place the onus of building morale solely on police leaders. This seems like a shift in the studies I’ve looked at in the last twenty years.
Q: If you had to make an educated guess, what would you attribute to this change in beliefs?
Brown: Off the cuff, I would say globalization, recession, and individualism have changed the conversation. The Internet, budget restraints, and rugged individualism have placed responsibilities on employees to become more active in organizational development. If employees are jumping ship for better opportunities, then it is logical that all parties have become free agents. Perhaps these factors have moved the U.S. economy closer to pure capitalism. The employer/employee relationship has become purely transactional. Each side gives according to the value received.
Q: How does this altered relationship fare with traditional employee motivation models?
Brown: It’s closer to the true nature of individuals. Each party acting in their own self-interest bargains for more equity. Police leaders can use this environment to begin the bargaining process during recruitment and hiring. By tying the self-interests of employees to departmental missions, employees are incentivized, based on their level of performance and contribution. The employee desiring to coast in his career would be absolved of justifying his low morale and productivity.
Q: How would this model be developed?
Brown: Ron Wheeler, president of Artifact Software, recommended a competency-based career development model where employees would have more control over their career plans. Police supervisors would lay out the criteria for specific opportunities by which a checklist would be developed between the parties. Advanced degrees, experience in specialized units, and a willingness to lead would serve as a basis for upward mobility or at least greater leadership opportunities. These new responsibilities would lead to more money, more time off, and greater leadership. Individual employees begin self-actualizing and the department gains dedicated and motivated personnel to further its mission.
Q: How would this model be instituted within police departments?
Brown: If you fail to systematize expected outcomes, they are less likely to come to fruition. Police departments have to create the dialogue and model from the recruiting and hiring phase into the police academy and into in-service training. The idea is to take away all employee excuses for personal and professional development that is equally available to all. By consistently hammering the career development initiative through all the “Touch Points” of employee involvement, the employee will either participate or remain content by inactivity. The downside to this initiative is that many employees will not choose to lead, grow, or expand. That’s okay. Low morale stems, in part, from the inability to see clear opportunities for growth and advancement. Even if employees do not exercise these initiatives, morale is maintained by the knowledge that they exist at the will and behest of the employee. Employees don’t only support what they help create, but what is available to them.
For more information on morale building strategies for your department, visit: The A-Team: How to Be a Top Police Department in Recruiting, Training & Retaining Employees. Available now at: