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Hang in There: Perseverance & Police Promotion


“ Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did ” (Newt Gingrich)

If at first you don’t succeed ‘try and try again’ alludes to perseverance.

Solving challenges

People generally attempt to solve challenges using a combination of personal judgement, past experience and a keen sense of purpose. This seems a sound philosophy, but is not necessarily reliable if you are a police officer aiming to convert aspiration into promotion success!

Challenging thinking

Supporting and challenging the thinking of individuals who wish to be considered for promotion is something as a coach/mentor that I love doing. Getting the approach right from the outset is important. It is where I believe that many promotion candidates go wrong.

After FOUR previous attempts at promotion to Inspector over eight years this was my final attempt. Steve provided a very positive and complimentary outlook on preparation and progress. The state of mind is vital!!! The tips and encouragement were invaluable. On my 5th attempt I passed my promotion process” (David)

Building confidence

David’s experience cited above is an indication of just how valuable the right support at the right time can be in raising awareness and building confidence. Like many otherwise operationally excellent officers, David just needed to enhance his ability to align his daily duties with the Inspector’s role and verbally link evidence with organisational priorities. Closing this ‘gap’ helped with a confident performance on the day of his promotion board.

Growth mindset

I am often contacted by promotion candidates like David who have previously been unsuccessful in their own force promotion process three, four or even more times. Whilst some individuals may be disillusioned, most have the growth mindset and are still motivated, determined and enthusiastic – the only starting position if you are thinking of applying for promotion!

“ Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better ” (Jim Rohn)

Re-calibrate. Re-chip. Re-set.

If candidates have gone off in the wrong direction, I work with them to re-calibrate, re-chip or reset their initial approach to get them back on track. This usually involves me asking questions to identify or highlight ‘gaps’ to raise awareness and build confidence. This might include discussing the true reality of their own situation, or addressing some of the myths associated with promotion that are widely believed and held to be true.


Focusing your energy, hope and aspiration on prevailing in a promotion selection process can be an emotionally risky business; investing significant personal effort and prioritising your valuable time – sometimes for years – ultimately guarantees you…nothing!

Few people enjoy failing at something they want to achieve. It is not unusual for some promotion candidates to experience feelings of shock, disappointment, rejection, de-motivation and also anger, at least temporarily.

“Perseverance…the secret of all triumphs” (Victor Hugo)

No One Owes You a Promotion

These feelings and indeed the whole experience, may be compounded if individuals mistakenly believe when applying for a selection process that they are in some way ‘owed’ promotion.

That belief might be based on the fact that they have been ‘written up’ well or are informally supported by a senior sponsor or a mentor. It might be that their application scored highly. Or it might be based on a sense of entitlement, from volunteering repeatedly to change shifts or having performed temporary or acting duties for an extended period. It would be only right and proper that this is recognised by the organisation. The brutal truth however is that none of that really matters.

So it is time for a change in thinking this way, because once you reach the interview stage you have to be able to…

Talk the Talk

This particular skill uses a different part of the brain to compiling an application, so is often overlooked by those who are preparing for what is effectively the ‘gateway’ to being promoted.

The Key to Performance

A promotion interview is a cracking opportunity; one that is hard won and yet frequently thought of and cited as a barrier rather than an open goal. The key to a strong interview performance is effective preparation, with practice and rehearsal in advance.

All is not lost. Hang in there!

‘Fall down seven times, stand up eight’ – (Japanese proverb)

Kind Regards, Steve

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

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