Did it turn your head?

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with Mr. Bill Westfall, president of the Westfall-Gallagher Group.  I first met Bill in 2000 when I attended his seminar on “Mastering Performance, Leadership and Supervision”.  If you have never attended a course instructed by Bill, I would urge you to do so.  He is one of the most inspirational and informative men you will ever meet.

Supervisor Training

One of the topics we discussed was the role of first line supervision.  Bill believes that over the past few years there has been an awakening in public safety on the importance of proper training for supervision, particularly first line supervisors.  My experience has been that most police supervisors tend to supervisor the way they were taught to be police officers.  That is to say, they look for bad things to happen then react.  Positive behavior is often overlooked, or considered simply doing your job.  I feel that most organizations do a good job training new supervisors, but fail to train leaders.  Bill disagreed.  He felt that most organizations fail to prepare newly promoted personnel to either supervise or lead.

After spending several hours together and seeing Guardian Tracking first hand, Bill told me he felt our software could provide organizations with the means to review and manage the performance of not only the entry level personnel, but all levels of supervision.  He also felt Guardian Tracking, if used properly, could literally instruct supervisors how to better perform their jobs, as well as change the culture within an organization.

Where we have found our product to be most successful is in those organizations that fully embrace the need for consistent, relevant performance documentation.  These organizations strive to make documentation a cultural habit.  The goal isn’t simply to document more.  The goal is to bring out the best in your personnel and to accurately reflect what they do.

When Should I Document

The question is often asked, “What should be documented?”  The answer is simple, you should document when you observe behavior that turns your head.  Take note, I did not distinguish between positive or negative behavior.  If behavior occurs which turns your head…take the time to document it.  You would certainly set aside time when a negative “head turning” event takes place.  Don’t your employees deserve the same effort when they do the right thing?

Leadership within the organization should make every effort to foster a culture which documents based on this standard.  Here’s an example.  When you hear a discussion regarding some significant behavior, the immediate question should often be, “Did you document what happened?”  Up line supervision must also set the example.  Take a moment and document when you witness something which turned your head.  In doing so, you send a message throughout the organization of what is expected.

It may take time, but the effort will be rewarded with an organizational culture which recognizes the many positive contributions being made, not just the occasional negative behavior.  Employees will begin to understand that documentation should neither be inherently good or bad…it should simply be an accurate reflection of how they perform their jobs.

If you would like more information about Bill Westfall, I would urge you to visit his webpage at