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The Greasy Pole Police Promotion by Steve Cooper

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The aim of a promotion selection process is to fill positions in the police service and to promote the best available people. These are usually individuals whose depth and breadth of preparation underpins hard-won success.

The Free Dictionary describes the ‘greasy pole’ as being used to talk about someone’s attempts to reach a more successful position in their career. You don’t hear the term so much today but economic and political drivers acting on the police service are constantly changing the landscape, not least in the field of promotions.

A mix and match approach with selection processes across various forces currently includes supervisor recommendations, applications, psychometric tests, presentations and interviews.

Whichever system is in place some people will always be dissatisfied. There is no one best system, but achieving a promotion is a significant challenge. It should be. It’s a competition, with many more qualified individuals than vacancies.

Preparing for nine months leading up to a competitive Sergeants selection process (involving an application stage, a situational judgment test and an interview) was the approach taken by one of my successful clients.

“It’s a very hard process, but so worth it if you are willing and able to put the time and work in”.

Entering a promotion selection process can be like purchasing a ticket for a roller coaster ride, with highs of elation and lows of dejection. The experience of many who embark on this aspect of career progression is that there are no guarantees. Not everyone succeeds. Resilience and perseverance are called for. Some individuals repeat the same things whilst expecting a different outcome. The right support at the right time can make a significant difference to how you approach a promotion as this client discovered.

“I’ve tried for 9 years and sat 7 boards. This year I fully embraced your masterclass and passed”

Different routes exist and promotion is not referred to as the greasy pole for nothing. Some people believe the promotion is owed to them, a reward for past performance. This is a mistake. Promotion is awarded to those offering the best future for the organisation and you may need an overwhelming appetite to advance in what is a highly competitive environment.

Despite all this, promotions still tick over as does policing. With some hard smart work, you too can achieve promotion success. A continuous professional development plan, taking responsibility for your learning and a positive attitude are vital considerations if you want to be ‘match fit’ for opportunities that may arise. A clear focus on working towards your goal is required and solid preparation is the key to success.

If you choose promotion as your future it’s wise to be prepared today.

To download a free guide for Promotion Frameworks and 7 Things Promotion Interview Boards also look for click here now or to download Steve Coopers Sergeant Promotion Toolkit please click here!.

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Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

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A determined Sergeant inspired me to write this blog. He first made contact with me because he had been unsuccessful in previous attempts at promotion to Inspector in his own force. I’ll come back to this later…

There’s no easy route to acquiring or developing good interview skills. It takes time, perseverance and commitment. The good news is that you can massively enhance your chances of success with some smart working. Because of the promotion processes are a competition, it means you must become the best version of you.

A strong performance in your promotion interview is likely to be underpinned by your ability to talk comfortably: Talking about the role you aspire to, your workforce mission, vision and shared values; together with enthusiasm and a clear idea of what you will do with your new stripes or pips going forward.

 Begin With the End in Mind

 “Visualise this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.” – Robert Collier

To make it easy for the panel to pick you from others, aim to be so good that they can’t ignore you. This is in your power. Take a few moments to visualise your promotion interview. Ask yourself these questions and write down your responses.

  1. What impression do I want to leave the panel with when I leave the room?
  2. What do I want them to think?
  3. What needs to happen for that to be the case?

Visualising success ahead of your promotion opportunity helps lay a mental foundation for managing your interview responses. Thinking through potential questions and responses develops self-awareness and incrementally builds your personal confidence. However, it’s not a one-off. You need to work at this over time.

 Your Attitude

“You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each day and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better” – John Wooden

Your attitude is a hypothetical construct that represents your degree of like or dislike for something. It is your ‘state of readiness’ to respond in a characteristic way to a concept or situation. It is the dynamic element in your behaviour, the motive (reason) for activity e.g. Why are you doing this?

The good news is that your attitude is a choice. It can be changed through persuasion. It is generally a positive or negative view of a thing or event. Always remember that you are free to choose your attitude.

“The last of human freedoms is the power to choose one’s attitude to a given set of circumstances” – Victor Frankl

What attitude have you chosen?

 Growth Mindset

 “When the world says give up,hope whispers, tryone more time.” – Unknown

Have a look at the differences between fixed and growth mindsets, as described by the psychologist Carol Dweck.

The following also lays the concept out nicely in a graphic designed by the theorist Nigel Holmes.

Dweck states that a passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even when it is not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. Individuals with the growth mindset find success in doing their best, in learning and improving.

What do you recognise in your own mindset?

A Triple Whammy…

“Some people don’t like competition because it makes them work harder, better” – Drew Carey

Aspiring officers who have previously experienced failure often contact me. As a coach/mentor, I believe in the potential of every individual.

I mentioned earlier that I had been inspired to write this blog by a Sergeant, who had been unsuccessful in promotion selection processes in his force. We spoke on the phone and it was clear that he still possessed a positive attitude.

