Sergeant Robert (Bob) Walker at the Montgomery County Police Department was willing to participate in an hour long interview during which he shared his management styles as well as many of the ways in which he believes he is most effective as a Sergeant and supervisor to 13 members of the police force. Bob Walker (whose name has been changed to maintain his privacy) prefaced our conversation by sharing what he believes epitomizes the reasons he is so successful as a supervisor. Earlier that morning (on the day of the interview) one of the newest members of Sergeant Walker's Police force came to him to share with him some thoughts:
So, he [new member of police force] walks in the room and says to me 'I want to thank you for hearing me out yesterday'. This guy, he thanked me for listening. He knew he had upset me and other members of the force but I demanded that we all listen and hear his side of the story. So today, he thanks me for that. That is big. That summarizes a lot of what we do here. We hear each other out. We listen even if we don't agree. I demand respect and I think that is why we are a successful team. (Walker, Personal Interview, January 29, 2011)
Sergeant Walker describes his management style as one that is democratic in nature. As a manager, Sergeant Walker allows the members of his police force to take part "in as many of the decisions as is possible." He instills a "majority rules" mentality for many of the decisions needing to be made within the force.
One of the key aspects to the management style that Sergeant Walker employs is a tremendous commitment to communication. The communication taking place within the Police force goes in multiple directions and is encouraged across and throughout the police force. Sergeant Walker explained, "I believe it is as important that I communicate to my workers and they communicate with me. I mean, it needs to go both ways and also from one of them to another. So communication goes up and down and across us all" (Walker, Personal Interview, January 29, 2011).
"Do you know what I think motivates these guys the best," Robert Walker asks me in the midst of our interview. He continued, "being honest, communicating, and giving them positive feedback." Sergeant Walker uses many techniques to motivate his police force. He has an identified leader of the team for each month. This gives everyone on the force an opportunity to recognize the work of a different member of the team. Sergeant Walker mentioned that throughout the years, he keeps track of different accomplishments big and small of different personnel so that when their month comes around, he is able to "pull out some of the little and big things they did in the past and give them clear recognition for it. Usually they have forgotten about these things but it means a lot that I didn't forget" (Walker, Personal Interview, January 29, 2011).
There are also fun games and trivia that Sergeant Walker encourages among members of his team. He encourages an atmosphere of fun and also an atmosphere of challenge and believes it is the combination of both that motivates the members of his team.
The police force has a code of ethics that each and every police officer must read and sign a statement stating that they read and understand this code. Therefore, there are clear consequences and a clear understanding of what is expected on the part of the officers in terms of ethics and demonstrating ethical behavior on the police force.
Sergeant Walker also has a statement of moral standards and department values that he also has his force sign. Sergeant Walker actually meets with each new hire prior to the start of their employment to go over both the police force code of ethics as well as the department values and moral standards.
"One thing that is imperative is that I make sure that my officers are making ethical decisions every day and at every level of their work of policing. If they don't then how can they be true police officers?…