Effective communication is essential to any organization. When an organization is composed from several different shifts and multiple sections/divisions, like a law enforcement agencies are, it can be challenging to know if the philosophies and goals the leadership has crafted, for the organization, have worked their way into the mindsets of the men and women who turn those ideas into reality. How can a leadership team determine if their messages have successfully made its way through the agency? “Operation Dialog” might be one answer.
“Operation Dialog” is simple concept designed to ensure communication is actually flowing throughout the entire department. This is how it works: When an administrator has their on-call week they pick one officer to conduct two hour ride-a-long. The officer selected should be an officer the administrator does not regularly have an opportunity to interact with. Once the two meet up, the administrator shadows as the officer go about their daily business. It has been my experience, after the first five or so awkward minutes, conversation starts to flow and before anyone realizes it the two hours are up. The administrator then reports their observations and what they learned at the next staff meeting.
There are some “ground rules” needed to ensure the success of the “operation”.
Second: It is important the administrator not correct the officer unless they observe a gross violation, which is very unlikely to happen with an administrator sitting right next to the officer. The officer is going to be nervous enough about having the administrator with them. You don't want to make them feel like they are in the field training program all over again.
Third: If the employee has offered suggestions, be sure to make note of them. The administrator should bring forward any ideas or suggestion the employee has so the idea can be considered by staff. Obviously, not every idea is going to feasible, however, it has been my experience employees who are actually doing the work have valid input on how to improve the final product, work flow or training and tools needed.
With the introduction of Millennials into the work force, "Operation Dialog" can be very important to the organizational culture and job satisfaction of our employees. It allows leadership to determine if the philosophy of the department is reaching our front line. We get to see firsthand what equipment is needed and how officers utilize the equipment they have. It gives the men and women, who do the work, access to those responsible for decisions and allows them to make suggestion on how to improve efficiency. I believe you will find most of employees look forward to their turn to participate in the program.
“Operation Dialog” is one way to gage whether or not an agencies core values are making it to the men and women who are actually responsible for representing them. What creative ways has your organization utilized to improve communication? We would love to hear about them at www.alawenforcementjourney.com.