Police Performance Evaluations: Increasing Engagement with Better Strategies

As opposed to the traditional approach to assessing performance—which can be stressful for everyone involved—police performance evaluations based on sincere, ongoing engagement build relationships, strengthen organizations, and incorporate the philosophies of readiness early intervention proactive leadership.

Even if you privately note positive and negative behavior in employees throughout the year, waiting to compile everything at annual review time can cause employees to view performance evaluations as a “laundry list” of their faults, putting them on the defensive.

As a proactive leader, you want your evaluations to have a very different impact: to be understood as healthy conversations where you and the employee are on the same side, helping them improve performance by providing clear and empathetic support.

For readiness-centered police agencies, the answer has been to initiate performance-related conversations with staff as needed year-round, complete with documentation. Annual evaluations are still given, but they’re the culmination of the data generated through the specific discussions over the previous year.

How to rethink police performance evaluations

Such a shift in your methods can be dramatic, but following these guidelines may make the adjustment go more smoothly.

Reframe performance evaluations as a continuous process, not an annual event

During formal and informal discussions at your workplace, make it clear that assessing performance isn’t about crossing the “finish line” of meeting expectations once a year.

Performance valuation is not an annual event. It’s an ongoing journey you’re all taking together toward a culture of excellence.

Stay focused on the true purpose of evaluations

Performance evaluations aim to improve performance and growth, whether we’re talking about your lowest- or highest-performing employees

Knowing that you’re working toward something positive, not punitive, can take some of the pressure off of the increased frequency of talking about performance.

Consistency plus transparency equals trust

Regular conversations are an opportunity to clearly communicate your expectations as well as to listen to what your staff has to say. Employees can go into evaluations knowing what to expect and know that reprimanding them is not the point.

When you explain that there will be a follow-up to your discussion, you can ask that they read and understand the documentation that you’ll provide.

Sharing your vision for a high-performing agency

Bring your employees’ perceptions into line with your greater mission and values. Invite your staff to reflect on how individual performance contributes to your organization’s workplace culture and your role in the community.

When you do so, they’re more likely to see performance-related discussions from that perspective—not as being singled out or badgered over things that don’t matter.

Benefits of ongoing engagement

Making frequent performance-related conversations the norm provides agency leaders with a number of valuable opportunities.

Problems can be managed immediately

Intervening early when negative behavior is identified keeps it from turning into a bigger issue that’s more difficult to address—and reinforces the idea that you’re attentive to individual staff members and serious about your expectations of them.

Successes can be celebrated in real time

Recognizing positive behaviors with your employees as quickly as possible is a powerful motivator for them to continue to excel. They’ll also be that much more likely to view the ongoing engagement model as legitimate, supportive, and helpful.

You’re developing your profession’s future leaders

As employees develop, many will climb the ladder into leadership positions ideally at your agency. By instilling the value of continuous engagement early in their careers, you’re ensuring that they’ll practice it in their own leadership strategies.

The data does the work

Through a comprehensive technology solution, the performance data attached to an employee is centralized, secure, and portable. You can compile relevant information about their strengths and areas for improvement, forward it to others as appropriate, and even send it with them if they leave your agency.

Your role as evaluator

Performance-related conversations are indeed the right place to communicate your expectations and hold employees accountable. But the success of any ongoing engagement strategy is ultimately up to you as a leader—and your responsibilities extend well beyond the one-on-ones you’re having with your staff.

As always, it is crucial to model the behaviors you want to see. No other indicator says as much about your leadership as how well you follow your own directives.

The new methods you adopt must also be consistent across the entire organization. When all employees see that ongoing engagement applies to everyone, regardless of rank or tenure, they’ll be more likely to feel respected, supported, and valued by your agency.

Learn how Acadis® can streamline your performance evaluation process and recordkeeping.

Posted on Dec 16, 2021