Recently I read the book Managing the Millennials by Chip Espinoza, Mick Ukleja and Craig Rusch, which had been recommended to me by two of my mentors Tim Janowick and Roy Bethge. Tim and Roy provide some great training on Generational Crossroads through Integritas Consulting and Research Group.
On page 26 of the book the authors made a statement that stuck with me, “An underlying premise of this book is that the people with the most responsibility have to adapt first.” I believe this philosophy is as applicable to law enforcement trainers as it is for managers who wish to successfully lead multiple generations in the workplace. The authors go on to say, “Adapting does not mean acquiescing to the whims of an individual or generation. Adaptive managers have the ability to create environments that allow for enough discomfort so that people feel the need to change but safe enough so that they can change. We think that generational rapport is critical to creating such an environment.”
It can be hard for us to accept that as a trainer and as a leader you have the responsibility to adapt first. Trainers are often veterans and it is easy to get caught up thinking “It is the officers that need to adapt to my training, not the other way around.” If you wish to be an effective trainer and leader you have the responsibility to adapt your training so that the people in your class can learn most effectively. You can not justify teaching your programs the way you like to learn and tell yourself it is ‘their’ problem if they don’t get it. The learner has a responsibility in every class they attend to come with an open mind, come intent on learning and do their best to learn the material that is being presented. You as the trainer however, are the with the most responsibility and you have to adapt first. If you remember why you are in the business of training – to save lives – it can make this philosophy easier to embrace.
P.S. Just a comment on generational issues in the workplace. I am by no means an expert of this issue. It bothers me however, when I hear trainers bitching about ‘the new generation of officers’. A little reality check here. When I started recruit training in 1979 the trainers were making the same comments about ‘the new generation of officers’, just like they were in the decades preceding my start in the law enforcement profession and the decades since. Every generation brings something new to the profession. We need to celebrate those differences and find ways to embrace them to enhance the profession. And, before you slam the ‘new generation’ remember they have been the ones who voluntarily joined our militaries since 9-11, have gone to war and fought heroically for our nations.
Brian Willis – A Man With Many Questions
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