Promotion: Taking Control is Always an Option

Ambition in the police service is alive and well in the hearts of many officers who aspire to achieve promotion. One indication is the 939 candidates who sat and passed the October 2015 OSPRE exam were added to a national pool. This pool is thought to be around 15,000 individuals aiming for promotion to Sergeant and Inspector rank. Increased competition is tough, but it’s a healthy situation for police forces who need to select from the best available candidates.

“ I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavour.” (Henry David Thoreau)

As an independent coach/mentor specialising in helping officers to achieve promotion, I see two main approaches adopted by officers to the current situation. A very clear divide with two distinct mindsets.

I would describe them as: ‘Wait and See’ and ‘Take Control’.

Wait and See

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

An understandable approach… Maybe! Strangely, quite a few candidates who fall into this cohort are some of the most experienced officers and capable individuals. Some may be jaded or worn down by previous unsuccessful promotion attempts. Others might have temporarily (or otherwise) lost that spark of ambition that once inspired them.

Not knowing if, or when your force will run a promotion process can be a significant source of frustration and so some may simply be pragmatists!

Generally speaking, this cohort have decided not to commit to preparing just yet. After all, why should they? There are priorities and there are priorities. But there you have it. The divide.

Take Control

 “You must either modify your dreams or magnify your skills.” (Jim Rohn)


Qualified officers who ‘take control’ choose to do so. They are proactive in their own interests. ‘Hustle while you wait’ is a strategy being employed by those focused on achieving. They clearly understand that they will need to be ‘match fit’ and at the ‘top of their game’ to maximise personal potential for opportunities, to be in with a real chance of prevailing in a promotion process.

With forces now starting to run promotion selection processes and opportunities opening up, it is this cohort of individuals who possess a clear growth mindset who are likely to achieve their aim.

They choose to prepare ahead. To close gaps in knowledge. To gain specific skills. They are proactive in driving their own Continuous Personal and Professional Development (CPD) aiming to become ‘more promotable’.

Focus on What You CAN Do!

“Our life is what we make it.” Marcus Aurelius

Focusing upon and taking control of what you CAN do, or what you CAN change is empowering, but it can also be a daunting experience. Preparing ahead of any process can help reduce uncertainty and build confidence.

A changing aspect of the wider promotion landscape is that assessment tests are becoming more prevalent. This is something of a blind spot for some candidates.
Using feedback from promotion candidates (who scored very highly in their promotion interview) but who failed by a narrow margin overall (e.g. dropping a couple of marks on their Situational Judgement Test – SJT) led to me producing this FREE Guide to Police Assessment Tests to help raise awareness.

It’s proving useful for officers to be able to access some free practice tests.
But more importantly to take control. It’s always an option.

Kind Regards, Steve

Wherever you are on your promotion journey  can help with guidance and support.