Thin Blue Line


Police Line (c) R Dennison June 2013

Police Line (c) R Dennison June 2013

Job satisfaction is important for most people, whether that is happiness for 40 hours a week, or during their shifts spread over a nine day fortnight.  If one’s goal is job satisfaction and that goal has been attained the world is a sunnier place.  Perhaps one might even say customers are satisfied interacting with happy workers, who in turn are able to enjoy life outside work.

Many people are not that lucky in their work.  According to its website there will be more than 31,000 officers and recruits in the Metropolitan Police Service in 2013/14.  From the customers’ perspective their mission to deliver Total Policing surely depends, in part, on job satisfaction and on all of the staff respecting the public and each other.

An easy milestone to reach would be ensuring the organisational culture support a goal in which ‘colleagues respect one another’.  Kevin Maxwell’s situation suggests there is still some distance to go before that milestone is reached.

The former detective has been successful in pursuing Employment Tribunal cases against the Met, after raising concerns having experienced some colleagues’ racist and homophobic behaviour.

I guess large institutions contain diverse views and there are management challenges involved in establishing a basic set of acceptable language standards.

It may seem a small detail, given the hugely challenging operational agenda the Met delivers.  Yet getting the details right may make organisational cohesion and corporate delivery a little easier in the long run.


Come As You Are

An empty Johari window, with the "rooms&q...

An empty Johari window, with the “rooms” arranged clockwise, starting with Room 1 at the top left (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If my friends working in the public and private sectors are to be believed, there is a crying need for some coaching for key leaders so they are better equipped to win the hearts, minds and commitment of their staff at every level in their organisations.


Seemingly there are key leaders out there who think that – despite headcount reductions and pay freezes – X per cent fewer staff will remain motivated when pressed to produce ever greater outputs.


Looking back at some old material on inspired leadership I was struck by the attitude shown by Frank Douglas, in charge of Human Resources in Transport for London (TfL).  Interviewed in July 2010 by People Management magazine the African-American ex-pat noted:


“In an age of austerity, when you can’t pay people more you have to focus on career development


He goes on to make the point that the first winner of television series ‘The Apprentice’, Tim Campbell, used to be a marketing manager at TfL.  The organisation should therefore be asking “How many more Tim Campbell’s do we have out there?”


Interestingly, Frank’s career trajectory also neatly illustrates the principle that the drive for development comes from within.  He says:


“The US is a highly mobile society, where people vote with their feet…I’ve had a self-managed career.  I aspired to be head of HR and took the jobs that would give me experience towards that goal’.  He adds towards, the end of the article, ‘the challenge of diversity is about understanding people and managing conflict”.


He might have added that people are complex, and that the issues of diversity affecting them may not be immediately obvious (for instance a disability may not be observable; their religion might also not be noticeable).  The principles behind the Johari Window (in which some aspects of an individual’s identity are not visible to others) are applicable here.


Coincidentally, in July 2011 People Management magazine took a look at sexual orientation in the context of diversity leadership.  David Shield’s, the director of workplace programmes for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organisation Stonewall notes that:


Organisations have generally become more diverse, but you don’t often see gay people in senior teams, just like you don’t see gender or ethnicity in diversity at top levels …Women or ethnic minority men may fear a double dose of prejudice…which means that lesbians or black gay men are more inhibited about coming out than white, gay men”.


If that trend is indicative then there is still some way to go towards establishing fully equal and diverse workplaces.


I suspect that ensuring the employment environment has little or no scope for inequality establishes a foundation that is good-for-business.  In that climate a coaching strategy that encourages staff to develop their careers in fulfilling directions would deliver productivity benefits to the organisation and self-esteem benefits to the individual.  Happy staff are productive staff.


Underpinning the positive environment and the development strategy should be recognition of the value of the whole person, regardless of their age, disability, ethnicity, gender, orientation, or religion.


Organisations are missing a trick if they do not recognise the distinctive contributions that their diverse workforce already makes.  Those employees have real potential to develop further, in a supportive environment.   If more managers were keen to acquire coaching skills they might just be the catalyst to speed that development up.