A new mindset about the framework of your organization is a helpful foundation for creating an accountable and compliant culture.
Think of your agency as a living, moving organism. As a leader, you are the head, and your personnel are the various organs, parts and systems within the body.
When even a minor part – say, the pinky – is not functioning, the entire body suffers from inefficiency or unsafety. This puts the entire agency in jeopardy, police trainer Randy Sutton writes in PoliceOne.
“Every little thing in an organism is important; every member of an organization is important and a factor in healthy functionality. Thus when even one officer or agent within an agency commits a breach of trust, the whole organization suffers.”
Lead by example
When it comes to creating an accountable, ethical culture, make sure you practice what you preach. What good is your pursuit of accountability for compliance if you don’t “walk the walk” yourself?
Along the same lines, how will your team respect your policies and discipline if you don’t abide by them yourself? Sutton says it’s highly important to lead by example. “There is no doubt that the entire ‘ethical personality; of an agency is determined by the head of that organization and, accordingly, by those who the leader has chosen to surround himself or herself with.”
Sutton also recommends choosing leaders who share your organization’s values – ultimately, people your officers will respect.
“If, upon appointment or election, the chief or sheriff selects men or women who are perceived as competent, fair and ethical, the entire organization, as a body, will respect the decisions made on their behalf and will be optimistic as to how these decisions will affect their professional, even personal, lives.”
It is essential that administrative staff truly and decisively “walk the walk” ethically, if not morally.
If they don’t, lower ranking personnel, when facing discipline for their transgressions, will view any punishment as hypocritical and as having no value.
Create a culture of pride
If you want your officers respond positively to your accountability efforts, create a place where they are proud to work. Ultimately, you want your officers to respect themselves.
With this sense of pride, they will be more likely to respect you, one another, and those whom they serve. Sutton says pride in the workplace starts with understanding the importance of one’s profession.
“It begins with each one of us realizing that we are important not only as individuals and as members of a noble profession but also in how we play a vital role in the lives of others. Once we accept that fundamental truth about ourselves, we need to look at our colleagues and coworkers and regard them with the same respect.
“Ultimately, it’s a belief in what one stands for and pride, of the healthy, expansive sort, that keeps a person from dishonoring themselves and their profession.”