Be cautious about succumbing to the pressure to, “Do more training in De-escalation, Implicit Bias and Community Policing.” and whatever other subjects are thrown into the current narrative. Succumbing to the pressure to get it done a.s.a.p. too often results in “tick the box” training. Agencies rush to put everyone through a 2, 4 or 8 hour class so they can tick the box and say, “Everyone has been trained in ________________ (fill in the blank.) There is a big difference between ‘being trained in’ and ‘having attended training’.
While “having attended training” can be a passive experience where learning may or may not have occurred, “Being trained in” implies that learning has occurred resulting in a change in behaviour. Lasting behavioural change is rarely the result of one training session. That initial training session is important for laying the foundation and needs to be delivered by a competent, knowledgeable instructor whether that is someone from inside your organization or a qualified contract trainer.
However, without a culture of learning and leading and an understanding of the need for the relentless, consistent repetition of the message, you will likely get little or no return on the investment from the initial training. It is important to understand that continually and consistently repeating the message is a mechanism for competence and culture.
When I say, “Continually and consistently repeating the message” I am not talking about giving the same lecture, telling the same stories and jokes and using the same outdated PowerPoint presentation at every training session. I am talking about weaving the core concepts and principles into every training session. I am talking about moving away from a large block of training once a year and finding ways to deliver training in small chunks on a consistent basis throughout the year and throughout a career.
Be cautious about limiting discussions on race, bias and racism (racism is explicit, not implicit bias) to any one group. You community is likely very culturally diverse with people whose ancestors came from all parts of the globe. Some have ancestors who came to America involuntarily as part of the slave trade. Many have ancestors who to came to America from every continent voluntarily. The discussions need to focus on unconditional respect for all people and seeing people as people, and move away from putting people in boxesbased on race, continent of origin, country of origin, religious beliefs, political affiliation, profession and numerous other factors.
Be cautious about rushing into change or simply to do more, or different training. You need to have the courage to tell those demanding cultural change that cultural change takes time and you need to make sure you are doing this right so it will be meaningful and lasting. You need to begin taking calculated steps to create (or enhance) a culture of leading and learning. You have limited resources (personnel, time and money) and you need to come up with a sustainable plan for long-term growth and progress. This does not mean you are going to study this for 5 years before you take action. If you need to do something right away then ask the question, “Where might the smallest change make the biggest difference?” Small, meaningful and impactful changes can get the process started moving in a positive direction. Ask your people for their input, as they likely know what the real issues are and have some suggestions on what needs to be done to improve training, culture and community relations.
Figure out what the areas are most in need of change and then continually ask a series of questions such as:
- What’s Important Now?
- What’s the right thing to do?
- Is this a leadership issue?
- Is this a training issue?
- What training do our people actually need?
- What does the research say?
- How does this align with, and support our Core Values?
- How do we weave the core concepts into the organizational culture so it is not “just another tick the box course”?
- What is the most effective way to deliver the training to enhance competence, confidence, learning, retention and recall?
- Where might the smallest change make the biggest difference?
- What is the first step?
- What’s next?
As a profession we have been through this before where we rushed to change things and implement training based on the very loud demands of small groups of people only to discover there was no change in behavior, no lasting change and no return on investment from that training. You owe it to your people, your communities and our profession to do this right. Collectively we need to take a breath, and make sure that you are making meaningful changes, delivering quality training and creating a culture of learning and leading.
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