Guide to an Effective Early Warning System
In our previous posts, we have discussed how employee participation and leadership commitment are critical to the success of any organizational improvement initiative. While EIS and EWS alerts forewarn, each flag is fact sensitive and a learning opportunity for both the employee and department leadership. It is the responsibility of leadership to act on the information appropriately and use it to help and support the employee.
Like any element of ongoing performance management, Early Intervention Systems are not “set-it-and-forget-it programs.” Early intervention systems require a continuous commitment by the department as a whole to ensure that supervisors follow through with their responsibilities to respond to EWS alerts and conduct meaningful interventions.
In today’s environment, law enforcement leaders must work to establish an organizational climate of accountability and empowerment while at the same time committing to significant and sustainable change. While a considerable challenge, the cumulative effect of changes made in the roles of supervisors and changes in department policy has the potential for changing the organizational culture of a department by establishing new standards of accountability and employee support.
Some may dismiss EIS as morale-diminishing micromanagement tools. Relying on event counts and algorithms of predetermined problematic behavior CAN negatively impact an individual officer’s morale as well as the morale of the entire department. Guardian Tracking is different and law enforcement leaders all over the country can attest to the real-world difference our program is making for their officers and their departments.
Unlike other systems, Guardian Tracking emphasizes both the art and science of leadership to inspire engaged leadership throughout the organization. Our EI feature promotes transparency, guidance, and growth, allowing officers to view how their behavior is perceived and reflected. If the officer doesn’t like the image, they will adjust their behavior for real change. When the reflection is positive, it is shared with their peers and celebrated by the organization. With Guardian Tracking, officers and other public safety professionals can perform their duties with confidence and clarity, knowing that their supervisors and their agency are actively involved in the positive progression of their careers.
Ensuring Successful Implementation
Before deploying an Early Intervention System, agencies should have written directives outlining which events require data capture, monitoring, analysis, and specific thresholds and time parameters for each qualifying category. In addition to these policies, it’s also essential to establish directives clearly defining the agency’s reporting practices, documentation, review, and meaningful intervention strategies. Supervisors should also be briefed on the breadth of resources available to officers and the procedure to request and obtain these services.
For EIS to be successful, the program must apply to all members of the department. Supervisors should not be exempted from the system, as they themselves are subject to performance assessment and have the power to affect officer behavior under their watch. Finally, self-reflection is vital for individual growth. As such, officers should have the ability to view their files. When talking to department members about the Early Intervention System, leaders should stress that all information will be handled discreetly and that certain documentation is kept confidential.
Integrating Early Intervention into Everyday Practice
Employee participation and leadership commitment are critical to the success of any organizational improvement initiative. Therefore, departments should begin planting the seeds of early intervention well ahead of the program’s rollout. Disseminating literature to employee unions and associations is a legitimate first step; however, it’s paramount to provide staff members with the chance to learn more about the program and ask questions in an informal environment.
Many officers will wonder how this program will affect their day-to-day, as well as future opportunities for advancement. Approaching the subject from a role-neutral perspective will assist leaders in presenting this tool as an organization-wide improvement strategy.
In keeping with best practice, leaders should explain what type of information is evaluated by the EWS while always framing the conversation around pre-disciplinary objectives. First and foremost, officers should know that Early Intervention Systems are for their benefit as well as the departments. Explaining the need for a tighter focus on improving officer safety, internal culture, and community relations will steer the conversation away from micromanagement thoughts.
About Guardian Tracking
The men and women behind Guardian Tracking are committed to bringing positive change to the world of policing. Founded by law enforcement professionals, we have stood in your shoes and we know what it means to walk out the door, not knowing what the day will bring. Throughout our roles as agency leaders, and later as CALEA assessors, we’ve experienced the challenges and positive effects that come with implementing real change. In fact, it was these very issues that led us to form Guardian Tracking.
We understand that the work you do day in and day out has tremendous meaning and impact on your communities. Our system is there to amplify that work and make it easier for you to manage so you can focus on inspiring your team and guiding them to greater success.
Guardian Tracking creates a clear path for empowered and engaged leadership to facilitate both individual and organizational success. To date, the Guardian Tracking system helps over 1100 organizations ensure higher performance, accountability, trust, employee engagement, and morale at every level of their organization.
That concludes our Guide to an Effective Early Warning System