Although he was disappointed by previous setbacks, his growth mindset, self-belief and reserves of resilience were all factors that made him want to try again. But this time he decided to approach things slightly differently. I’ll let him tell the story:

“I applied for promotion three times with my force and was unsuccessful each time. From wanting to give up and thinking it may not be for me, I attended the Rank Success promotion Masterclass, where I got to grip with how and what I needed to do. I tried one final time applying for mutiple advertised Inspector vacancies in three different forces. Every force had different application processes (A “Why Me & Why Now” Letter, an online application and a standard application).

“I was successful in all three paper sifts that followed and was invited to interviews/assessment centres. Rank Success eBooks helped me prepare for my presentations, briefings and formal interviews.”

I went from 3 Failures to 3 Passes!

“I passed all three-promotion boards with flying colours coming top in two processes. A choice of three forces! I wish I could take all the positions offered but have to decide where is my career best suited!”  –

Deepak recently (Passed THREE Inspectors processes at once!)

What happened for this to be the outcome?

When you begin with the end in mind,‘ Be so good they can’t ignore you, becomes a mindset. It raises the bar from day one. I encourage all my clients to aim that high.

Successful candidates often tell me that they put more effort, time and commitment into preparing for their interview than anything they have ever prepared for before. As a result, they feel more aware and confident. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard!

Ask yourself  How much do I want to succeed?

Am I prepared to do the necessary work to perform to the best of my ability when it matters?

Life is a series of choices. You can choose your mindset. You can choose to start now.

Wherever you are on your promotion journey, Rank Success can help you prepare effectively. Why not download a FREE guide & start today?

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Promotion

If You Don’t Believe in Yourself, Why Should Anyone Else?

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 “Your success depends mainly on what you think of yourself and whether you believe in yourself  William J. H. Boetcker 

 Our relationships, abilities and possibilities are influenced by our beliefs about them. These beliefs can be empowering but amongst them we all have some limiting beliefs and thoughts. 

 These are the powerful thoughts that limit action, that stop you moving forward. Some are as a result of social conditioning, often from childhood and act as your very own filter of reality, affecting how you see and experience the world. These limiting or negative beliefs are also invisible. They hold you back from achieving your true potential. 

 As the owner of these thoughts and beliefs you can choose to get rid of them. You can do this through raising your awareness and prove them false. Sometimes described as stinking thinking, here are some examples. 

  • All the wrong people get promoted

  • It’s a waste of time

  • I don’t have enough experience

  • It’s not a fair process

  • There’s no point in me applying

  • I’m too old

  • Others have a better chance than me

  • I’m not good enough

  • I’m too young

  • I don’t have the time

  • There are no opportunities

 You can identify and acknowledge your self-limiting or negative beliefsBeing completely honest with yourself is a starting point. Everyone has them. At least one! 

 Write them down. Make them visible.

Out In The Open

“Positive thinking won’t let you do anything, but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will” Zig Ziglar

Once they are out in the open, one way of dealing with these thoughts is to reframe them. Reframing is a technique for altering negative or self-defeating thought patterns by deliberately replacing them with positive conscious self-talk. It’s about changing your perception and generating new options.  

For example: “I don’t have enough time” when reframed becomes “I prioritise things that are important to me”.

Here are some more:

A Thinking Partner

“Our thoughts are shaped by our assumptions and sometimes those assumptions are just plain wrong” Cara Stein

Coaches are sometimes described as a thinking partner. Supporting and respectfully challenging the thinking of individuals who aspire to promotion is something that I love doing.

Identifying stinking thinking and then reframing it helps with getting the approach right going forward. It’s a valuable tactic and one that can help build confidence.

I hear lots of aspiring promotion candidates using the term ‘if I’m successful” when talking about opportunities ahead. That’s some stinking thinking right there!  It’s a subconscious barrier. It reflects inner doubt, lack of self-belief and can prevent you from presenting the best version of yourself during a promotion selection process.

Reframing can be a powerful enabler.  Here’s a brief insight from Steve, a Detective Sergeant, prior to successfully achieving his goal of promotion to Inspector:

“The positive mind set you kept me in was very good for me…You often corrected me from saying ‘if’ I pass to ‘when’ I pass, which had an impact psychologically on my preparation and actually made me feel you were keeping me on track. Compared to a previous unsuccessful interview, I felt completely different and more relaxed. Where I was unsure… a quick chat put me back in the positive thinking area again. There were a few times you did that”

Reframing “if” (stinking thinking) to “when” (positive thinking) helps tremendously in visualising a successful outcome. As Henry Ford puts it: 

“If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right”

Finally, if you are preparing ahead and would like something to trigger and support your thinking, here’s a FREE 50 page downloadable guide: ‘7 Things Promotion Boards Also Look For’

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Promotion

Police Promotion Long Live The CVF

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The phrase: ‘The King is dead. Long live the King’, refers to the heir who immediately succeeds to the throne. It arose from the law of ‘le mort saisit le vif’, meaning that the transfer of sovereignty occurs instantaneously upon the moment of the death or the previous monarch.

