5 Requirements to Build a Healthy Organization
How do you build a healthy organization from the ground up? Moreover, how do you restore an existing one that has been demolished? There are five requirements if the organization seeks health.
While constructing, I am not talking about physical buildings or logistics. Rather, I want to look at the relational investments that make great police agencies using architecture as a metaphor.
Strategies to accomplish objectives in furtherance of organizational goals are necessary for agency health. These goals help achieve elements of the department vision and mission statement(s); something that should be in place so everyone knows what the target looks like and whether they’re hitting it.
Yet there are overlooked values that need to be part of the playbook if the agency is going to hit on all cylinders. A department meeting its objectives and goals, but possessing a workforce that is unhappy and disgruntled is not a healthy organization.
So just as every baseball team needs to focus on fundamentals when returning to spring training each year, let’s spotlight some of the basics to achieve organizational health.
1. Foundation = Trust
A building is worthless without a solid foundation, and a police agency is no different. The foundation is trust. This foundational value needs to be present vertically; from officer up to chief and back down again.
Moreover, for the foundation to be intact then trust needs to saturate vertical elements of the organization as well; such as the records bureau, property room, crime lab, etc.
In your organization, does trust exist? Why or why not?
2. Walls = Honesty
There is no better way to establish trust within a department than to deploy honesty. While this seems to be a no-brainer, the straight-talk in contemporary conversations is rather crooked. They are filled with hidden agendas and personal aspirations.
When the agency is walled with frankness and candor, then people working in this environment can be certain where the boundaries are placed.
Furthermore, when honesty becomes an expectation rather than a suggestion, details that construct the framework is solid and conjoined to the foundation.
At your agency, does honesty walk the hallways? Why or why not?
3. Roof = Truth
You can argue with it, disagree about it, and hide from it, but in the end, truth prevails. So why do so many people spin it, reveal half of it, and ignore it when it doesn’t favor their ambition?
Because people building personal-kingdoms are intimidated by it!
Without truth, the roof is constructed of material that will not withstand a storm. And bad weather is a certainty sooner or later.
Is truth practiced within your department? Why or why not?
4. Décor = Teamwork
Leather couches and solid mahogany desks might look pretty, but if the color schemes don’t match the granite counter tops and hardwood flooring then décor clashes.
Yes, I know that most police agencies are not decorated with these costly items, but my point is this; even All Stars need complimentary team members to achieve victory.
Police work is not an individual sport. It requires teamwork. The department needs everyone rowing in the same direction if they want to excel.
Organizational objectives in order to accomplish goals should take priority over individual achievements. But do they? I know that is contrary to the belief system of many people, but the sum is always greater than its parts.
Does teamwork exist within your work element? Why or why not?
5. Landscape = Community Service
When a police agency tries to landscape the grounds—offer community service—it is compromised without the foundation of trust, the walls of honesty, the roof of truth, or the décor of teamwork firmly in place.
With the community service offered by your department, is it compromised or strengthened by the presence or absence of trust, honesty, truth, and teamwork? Does it work in some places while it fails in others? Why?
What I’ve just described is reverie—a daydream. As a matter of fact, people are probably wondering if I ingested some hallucinogens along the way. But what is wrong with dreaming about a better work environment by exercising some basic core values? These are principles that every agency “claims” they have, yet people snicker in the hallways and can provide a thousand examples how these standards are routinely violated.
What I’ve described is a vision that leaders of character and integrity should strive to achieve. I understand no one is perfect and there will be bumps in the road, but if you set the bar low you’re sure to achieve it. So why not take some basics values and be sure to inculcate them into the work culture through constant reinforcement, thus raising the bar with these standards?
So would you rather elevate standards to improve the organization or be satisfied with under-achievement and the status quo?
We’ve all heard about the various leadership styles—autocratic, laissez faire, democratic, participative, etc.
However, I believe you can generally categorize leaders into one of three camps:
- NOTA (None of the above)
The transformational leader inspires others to greatness. He or she will motivate people to perform beyond their normal capabilities.
The transactional leader knows how to enact logistics to fulfill the inspiration. He or she is a technically sound tactician worth following.
A person who is NOTA cannot inspire others or fulfill technical tasks. This is not a leader, but rather someone who is simply “in charge.” Although it rarely occurs, he or she should resign the leadership role and return to the basic job function.
I cannot tell you much about the real Scottish revolutionary figure William Wallace, but the character depicted by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart provided some fantastic transformational and transactional leadership qualities.
“Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage,” said Wallace/Gibson. “I know you can fight, but it’s our wits that make us men.”
Not only did he inspire others (transformational leadership), he led them into battle with the ultimate goal of freedom (transactional).
Every person has emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. These requirements overlap at the core of our existence. The work we perform and the environment in which we operate plays a major role in fulfilling these needs.
As an employee you intuitively know this. If you’re the boss you contribute or detract from each person experiencing job satisfaction.
If you supervise no one other than yourself, it is your duty to exercise trust, honesty, truth, and teamwork as best as possible within your agency.
For those who supervise or command troops, it is your moral and ethical obligation to be trustworthy, honest, and truthful. Moreover, you are part of the team, so your participation in teamwork is imperative—whatever that looks like.
Yet more importantly, commanders need to create a vision where people want to exercise these values in their work. If they don’t see it at the command level, don’t expect them to hurdle a high-bar that is set low.
Finally, if you really want to take the temperature of your organization, ask the questions previously posed in this article:
- In your organization, does trust exist? Why or why not?
- At your agency, does honesty walk the hallways? Why or why not?
- Is truth practiced within your department? Why or why not?
- Does teamwork exist within your work element? Why or why not?
- With the community service offered by your department, is it compromised or strengthened by the presence or absence of trust, honesty, truth, and teamwork? Does it work in some places while it fails in others? Why?
The answers to these questions will be enlightening for all who wish to improve their public service by creating a healthier work environment.