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How to Improve Relationships and Drive Officer Retention

Dr. Jennifer Prohaska
June 10, 2024
June 14, 2024
min read

How is your connection to the officers in your agency? If you have to pause and think twice, it may be time to take a closer look at the relationships in your department. In order to foster the positive cultural changes necessary to drive officer retention, agencies need to work on improving the relationships between supervisors and subordinates. 

Phil Dimartino, a Police Sergeant in a major metropolitan area and one of the primary instructors of Tactical Longevity, has served through an ever-changing political climate, civil unrest, and a pandemic. He points out that policing has changed, and that means supervision has changed as well.  

“The connection you have with your people is what will push them through the hard times, but also push you through the hard times,” Dimartino says. 

Here are his five tips for improving relationships between supervisors and subordinates: 

1. Engage in the culture you want to create 

Culture is built on character, and that character starts with you. If you expect something, you should be doing it yourself. Be present and be available. Make clear expectations, and above all else, let them know how well they’re doing. 

2. Invest – no one is a finished product 

Invest in their ideas. You pass along the responsibility, and they begin to take ownership of their own work product. Coach them up, whether it’s personally or professionally. Help them get where they want to go. 

3. Be Patient – accept that mistakes will happen 

Accept that the majority of these people don’t come to the job with the intention of making your life harder -- mistakes happen. Be prepared to answer the “why”. You can’t give an order without telling the why. They may not be on the same page as you, but at least there will be understanding. 

4. Stay in control – control your emotions, fix the problem 

Work on controlling your emotions. Things will make you angry and press your buttons, but don’t let them take over. Instead, look to correct what made you mad. If it’s poor performance, if it’s attitude, it’s your job to fix it. You’re in control, so fix the problem. In chaotic situations, they’ll look for you to be the one to remain cool, calm, and collected. 

Is your agency stuck in the “but we’ve always done it this way” mentality? Check out this blog post to learn how to move past this negative mindset to help retain high-quality officers.

5. Get personal – put your values on display 

Have a personality. It’s ok to laugh at their jokes, and it’s ok to tell jokes. Once you get to know them, that’s when you put them in the position that they can be the most successful. Let them know who you are by putting your values on display. 

“Some say leadership requires followers, some say influence, but you can’t gain followers or influence without connection,” Dimartino says. “Social connection is crucial to our well-being.” 

▶️ Watch more on this:

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can improve the relationships in your agency, schedule a call with us today. You can also take our 2-minute quiz to pinpoint your department’s strengths and areas for growth. You’ll receive a customized report complete with a tailored analysis with actionable recommendations.

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