Once More: What motivates cops to do better?

images (1)

Let’s talk about motivation. What motivates people to perform at their best? Is it money?

Think again.

“If you want people to perform better, you reward them, right? Bonuses, commissions, their own reality show. Incentivize them. … But that’s not happening here. You’ve got an incentive designed to sharpen thinking and accelerate creativity, and it does just the opposite. It dulls thinking and blocks creativity.” Dan Pink

Now I suggest you watch this 10 minute video on what the research says about creativity and performance. CLICK HERE.

Then sit back and think for a moment on how this could apply to police.

For this is the rub, we think policing is different. We think what is true in the world today is somehow not true in the police field. What would happen if your police department took some time off to think about what they were doing and how to do it better? How much does AUTONOMY, MASTERY and PURPOSE play where you work? What do you think would happen if your department eliminated performance evaluations as we did in Madison many years ago?

Years ago when we were building a police department committed to quality and continuous improvement, we put together a “Quality Leadership Manual” to help all our leaders understand and be able to practice this new leadership that was oriented more toward teamwork, collaboration, and coaching. Central to this was the elimination of performance evaluations.

An excerpt from that workbook:


 1.  Any employee’s work, including the work of managers, is tied to many systems and processes.

 BUT performance evaluation focus on individuals, as if one of those individuals could be appraised apart from the systems in which they work.

 2.  Most work is a product of a group of people.

 BUT a process of evaluating an individual requires a pretense that the individual is working alone.  As a result, performance evaluation encourages “lone rangers” and is a divisive influence.

 3.  Performance evaluation presumes consistent, predictable systems.

 BUT systems and processes are subject to constant changes, often beyond anyone’s awareness or ability to predict.

 4.  Performance evaluation requires a process of appraisal that is objective, consistent, dependable and fair.  Otherwise the evaluation will be seen as capricious and based on favoritism.

 BUT such objectivity and consistency simply do not exist.


 Performance evaluation:

             — Encourages mediocrity by rewarding those who set “safe” goals

            — Puts pressure on employees to work around systems rather than improve them

            — Inevitably demoralizes employees, creating either losers or cynics

[From “The Case Against Performance Evaluation,”  Peter Scholtes, Joiner Associates, 3800 Regent St., Madison, Wisconsin 53705.}

For more, CLICK HERE.

What could happen to American policing if the men and women in the ranks were permitted to dream and design better ways of doing business? Well, that’s my dream. And the dream I tried to share with you in my book. Good luck and godspeed in moving forward.