6 Tips For Newly Promoted Officers
Perhaps no other time in your career in emergency services more challenging than the transition from “Buddy to Boss” EXCEPT maybe when you are an experienced officer moving to a new group.
Clarify your mission: Make sure that the central mission of your group is clear. This should be the mission statement for your agency, as long as it is well crafted. Everything that you and your crew do should center around this. This will help you identify, prioritize, select, and achieve.
Define roles and boundaries: Make sure that the necessary roles of your group are defined and filled. You may have limited power in this regard, but it will help you focus on the relationships in your team and your leadership of the crew. Even if you cannot strictly define and fill roles, you must absolutely define and enforce boundaries. This is especially important during your transition from the role of team-mate to team-leader.
Solicit group member expectations and aspirations: Do not simply wonder or assume what group members expect of you and the group itself. Explicitly ask in preparation for the next step.
Set group expectations: This happens in several stages. Consider the expectations of your crew in line with your own expectations for the group. Revise the expectations that you have of the whole group so that they, wherever possible, align with the expectations and aspirations of individual crew members. While this may not be possible in all cases, it is crucial to make your best effort in order to get your crew members on-board with the goals of the group as a whole. They have to see how their own goals line up with the group goals. Once you have refined these group expectations, make them clear to the entire crew.
Provide positive and negative feedback: For individual group members or for the group as a whole, when they fail to meet, when they meet, or when they exceed defined expectations provide positive and negative feedback (not just verbal) that is immediate, has a clear warning beforehand, is consistent, and impersonal (McGregor’s Red Hot Stove Rule).
Maintain open communications: Don’t fall into the new leader trap of issuing proclamations rather than actively pursuing communications. Even if you are heavily task-focused, proclamations will isolate you from the group whereas the communications will help ensure that you not only receive feedback but also that you foster the relationships necessary to maintain the group.