Whether you wear stripes, bars, or stars on your shirt, the environment needed for open communication begins with you. Unfortunately, it is easy to become over-directive in our management styles when burdened with deadlines and our other “important” issues. With so much going on, who has time for idle chat, right? Well, it should be you. After all, if the manager/leader is too busy to take time to listen, then how can subordinates ever value listening as a leadership trait.

I have a coffee pot that sits in my office. I seldom ever use it. Instead, I get coffee from a pot that is shared with several others in the work area. “Why,” you ask. Because it gives me a reason to get away from my desk, go to an area where I will see people I work with, and start smalltalk…yes, smalltalk.

In order to initiate and sustain positive change, managers/leaders have to be able to get buy-in from those that do the job every day. To get buy-in, a manager/leader must first build trust. Trust starts by letting people know that you truly care about them. A good manager/leader should always be interested in how someone’s day is going, and if there is anything they can do to assist.

People are naturally emotional. If someone’s day started out bad before they came to work, then it will most likely continue to be bad at work. This may lead to loss of productivity, or poor work quality throughout the rest of the day. How many rudeness complaints could agencies avoid with this simple philosophy? But what about lost productivity by walking so far for coffee you ask. Think of it this way. We like to say that our people are our biggest asset. Then think of them as you would any other asset…such as your 401k. By managing your 401k properly, and by making deposits at regular intervals, you ensure the best return possible. People are no different. A good manager/leader invests his time and energy in his people, and the rewards of trust and loyalty are overwhelming. Your taking time to allow someone to vent may set them on a course for a better day. Cheerfulness is contagious.

I often hear the term, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” I twist it around a little…”it’s not who you know, but who you know that likes you.” You can know lots of people, but if they all think you are difficult to be around, they are less likely to offer help when you need it. They will eventually disengage and only perform at minimum levels. Law enforcement needs and deserves people who strive to go above and beyond…the community deserves it too.

So, get up and go get a cup of coffee already!

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