A police promotion guinea pig yesterday

Cavia Porcellus

If someone is used as a Cavia Porcellus (or as you and I might know them better, guinea pigs) it means new ideas or products are tested on them. There certainly appears to be some guinea pig testing occurring around the UK when it comes to promotion selection processes.


“Change is the only constant” Marcus Aurelius

There are different tests in place, in different forces, at different times and for different ranks. After you finally pass your exam (phew!), there are a variety of stages used to filter promotion candidates. They include…

  • Pre-assessment
  • Expressions of interest
  • Written applications
  • ’Moderation’ processes
  • A ‘filter’ menu of psychometric tests.
  • Interviews, role-plays & briefings
  • Presentations

If you aspire to promotion, you might be forgiven for thinking that someone, somewhere (or a whole team of ‘someones’!) are actively trying to make it harder. That’s an understandable perspective, so go ahead take a moment.

Now snap out of it! Change is the only constant. It applies equally to promotion selection, so it’s time to recalibrate, refocus your thinking and get something straight: Promoting you is a risk.

Promoting you is a Risk

Competence is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.

As a promotion candidate you will already be demonstrating required behaviours for the role you aspire to. More often, more skilfully and with better results compared with others.

The board need evidence of your behaviour to make a very important risk decision on behalf of the organisation: To promote you over someone else. So you need to demonstrate competence.

Demonstrating Competence: A Framework

Think of a framework as your very own map of behaviours and skills. It is a checklist, valued by the organisation and used to assess and measure you against. To Frame you!

Competencies are how an organisation communicates how it wants people to behave. They describe the desired knowledge, skills and abilities required to be successful in a certain job or role.

Three lifetimes

“It’s easy to convince yourself you know something until you have to explain it to someone else” Jason Fried

Unless you work in HR, you’d probably live three lifetimes without choosing to read a promotion assessment framework. I can’t blame you there, it’s dire stuff. Very dry.

To help officers succeed with sergeant and inspector applications and to prepare meaningfully ahead of their promotion interviews, I read them for you. But it is also really important for you to read your force framework, whether you align to the MLF, PPF, CVF or something else. A common theme with my many successful candidates is they take time to read and understand the promotion framework used for their selection process. They then adhere to it when practising and preparing for their interview. It’s clear however some officers haven’t read the framework they will be assessed against. That’s ok, we can fix that.


It’s really important because a good board performance is based upon the depth and breadth of your preparation. That includes reading through the competency framework (behaviours!) and understanding it to the point you can explain it. This is a simple strategy but it works.

Framing Here: PPF

The Policing Professional Framework (PPF) is the current promotion selection framework that most police forces use for Sergeant and Inspector promotion. Personal qualities (behaviours) assessed for promotion include:

  • Serving the Public
  • Working with Others
  • Decision Making
  • Leadership: Leading change
  • Leadership: Leading People
  • Leadership: Managing Performance
  • Professionalism

This developed from the Integrated Competency Framework (ICF), still used in some forces for Police Staff roles and promotions. The transition from ICF to PPF took forces and their HR departments quite a while to complete, with considerably more resources than they have now.

Framing There: MLF

“The new promotion assessment process will be more rigorous than ever” – Met Police Promotion Candidate Guidance

Then there’s the Metropolitan Police. The Met are now assessing candidates against a new Metropolitan Leadership Framework (MLF), which I summarise below.


Image Credit: Rank Success interpretation of MLF guidance. Inspector pack here. Sgt pack here.

To be considered for promotion you’ll need:

  • A Sharp Mind (Sound judgement, Timely Decisions and New Ideas)
  • Drive and Energy (Drive to Progress, Positive Attitude and Willing to Learn)
  • Leading Others (Inspiration, Inclusivity and Mindfulness)
  • Being Yourself (Courage and Self Confidence)

If you need a copy it can be quite hard to find online. So here are the links to make it easy for you…

This new framework replaced the Metropolitan Promotion Framework (MPF), where behaviours were described as ‘Drivers’ under three areas.

Framing Everywhere Else? CVF

“It is expected individuals will use professional judgement to assess the complexity and suitability of any evidence provided against the framework” – College of Policing


Image Credit: College of Policing CVF Model

The College of Policing’s Competency and Values Framework (CVF) for Policing is described as a “new, fresh and exciting promotion framework for a modern police service”. This will be replacing the PPF as forces are able to introduce it. For example, GMP are already using the CVF to assess their promotion candidates.


“Pessimists calculate the odds, optimists believe they can overcome them” – Ted Koppel

It can sometimes be confusing when you start preparing for your promotion interview. You’ll see different words and terminology peppered throughout instructions and guidance you receive from your force e.g. competence, behaviour, knowledge, skills, attributes, behaviours, personal qualities, etc.

If you are particularly unlucky, you may see all of these words in one set of force guidance and instructions for promotion. That is not necessarily helpful.

As a suggestion you might just want to choose just one important word – Behaviour. And bingo, you don’t have to think about all that other stuff.

Cut Through the Noise

“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify”. Henry David Thoreau

Having read each framework in detail and to remove confusion, I have simplified the behaviours being assessed into a simple mnemonic. One is around the role of Inspector, the other is for that of Sergeant. I believe they will apply no matter how many times the promotion wheel gets reinvented. This approach has helped many officers cut through the noise.

I’m afraid I can’t give my secrets away on this blog (!), but you are most welcome to attend any of my upcoming masterclasses or by downloading a digital promotion toolkit to achieve insight to these approaches.


Join me on a promotion masterclass


I look forward to meeting you!

Kind Regards, Steve


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