My partner and I were working a plainclothes assignment focused on bandits who were committing armed robberies. While we watched two of these crooks, they parked in front of a liquor store. One went inside while the other stayed at the wheel. We quickly deployed. Previous victims had been shot despite their cooperation; we couldn t chance that happening while we watched.
We parked behind the suspects car. As we exited our car, the driver honked his horn. I approached the driver as my partner looked in the liquor store's window. The second suspect exited the store with a carton of cigarettes. He was unarmed. Either they were casing the location and intended to rob it later, or were just purchasing some smokes.
Both were parolees. We established probable cause for a search, found a violation (a dagger in the glove box), and placed both suspects under arrest. As we searched their car, I noticed three stickers on the trunk lid. That's curious, I thought. Opening the trunk, I saw the stickers covered three bullet holes.
Those holes ultimately connected the suspects to an armed robbery. The victim of that incident had fired several rounds as the two criminals fled. The three stickers covered the bullet holes.
Plastic stickers disguising bullet holes are similar to recruiting and retention programs trying to cover flaws in an organization. A recruitment problem can be a red flag indicating a deeper issue. There are many specialized campaign-type programs, strategies and incentives that can and should be used to attract and retain top-quality personnel. They probably will not, however, have lasting impact unless top leadership provides an overall climate that attracts and holds the commitment of employees.
Example: Offering employees cash rewards to recruit others into an unhealthy organization will have only short-term effects. Reality is soon revealed just as those bullet holes were exposed. Leadership must support recruiting and retention strategies through appealing employment policies and practices. An authentic organization will reap many benefits.
Some candidates are initially drawn to an organization because of its reputation. A reputation can result from a good public relations program. That kind of reputation, however, may evaporate quickly. A status that endures is earned through long-term practices, integrity and accomplishments.
Once a strong reputation is built through continual, genuine achievements, members of that organization begin to attract relatives and friends. Their excitement and fulfillment is observed easily and becomes contagious. Studies have shown that officers who appreciate their employment experience will become natural recruiters. These employees know the type of person who will fit into the existing culture. They can spot the attributes of a potential future partner. And, they want to share their job fulfillment with others.
Leaders at every level must work together to establish conditions that attract and fulfill. Organizations known for integrity and sincere care for members attract others naturally. People coming into contact with employees who are genuinely challenged, supported, enriched and fulfilled through their employment want a piece of it. They want to share the obvious pride and fulfillment.
Here are some attributes that will sustain committed employees and build a reputation that attracts others:
1. A sense of family. Teamwork is modeled and rewarded. Mutual care and support is a priority.
2. All family members highly valued. Employees are encouraged and supported to reach their full potential. Training is a high priority. Leadership solicits and values the employees opinions.
3. High standards. Leadership models and demands the pursuit of excellence. The organization is known for its work ethic and effectiveness.
4. A culture of integrity. Corruption is abhorred. Honesty and openness are valued. Commitments are fulfilled and consistency is demonstrated by leadership.
5. Principle-based leadership. Principles are identified and communicated as the basis for policy, strategies, procedures and decisions. Employees understand the why behind the rules.
6. Fair rewards and sanctions. The disciplinary system is objective and fair. Recognition and rewards go to those who earn them. Personnel decisions are objective and fair, not based on personal bias.
Members of an organization with earned pride and fulfillment attract others to join them on point.