Guide to an Effective Early Warning System
Enhancing a Holistic Environment by Cultivating Awareness
Developing a department-wide culture of personal accountability is essential. Detecting, mitigating, and monitoring problematic behavior provides an opportunity for deeper reflection and creates learning opportunities for both officers and supervisors. If an officer is struggling with their role or having difficulties adjusting to a new assignment, Early Intervention paves the way for supervisors to tackle the issue from a supportive angle, thereby reducing conflict and eliminating discomfort on both sides. Sometimes an officer will be aware of the problem but reluctant to ask for help. Other times the officer may not realize that the problem exists. In both instances, Early Intervention opens the door for healthy conversations and self-reflection. By centering discussions on the need for positive change, Early Intervention sends clear, compelling messages of deterrence, accountability, and empowerment from the beginning.
Examining Practical Use of an Early Intervention System
Supervisors dealing with frequently transferred personnel and alternating rosters will find EIS especially beneficial. When used in conjunction with traditional performance management tools, Early Intervention Systems can supply insight into which areas a new subordinate excels and where they struggle. This is essential in gauging employees who are performing new roles or operating in high-stress assignments.
Without a clear understanding of an employee’s history, supervisors may not understand which behaviors are inherent to the officer’s personality or if behavioral changes are the result of a new task or stressor. Excessive overtime, absences, irritability, or carelessness may signify hidden personal issues, including compassion fatigue. Illness, sleep deprivation, financial stress, and marital problems can alter an officer’s performance, signaling the need for added support as opposed to reprimanding.
As the Department of Justice studies have shown, targeted and specialized interventions are most effective in helping an officer achieve needed improvements. Because Early Intervention advocates a hands-on approach, if an officer is involved in an incident, supervisors will be better equipped to take into account outside factors and view situations from the officer’s perspective. Not only does this process improve the quality of supervision, but it also cements the importance of comprehensive and consistent performance analysis. The supportive nature of the organization is a key factor in facilitating recovery from stress, adversity, and trauma and provides sustainability throughout a career in public safety.
Enhancing a Holistic Environment by Spotlighting High Performers
While traditionally Early Intervention Systems have been used to highlight pre-disciplinary actions, these programs can also call attention to exemplary behavior. Not only does this practice encourage officers to go beyond their regular duties, but it also fosters constructive interactions between members and supervisors. When a leader affirms good behavior, they are demonstrating an investment in their officer’s professional development and well-being. In turn, positive reinforcement can have a powerful impact on the entire agency, creating a rippling effect of value and validation, and a stronger, healthier organizational culture.
In our next blog post, we will be discussing common myths surrounding Early Intervention Systems.