Sunday, August 1, 2010

Schadenfreude and Encouragement (part two of a two part series)

Nice job

Good stop

Wow, you did a great investigation

Great arrest...good work

Not much rocket surgery in there.

It’s a curious phenomenon, this idea that we could probably dramatically improve officer’s wellness by the simplest of habits, like verbal encouragement. But when we consider the fact that the ‘work environment’ (especially ‘the administration’) usually tops officer’s Gripe List, it’s clear we’re not doing such a good job.

We blast our supervisors and administrators for their lack of support, but those lower on the food chain aren’t exempt from their roles as encouragers. So what’s the significance of ‘encouragement’ for police officers?

This is not an area I need to reference research studies or my clinical experience. I want to talk about providing encouragement here because it’s very easy to do, it makes you (the encourager) feel good, and it improves the morale and overall wellness of those you encourage.

In child rearing, a basic principle is that you should seize any opportunity to encourage your child. “Wow, Tommy, your such a good [fill in the blank]!” As parents, we offer these words not randomly or disingenuously, but in response to a job well done. Encouragement is like watering a plant, or emotionally feeding a child.

In the same way, encouragement just plain makes people feel good about themselves. Cops have enough nitpickers, paper shufflers and ass kissers to deal with. By providing encouragement to others you neutralize the toxic air that seems to pervade police buildings.

You don’t need to be a supervisor to tell a fellow officer “good job!” And when you tell them “good job” tell them what about it was so good. Be specific. Management 101 tells us that folks are way more likely to continue doing a good job or even want to do a better job, after being complimented. Conversely, negative feedback, while intended to change behavior, doesn’t seem to work so well. Weird that so many supervisors and administrators haven’t figured this one out.

Since you’ve read this week’s blog you now know you have the power to think globally and act locally. Go ahead and tell someone they did a kick ass job, it won’t kill you.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Jeff,
    I do notice that so many people are afraid that being nice will lead to some kind of (emotional danger?) and I really don't see it.

    Plus, educated compliments add to a personal aura of authority. And to people's willingness to get on board when you have that huge situation. Bonus points if you use it as a training example--of the right thing to do. Or if you pass on a compliment: "X said you did a great (B). Have time to tell me how it went?"

    So, this post? It kicks ass.

    Ann T.