Staffordshire Police have recently announced their Sergeant promotion selection process. As with the current GMP Sergeant process, this will fill vacancies from internal applicants and transferees from other forces alike. If you’re aspiring to this important police leadership position, this blog is for you!
The force’s advertisement states:
‘We want our Sergeants to have a passion for serving the community, putting the needs of victims and witnesses first and developing staff to provide a first class service. This opportunity is open to high performing substantive Police Constables looking for promotion within the organisation; external Police Constables for transfer on promotion or substantive Sergeants who are keen to join us on a level transfer.”
The closing date for applications is 28th April 2023. So if you are a qualified Constable aiming to convert your legal exam result and leadership aspiration into promotion success, this blog will help. Consider it your own personal Staffordshire promotion briefing, with some additional guidance and insights to support your approach. Give yourself an edge in this career progression opportunity!
All Leaders Read!
“I ain’t got time to read mate.”
Staffordshire Police have provided lots of helpful information about their upcoming selection process and assessment centre. It’s available right now and you can choose to read it today; or instead decide to defer action until nearer the application deadline, as many busy cops do.
Here’s a tip: Bring your force guidance to life. Make it tangible. How? Print it off! Grab a pencil and a highlighter pen and read it deliberately. Treat it as a long-anticipated intelligence report, addressed to you personally. Look for the gems and golden nuggets, they are there. If you want it spelled out for you, my premium Sergeant promotion toolkit does just that!
Your force guidance is quite useful though. There’s lots of insights to orientate you, including signposting you to the College of Policing (CoP) professional development pages, where you can also access the Competency and Values Framework (CVF) guidance. Like every force, the CVF is used for scoring you in the assessment exercises.
As a valuable head start, you have available 25 pages of guidance between the force’s freely-available Sergeant Process Information Pack and Guidance notes. This will no doubt help you to gain some serious early traction. You also have at your fingertips a wealth of free support from Rank Success, especially in learning to love the CVF. The CVF is something many officers struggle to get their head around, which I why I explain it in blogs, YouTube videos, podcasts, and even in an in-depth 3-hour CVF explainer video!
If you choose not to read it all now while it matters, I expect that might be because you are busy doing other things. That’s a reason often cited to me by clients. Indeed, I recall one individual informed me rather honestly, “I ain’t got time to read mate”.
But when it comes to entering a promotion selection process, time management and prioritisation is a reality check. Lots to do in a short amount of time. Making time to sit down and absorb this important ‘early briefing’ info is a valuable opportunity not to be missed. Essentially, the starting pistol for this process was fired when the force made the guidance available to you. Savvy officers have already started preparing earlier. Every day delayed is a day lost. Those days add up to a week or more. What you choose to do in that week will have consequences, favourable or otherwise!
Many officers simply choose to procrastinate, losing the day, discovering from feedback that they ‘dipped’ the force promotion selection by just one or two marks. How might an extra few days of applied thinking and reflection have changed that outcome?
Don’t just scroll through these documents on your phone! Having had loads of conversations with aspiring promotion candidates, I recognise that you may believe you are absorbing detail doing this. But you’ll do that a lot anyway, so your brain screens out a lot. It can be hard to get things to sink in. An alternative is to make notes as you go, identifying key insights and golden nuggets hidden in plain sight.
Just a quick glimpse at the information provided to candidates reveals there are positive action workshops, offering early doors support in relation to the written assessment, interview, and briefing elements. There’s also a Chief Constable’s briefing ahead of the applications deadline. Rank Success also exists to help level the playing field in these processes.
The guidance sets out a clear intelligence picture of what is to come, indicating the different assessment methods to be used and what is being assessed in each exercise. A deeper read through may reveal even more if you are an inquisitive reader, highlighting potential questions or ideas for presentation scenarios.
It sets out clearly that for the written assessment element, you will be required to answer two questions against two of the six CVF competencies. You might be surprised to discover that in addition to assessing your evidence in the written assessment, your spelling and grammar will also be assessed. This is just part of the brutality of promotion applications, and why I cover such important ingredients in my guides.
Another important document to read and familiarise yourself with is your Staffordshire Police PEEL inspection. As another part of my free service to officers and forces, I provided a 3-minute summary of the key points via my dedicated police leadership YouTube channel (see below, subscribe for more content!). I advise all my clients to read such relevant information; not least so you can paint a brighter future under your leadership while answering forward-facing questions.
When you’re successful and in post, there’s also a raft of recommended reading I provide for you in my All Leaders Read YouTube series, all with the aim of developing and improving your police leadership skills. Maybe add it to your CPD plan?
In short, there’s a lot to be going on with and more than enough to spur you into action; there’s even more later in this blog, so read on. If you are astute, you’ll recognise the clear opportunity you have to start marshalling any supporting evidence or examples you have against the CVF competencies… TODAY!
Marshalling Your Evidence
You won’t know the two exact questions you’ll be required to answer in your written assessment. But you can use the time you have now to make your supporting evidence ‘tangible’ by drafting it.
Setting out and structuring your evidence is a key consideration. It’s one to think about sooner rather than later, preferably not under the pressure of a deadline; pressure that’s increased by inaction now. Making the most of these few days you have can literally be the difference between pass and fail, by elevating your awareness of what good looks like and an appreciation of what works in promotion.
If you need or want further support, that’s exactly why Rank Success exists. There’s a readymade and comprehensive Sergeant toolkit available, featuring detailed and rank-specific examples of what good looks like, at the level of Sergeant and aligned to the CVF behaviours. The Interview Success guide and question bank as part of the toolkit will also supercharge your preparation for the interview and presentation stage. It even includes support on answering forward-facing questions.
With this in mind, it’s good to understand the basics about what the role of Sergeant is, as per my embedded free video below:
You will note from your force guidance that the interview will consist of forward- and rear-facing questions. A briefing exercise will be part of the assessment process too. If you need more help with these and successful structures to use, you’ll find these topics and lots more covered in my Sergeant digital toolkit.
I recently recorded a one-hour podcast dedicated to this Sergeant process in Staffordshire, to encourage and provoke some reflection among aspiring candidates. Use it to get ahead of the curve and recognise the value of the pre-briefing information you have been provided with by your force.
Also free-of-charge, I’ve recorded a short video on my YouTube channel, in which I cover aspects of the Staffordshire promotion process.
Words of Advice from Chief Constable Chris Noble
“Do your homework, understand what you’re stepping into.” – CC Chris Noble
In February this year I had the privilege of interviewing Chris Noble, the Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police. This was another piece of great content for aspiring cops on my free Police Promotion and Leadership podcast. I followed it up with a dedicated blog summary, published as part of my inspiring police leadership series.
Here’s a short transcribed excerpt from the podcast, where Mr. Noble responds to the following question: “What’s the best advice you can offer listeners who aspire to promotion in the police service now?” I’ve highlighted some of his comments in bold if you are a busy cop reading this quickly!
Chief Constable Noble: “Okay, okay. I think the big one, because we’re all different, we’re all individuals, is you’ve got to be really clear to why you want it in the first place. What’s your motivations? Do you know the job you’re gonna be stepping into? Have you done your due diligence about what it’s gonna mean because it’s a different step up, whether it be the first step to Sergeant, the step on past that to Inspector or on to Chief Inspector. It’ll have a consequence for you.
Generally speaking, you’re gonna have less time, you’re probably gonna have more pressure, probably more frustration, so even just on that sort of personal level and speaking to your loved ones about understanding what it might mean and the shifts that it will have, I think that’s probably the big one for me about, do your homework around it, understand what you’re stepping into and don’t be attracted by the people whizzing past you in the fast lane on the motorway, make your choice, make your own decisions.
I think once you’ve got to that place, just open your eyes and have a look around to what does good look like? You know, what is a good Sergeant? What are the component parts of that? What’s a good Inspector, etc. Because then I think you can start to get a sense in your own head about where you see the gaps that are beginning to close or fill, the balance between someone who’s got good technical skills and someone who’s inspirational, someone who cares for their staff, so you probably want to have an idea, I do anyway in my head, about what does good look like as opposed to the classic line about well I’m definitely not gonna be as bad as them, so I might as well go for promotion. So maybe a slightly more positive way of looking at someone who actually you rate as a really good supervisor or leader and then thinking about how you might want to adapt your own approach.
I think the next element, which obviously comes to the core of your sort of rule, is have a really clear plan. You know, if it’s important to you, if it’s gonna mean a change in your life commitments and the time you have available, then you need to give it the attention it needs around having a plan about your approach. And that for me isn’t just about the technicalities of preparing for a process, and knowing the CVF inside out, having your backward looking questions ready, thinking about the joys of forward looking questions etc.
It’s about, plan for the process and work it through so you give it the best shot but you’ve got to plan for success as well. So whenever you’re in that first day as a Sergeant or Inspector or Chief Inspector, you need to be prepared to be successful. So your plan isn’t just about the technicalities of the process, what’s your first 100 days gonna look like as a Sergeant? So, that would be my advice for people, have a plan.
And then I suppose the other thing is, psychologically, start thinking like the rank that you’re going for. So start thinking as a Sergeant, immerse yourself, what would you do, how would you address that, etc. And just so actually, psychologically, you’re already in that space, and what you’re going for isn’t something to be grasped because you’ve got a confidence you can do the job. You’ve got a plan, you know what good looks like, and you’ve got confidence from all the other parts of your life that in many ways are so much more important than work, but this is something you can absorb and cope with.”
Good food for thought there! I’ve embedded the full podcast below for you to listen to (see my website for all podcast episodes). You’ll notice we also discuss the role of supervisors in doing PDRs well, expectations of leaders, the CVF, Staffordshire’s bespoke values, and much more that may spark ideas, putting you head and shoulders above the competition. After all, this promotion process only exists to promote the best available candidates!
If you are an officer aspiring to promotion in this year’s Sergeant process in Staffordshire, I hope you have found this blog content helpful, and I wish you every success.
Kind regards, Steve
Want to go further right now? Hit the ground running with your promotion preparation. Get your personal digital promotion toolkit, and/or my Police Promotion Masterclass. You can also contact me to arrange personal coaching support. If you first want to explore completely free content, I have a collection of videos, eGuides, a podcast.