The Art of Delegation in Law Enforcement and Why You Should be Doing It
Law enforcement management is “the process of working with and through others to achieve organizational objectives in an efficient and ethical manner.” Dealing effectively with people is what management is all about. Because it is not efficient for one person to do all the work, good leaders delegate tasks and distribute the workload equitably. Organizational behavior research has revealed specific managerial behaviors and skills that are more likely to cultivate positive team performance and employee morale. Effective managers are able to influence team members to work together to accomplish team goals.
The key to effective law enforcement management is to work with and through team members to positively impact employee morale and team performance. By delegating tasks equitably and demonstrating specific managerial skills and behaviors, good leaders influence team members to work together. A couple of years ago our police department had an ongoing traffic problem caused by morning shift change at a local plant. As traffic leaving the plant merged onto the main roadway, impatient drivers would sometimes pass others recklessly on the shoulders in their mad dash to get home. To address the problem, the on-duty patrol supervisor each day was tasked with ensuring traffic was monitored during shift change to encourage workers to drive responsibly. To avoid conflict, one supervisor took it upon himself to monitor the traffic each morning. When asked, he explained that he would not ask his employees to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. He assumed that members of his team would resent the assignment, preferring to do “real police work” instead.
It is always a good idea for leaders to set the example and show employees they are able and willing to do the job. However, to use a sports analogy, one player can’t call the plays, block, hand-off, pass, catch, and carry the ball without help – it takes a team. While it may be effective for a supervisor to pitch in when needed, it is inefficient for him/her to be constantly tied down with work that belongs to others. If a supervisor is handling an employee’s work, who is doing the supervisor’s job in the meantime? Management is “the process of working with and through others to achieve organizational objectives in an efficient and ethical manner.” From an organizational behavior point of view, the main point of this definition is “working with and through others.” Like it or not, organized management boosts a team’s ability to function proficiently. Effective managers are able to influence team members to work together to accomplish team goals.
Dealing effectively with people is what management is all about. Organizational behavior research has revealed specific behaviors and skills shared by competent managers.
Clarify goals and objectives for everyone involved.
Encourage and solicit feedback and suggestions from all levels.
Look for ways to streamline processes so that work is accomplished as efficiently as possible.
Get the job done by investing time in team building, coaching and providing support.
Provide honest and constructive feedback.
Use schedules and deadlines to stay on track.
See to it that work is accomplished without interfering or being bossy.
Use accountability to ensure goals are met.
Empower and delegate responsibilities to others.
Recognize, reward, and reinforce desired performance.
Managers who master these skills are more likely to cultivate team performance and employee morale that is a cut above the rest.
Kinicki, A. & Kreitner, R. (2008). Organizational behavior: Key concepts, skills, & best practices, 3rd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill