Police promotion is not easy. It’s hard. If achieving it was easy, everyone might go for it. For those who do, promotion to Sergeant is a considerable step.
This first jump onto the rank structure or Greasy Pole as it is sometimes referred to is often cited as the most significant, rewarding and enjoyable career move. In terms of professional development as a leader, manager and supervisor, going for promotion is probably one of the biggest career decisions you’ll ever make. The process to get there is not for the faint-hearted either.
This can be quite daunting, especially if you are working shifts, balancing a family and wondering when or if you will be able to prepare. It requires reserves of energy, drive and resilience. You may have some big questions.
After studying for months to pass the law exam to qualify for a promotion, you might think that’s the end of it. It’s not.
“This is not the end. It is not the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning” – Winston Churchill
It is just the end of the beginning because a wider selection process lies ahead. It’s also a key moment where individuals may need a well-earned break. Some recognise the need to keep traction going. For a variety of reasons, others take their foot off the accelerator, losing momentum and can find it difficult to regain that initial drive. A promotion opportunity at this point may still be months or even years away.
Candidates can be ‘timed out’ depending on how long ago they qualified. Some may even have to go back to the drawing board and start studying all over again.
Deciding To Seek Support
A continuous development plan together with a growth mindset is key for aspiring promotion candidates. Opportunities are opening up across forces.
So it is with some of the above observations in mind that Police Hourwanted to examine what the promotion journey is like from the perspective of a couple of candidates who successfully navigated the obstacles, barriers and challenges to achieve their promotions.
|Case Study: Fast Track PC to Insp.||Candidate’s Coaching Insights…||My Nemesis: I contacted Steve for some help with promotion interviews. For a long time, I had struggled with interviews; I didn’t know how to get the right amount of detail in my answers whilst managing my time.
Interviews had turned into my nemesis and the more I worried about them the worse I performed. As a result, I failed my Sergeant promotion board in 2016.
On the Spot: To be honest, I never expected to get through the paper sift stage. After failing this board I promised myself that I wouldn’t let it happen again. I went back to the drawing board and targeted my areas for development, I decided to apply for Fast Track to really test my skills and abilities, to be honest I never expected to get through paper sift stage.
I found Steve online and got in touch via email, he was very prompt in his reply and said he was more than happy to help me with my Fast Track development. We agreed what I’d like to get out of the session beforehand, I wanted to be put on the spot, asked some difficult questions and I wanted Steve to be honest with where I was and how I could improve.
Reassurance: A week later we had a Skype coaching session. This was the first time I have done this kind of coaching. We went through introductions and some Sergeant and Inspector level questions. Steve provided detailed feedback for each response I gave, it was reassuring that I actually was better than I thought.
It really helped doing a ‘dry run’ with someone that didn’t know me and could give objective feedback about my strengths and weaknesses. Steve was very knowledgeable and his experience shone through. After the session he kept in touch and sent me articles and information that would help in my preparation, this was unexpected and showed his commitment to me getting the right result.
I Came Out Top: I know that it was my best interview to date. The coaching undoubtedly made the difference this time as I came out top of an in-force fast track assessment centre. I passed a competency-based interview, followed by an interview with Chief Officers. I was selected as one of only two people from my force to attend the College of Policing for the Fast Track Assessment.
I completed the assessment. Major difference this time: I felt comfortable and confident going into my interview component. I was reassured I had done the right preparation and targeted the right areas. My responses were detailed, to the point and all within the strict time limits.
I am now seeing steady improvement in an area that troubled me for years! Using career coaching is a great way to benchmark yourself, it has really helped me.
|Case Study: Promotion to Sergeant||Candidate’s Coaching Insights…||I have recently passed my Sergeant board first time and can safely say I wouldn’t have had the confidence and drive to get through without support.
Removing Mystery: I started out totally mystified and unsure of what lay ahead and so nine months prior to my board I attended a promotion master class. This took away some of the mystery for me and also gave me some confidence in my approach. In between? Practice, practice, practice.
Panic and Hitting the Wall: I’d say the most valuable part of my rank success experience include the guides, which I could reference at any point, but also the fact that Steve was there via email or phone to bring me back to focus when I contacted him in a panic having hit a wall in my preparation.
Through that Door: It’s a very hard process, but so worth it if you are willing and able to put the time and work in. Nothing comes easily, but rank success tools guide you down the right path and give you the confidence that you need and can take with you as soon as you walk through that door on the day of your board. “I get posted to my new team in the next couple of weeks and I still can’t quite believe it!”
We also asked Steve Cooper of Rank Success for his own insights on these case studies.
Steve’s Coaching Insights:
Two of the hardest things to handle in life are success and failure. Both feature intrinsically in police promotion processes. It’s no surprise that some individuals want to maximise their potential. A sounding board or thinking partner is how some individuals describe coaching, but my favourite description of coaching is Tim Gallwey’s:
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise his or her own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” – Tim Gallwey
The officers featured in the two case studies both adopted the most simple and effective strategy that I know of for achieving promotion. Prepare ahead! One alludes to starting nine months ahead of opportunity.
I find many officers are still quite sceptical about coaching. As an ex-cop myself; it’s something I understand. A legacy of a spoon-fed learning culture within policing still influences attitudes towards career development.
It’s a shame because some very capable individuals remain trapped in that mindset.
There are no guarantees of success when it comes to promotion. No one can offer that. Yet some still ‘see’ only the tangible outcome e.g. success or failure. That is to ignore other benefits and products of coaching including:
- Proactive focused thought, attention and observation
- Self-belief, self-motivation, commitment, awareness, responsibility
- Higher than normal focused attention; leading to higher than normal performance
- Achieving – What next?
This is the ‘stuff’, which, combined with an enthusiastic approach underpins success. In short, including coaching as part of your promotion preparation can help you focus on your potential instead of your limitations.
If you are preparing ahead and would like something to trigger and support your thinking, you might discover some known knowns, known unknowns or even unknown unknowns in my FREE 50 page downloadable guide: ‘7 Things Promotion Boards Also Look For’.