“The great Sergeant is in short trying to be a better person, in addition to being a better police officer and first line supervisor” – Edward Werder
In Police Promotion: What is the role of a Police Sergeant? I looked at how behaviours and expectations are described differently across police promotion guidance. I also covered some typical initial responses to the question: “Would you please describe your understanding of the Sergeant’s role?”
part two, I set out some of the wider functions and dimensions of the Sergeant’s to support your thinking and help build upon the ‘nutshell’ description of the role offered in part one: ‘To set, communicate and reinforce standards in the organisation’.
The headings and breakdown below are to help raise your awareness and develop a broader understanding as part of effective preparation and ahead of your promotion opportunity. I provide this colour coordinated model as an overview to help you remember.
1. Briefing & Administration
A key function of the sergeant’s role is the ability to communicate effectively through briefing and administration of daily business.
Oral and written communication are vehicles for supervisory leadership. Communications and trust are linked and the ability to deliver formal and informal briefings is a requirement of the sergeant’s role.
Administrative responsibilities are wide but include allocating and reviewing team workloads, performance reviews and managing/supervising investigations.
2. Discipline & Ethics
First line supervisors set, communicate and reinforce professional standards and maintain discipline, thereby supporting public trust and confidence.
As a role model of professional standards your character qualities e.g. honesty, respect for others, integrity and fairness become the standard by which others judge their own actions.
Ethics is a body of moral principles or values. Knowing what is right, being totally committed to it and doing it, underpin ethical supervision. The Code of Ethics sets out the principles and standards of behaviour expected from professional police supervisors.
3. Provide Leadership: People, Performance & Change
It is often helpful to consider leadership in context. The context here is 21st Century policing.
The role of sergeant is essentially about leading a team of police officers and staff, driving/managing performance and leading change.
Your personal drive, cognitive capacity and communication skills are all indicators of high potential, that you may well find being tested in your promotion application and wider promotion selection process.
Don’t forget, a promotion board is a leadership interview so being able to talk confidently about your own leadership and behaviours is an important part of effective preparation for the role.
4. Supervision & Training
Ensuring that important work gets done is a key part of the role.
Serving as leader of a team, you are there to motivate people, develop them and to manage their productivity and performance.
Creating a positive working environment where people can thrive, innovate and excel is part of the role expectation. Your functions include allocating relevant, necessary tasks and to ensure they are completed.
Team performance under your guidance as supervisor is key to meeting organisational aims and serving the public. You are accountable for your team’s performance.
Training others is a key but sometimes forgotten aspect of the role.
Training ranges from demonstrating the correct way of doing things to ensuring individuals and the wider team complete important personal and organisational training programmes.
It can be formal classroom based training or online elements.
5. Managing Resources & Continuous Professional Development (CPD)
Managing resources e.g. time, money, people and equipment is a role expectation as is taking personal responsibility for managing your own continuous professional development. Effective leadership also includes developing others.
It’s an important element of the sergeant role. Taking responsibility for driving your own development is the number one recommendation of the review of police leadership by the College of Policing.
Many aspiring promotion candidates I speak to are not aware of this and do not have a CPD plan.
Potential promotion board questions might include: “What have you done to develop yourself or anyone else in the last 12 months?”
If you are not aware of this element of the role and/or cannot respond effectively to such questions the board may decide that you are not yet ready for promotion.
As a sergeant a primary role responsibility includes the welfare of individuals in your team.
Knowing your team members, taking time to talk things through and support them as necessary together with knowledge of how and where to signpost or direct individuals for enhanced support services is an important element of the role.
This may require good awareness of your own wellbeing and abilities to understand and/or identify early indicators of potential trauma or stress in others.
Coping with pressure, physical health, mental wellbeing and managing personal, health or work issues are wider dimensions of ‘wellness’.
Good candidates are well informed and aware of this expectation e.g. Well people + Well managed = Well organisation.
7. Decision Making
Decision making is a critical aspect of policing and a highly valued skill. As such, it is a key expectation of the sergeant’s role and a competency tested in promotion processes at all ranks from Sergeant to Chief Constable.
The good news is that a lot of what you need to know about decision making is detailed in the National Decision Model (NDM).
The NDM provides a sound structure to consider and think through operational or wider decision making. It’s a valuable aid to help explain and justify why you took action or decided not to.
The Code of Ethics and the 10 risk principles are additional components to inform your rationale.
Over To You
Here’s a different snapshot of how the role behaviours and values for Sergeant are summarised across three different promotion frameworks.
You’ll note that role behaviours, expectations and values are similar; but frameworks cover and offer different perspectives. That can be quite helpful when you are trying to get an overview.
You can then focus on your own force framework to refine and develop your understanding of what is expected.
Clearly there is room for discussion and debate regarding these and other qualities that are not identified here.
However, it is my experience that many individuals preparing for promotion opportunities benefit strongly from discussion around aspects of the role, it helps to raise awareness, develop understanding and enhance personal confidence.
The best candidates are well prepared.
They are able to be verbally proactive in interview about the role, making links as appropriate to help persuade, influence and reassure the panel when collectively making a risk decision – to promote you!
I hope I have triggered, supported and provoked some thinking around the role of Sergeant.
If you’d like some support with your promotion preparation and want to hit the ground running you can download a FREE guide right now and make a start today! Over to you! Here’s the link: ‘7 Things Promotion Boards Also Look For In Candidates’
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