As of April 2018, the College of Policing (CoP) ended its support for the Policing Professional Framework (PPF) personal-qualities based police promotion. There has been no coronation as such, yet in the world of police promotion processes, there has been a succession. A new monarch, the ‘CVF’, or Competency and Values Framework to announce its full title has arrived. If you aspire to promotion now or in future, CVF the new monarch requires your allegiance!

A Level Playing Field

“Success in any field begins by deciding exactly what you want, then developing a plan” – Anon

Despite the well-documented challenges facing the police service, there are clearly a significant number of highly motivated aspiring leaders: Thousands of officers are awaiting the result of the NPPF Sergeant’s exam as I write this.

If there is such a thing as a level playing field, it’s as close right now as it will ever be. Those who will be assessed against the new framework all have the same opportunity now whilst awaiting their exam results, to get to know the CVF and to raise their awareness and understanding of it.

Some may wonder why on earth would you start reading up on the new framework already, when you don’t know your exam result yet? Now there’s a question!

“While we are making up our minds as to when we shall begin, the opportunity is lost.” – Quintillion

A proportion of those awaiting results will procrastinate, unwittingly running the risk of being left behind by waiting for this announcement as their starting gun.

Others commit fully, decision made, knowing instinctively that the starting gun has already been fired. They make full use of time before exam results are known, to get ahead of the curve and to be in the best position possible when a promotion process opens. Those who do this also recognise their own responsibility to drive and maintain their CPD (notably the number 1 recommendation from the CoP Leadership Review!).

“Development is always self-development. Nothing could be more absurd than for the enterprise to assume responsibility for the development of a person. The responsibility rests with the individual, their abilities, their efforts.” Peter Drucker

Candidates who prepare ahead inevitably find that they are better able to ‘hit the ground running’ when a promotion process is announced. They realise the value of homework on the framework, often drafting values based evidence aligned to the competencies (aka ‘behaviours’). Others realise too late. It dawns upon them that the CVF takes time to digest, to absorb and to think through, let alone work through.

Battle of the Shires…

“Change. We don’t like it, but we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change or we get left behind. It hurts to grow, anybody who tells you it doesn’t is lying, but here’s the truth sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same. Sometimes change is good.” – Meredith Grey

Some forces introduced the CVF before April. Having already supported officers at level 2 and 3 of the CVF in achieving promotion to Sergeant/Inspector, I’ve had some interesting anecdotal conversations along the way. Safe to say there are a wide range of strong views and opinions on the CVF!

There are clearly two distinct tribes of opinion, battling in the warzone of police promotion:

  1. First there are those who are clearly bitter, seeing themselves as a victim of unfair changes hampering their ability to get promoted. They will criticise and question how fit the new framework is for policing and may even put forward some convincing arguments.

  2. Then there are those with a growth mindset. Whether reluctantly or enthusiastically, they are navigating their way through the challenge, adapting the way they may have previously prepared. They get on with it, knowing there is no single best system for promotion selections!

The CVF is new for supervisors, HR departments and assessors. As with any change there will be issues as this new framework beds in with lots of learning and adjustments.

A Way Forward

“The process of going from confusion to understanding is a precious, even emotional, experience that can be the foundation of self-confidence” – Brian Greene

John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts”, and that’s a great starting point for everyone.

Reading through all available guidance is a helpful first step. Many candidates attempt a promotion process without even a rudimentary understanding of their promotion framework, often overlooking what is a precious source of information. If you aspire to promotion and want to be successful, the most valuable action you can take today is to familiarise yourself with the promotion framework your force uses.

The reason for this is simple: It’s jam packed full of golden nuggets of information to help raise your awareness. It describes what ‘good’ looks like and provides guidance to help align your evidence for promotion applications and interviews.

The framework is now in place. The CVF has been crowned King of UK police promotion frameworks… “Long live the CVF!” Your allegiance will grow stronger after some hard work to start making sense of it for yourself. Then you’ll be able to start aligning and drafting your evidence to the behaviours and shared values.

Unless of course you reside in the MET, which everyone knows is a separate Kingdom, far from the shires, where things are done a differently. Here, when it comes to promotion it is: “Long live the MLF!” In any case I always encourage my clients to look at both frameworks to gain a deeper understanding of the Sergeant’s role from two different perspectives.

I’ll leave the last word to someone who knew a thing or two about overcoming challenges…

“Some people dream of success. Others wake up and work hard at it.” – Winston Churchill

Wherever you are on your promotion journey, Rank Success can help you prepare effectively. Why not download a FREE guide & start today?

Let us know your views by tweeting @PoliceHour We'll feature the best tweets within the article.

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