“I didn’t really know anything about the promotion process…”

Prepare Now. Get It Right First Time

The quote above is from a recent client testimonial kindly provided by a detective constable, who passed the short-listing and Sergeant Promotion board at their first attempt.

An effective way to address ‘not knowing’ is to adopt what children do to learn when they don’t know something… that is to ask questions. New recruits also learn by asking questions. It is a method often overlooked as a simple and effective way of learning.

Learn While You Can

When it comes to preparing for a promotion selection process (during which you are likely to have to respond to role based and other kinds of questions), it makes sense to learn what you can while you can; certainly ahead of any opportunity arising. I encourage clients to adopt a questioning approach because it helps to identify and address knowledge gaps.

A good starting point is – What don’t you know?

‘No-one really becomes a fool until they stop asking questions’

Know it All!

The great philosophers and scientists made many discoveries and advances by asking and posing questions. Those of us who do not need to think so deeply about life and the universe can sometimes believe that we ‘know it all’, arriving at a stage where we stop asking questions.

So if asking questions is such a good way to learn – why do we sometimes stop?

Intelligence and Strength

Some people are simply lazy. Maybe they are full of assumptions and do not concern themselves with asking more, habitually adhering to their own strong beliefs and certainty based on what they already know or think. Others may be afraid to ask questions, not wanting to appear ignorant or unsure.

Asking questions is a sign of both intelligence and strength. Good leadership often involves asking the right questions; in order to identify the right answers.

Slow it Down

We live life and experience change, especially at work at such a pace that questioning can have the effect of slowing things down; yet it also allow for better understanding.

Questions can also act as a check and balance against assumptions and to avoid rushing into the wrong actions.


Police NDMThe national decision model (NDM) is one example of asking questions e.g. to facilitate value based decision making; demonstrably building trust and accountability into the process by recording your rationale. Why not use the NDM to decide your approach to promotion?

Why do you want promotion? What personal values are involved? How do they mesh with your force values? What information do you have? What are you seeking to achieve? What are your options?

A coach/mentor is one option.


When will you start preparing for your promotion opportunity?

That’s a key question that a coach/mentor is likely to ask. This is because coaching is ultimately about YOU taking *action* to move from where you are to where you want to be.

Will asking questions gain you promotion? Not on its own. But you are unlikely to get there without answers!

Reference/further reading: How to be a brilliant thinker (Sloane. P; 2010 Kogan Page)

Kind Regards, Steve

Wherever you are on your promotion journey, www.ranksuccess.co.uk can help with guidance and support.