The Killer Question…
Police officers at all levels are often asked the following killer question on their promotion boards:
“What have you done to develop yourself or others in the last 12 months?”
If you are seeking promotion in the police, awareness of CPD is an essential aspect of your wider preparation, not least because it is directly associated with that ‘killer’ interview question. This question (or variations on it) is where your response helps the panel to know and decide, there and then, whether or not you are ready for promotion.
It’s such a killer question for your success, not only is it the No.1 recommendation from the Leadership Review, that the College of Policing (CoP) even have a campaign dedicated to it: National CPD week. I thought it might be helpful to share some insights on the importance of CPD with the aim of supporting, challenging and respectfully provoking your thinking around this topic.
The world-famous leadership and management guru, Peter Drucker, puts it nicely:
“Development is always self-development. Nothing could be more absurd than for an enterprise to assume responsibility for the development of an individual. The responsibility rests with the individual, his abilities, his efforts.” – Peter Drucker
You are likely to need an overwhelming appetite to advance as a leader in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.
Whatever approach you adopt towards your own development, Ralph Waldo Emerson words lend value:
“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The concept of CPD allows you to identify skills gaps and plan how to fill them. By doing this and recording your learning, you are able to demonstrate the commitment you are making to your career and to upholding professional standards.
What is CPD?
“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein
Simply put, CPD stands for:
Continuous Personal/Professional Development
This is not just for police promotion candidates by the way; developing yourself (and others) is important in all walks of life and work!
Everyone can relate immediately to what is required for developing their ‘professional’ skills and knowledge. The ‘personal’ element relates more to your emotional intelligence, self-awareness and social skills. Ensuring you develop both aspects will help you become not just a more promotable candidate, but also more resilient to the modern challenges of policing and generally bettering yourself as a person.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) have identified that certain skills are more valuable in predicting future success for first and second line manager positions leading to 2020 and beyond. These include:
- Emotional intelligence
- Leadership and Collaboration
You may recognise them from your force promotion framework as competency areas. CPD is often the means by which members of a professional organisation maintain, improve and enhance their knowledge and skills and develop personal qualities required in their professional lives.
Organisations are taking CPD more seriously. Though it is recognised as important, it is still not always clearly defined. The policies and procedures of organisations often reflect that fact. The CoP define CPD as:
“A range of learning activities through which you can maintain or enhance your capacity to practice legally, safely, ethically and effectively.”
I prefer the ICE (The Institute of Civil Engineers) definition, as a more holistic view and more relevant as you progress through the ranks:
“The systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge and skills, and the development of personal qualities, necessary for the execution of professional and technical duties throughout your working life.”
Either way you view it, CPD is the way for you to demonstrate that you are committed to developing yourself throughout your career. Whilst best practice in CPD is always changing, personal responsibility for self-development will remain as the most important factor (as highlighted by Peter Drucker and the College of Policing). So don’t expect others to do this for you!
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry. D. Thoreau
Wherever you are with your CPD, attitude and effort are two things you can control. This seems a sensible and logical place to begin.
Life is competitive and securing a formal leadership position in policing is no different. If promotion is your goal, CPD is of critical importance but after long, busy, stressful shifts or on your rest days, it’s safe to say that it’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind. And yet, when it comes to promotion preparation, the relevance of CPD is often a blind spot.
Organisationally, there are potential barriers and challenges to participation in CPD. Lack of measurable impact means that some establishments perceive CPD as an additional expense with very little return.
The Home Office Policing Frontline Review will include asking the front line officers and staff for feedback on access, availability and their experience of support and development services, with a view to identifying opportunities to improve existing provisions.
Assess Your Priorities
“Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time’, try saying ‘It’s not a priority’ and see how that feels.” – Laura Vanderkam
Many officers are engaged in professional development activity but don’t automatically think of it as CPD. You can talk it through with a line manager, coach/mentor or supportive colleague. This can help raise your awareness, develop confidence and help you focus on your priorities.
Ideally this should occur within a meaningful Performance Development Review (PDR) cycle or process. However, the reality is that even with the best intentions, standards around these processes do vary considerably. This is why I am here to offer completely confidential (and successful!) support, to those proactive enough to look beyond the limitations within their own organisation.
I often ask aspiring promotion candidates to get the ball rolling, “What are you reading?” “I haven’t got time for that!” is the honest reality for many cops.
“How are you improving?” is another question. Officer’s responses reveal different attitudes and understanding around CPD and also the realities of the ‘real world’. “It’s hard to know where to start” is another common response…
7 Tips for Starting Your CPD Plan
“If you want it, come and get it, for crying out loud.” – David Gray
As if by magic, here’s some food for thought to make a start:
- Gap assessment: Compare where you are now against where you ultimately want to be.
- Identify goals: Identify your specific career goals. What steps are needed to reach them?
- Gather information: Do you want to develop laterally or for promotion or both?
- Evaluate your professional skills: What are they? What skills will you need to acquire or improve? What gaps are there?
- Decide on a strategy: What’s the plan to get there? Who can help?
- Develop a timeline: 1 year, 3 years, 5 years; what does your development journey look like?
- Write all of the above down!
Officers who approach promotion opportunities seriously will probably have something similar to the above as a plan, as a tangible record of their commitment to learning and improving. There are even police templates that can help.
CPD involves a combination of approaches; ideas and techniques that can help you manage your learning and growth for lateral development or vertical career progression.
Activities include Reading, subscription to policing or professional publications, promotion exams, acting/temporary experiences or managing change. Academic study and attending conferences are others.
Raising the Bar…
“I’ve recently passed the PC to Sgt process. I can honestly say that your Masterclass, along with your website and personal encouragement has been invaluable. You gave me the right direction to steer my study and gave me the tools to create a winning structure that saw me through on the day. Thank you so much!” – Jonny, Passed Sergeant Selection Process FIRST TIME.
When I work with police promotion candidates, I encourage them to aim high, provide guidance to raise the bar and ask them to challenge themselves.
How much CPD should you do? “It depends” is the short answer.
That’s because certain roles may require a specified number of hours and/or attendance at CPD events or requalification to maintain competence. Essentially, you will need to do enough to maintain professional knowledge, skills and competence that you need for your role. You can also choose what not to learn!
If you’d like a more in-depth perspective, then check out the CoP’s 10 Indicators of High Potential. In summary, these are as follows:
- Cognitive Capacity:
- Broader Thinking & Awareness
- Problem-Solving Capacity
- Implementing Change
- Leadership & Communication:
- Personal Drive:
- Committed to Self-Development (this blog!)
- Focus on Delivery
- Constructive Ambition
Like the above, most information is never more than a click away. If you like to work smart, downloading a digital promotion toolkit may be just what you need to get ahead of the competition right now.
Kind Regards, Steve
Wherever you are on your promotion journey, Rank Success can help you with comprehensive guidance and support.