lurpaksbone

Promotion Boards - Outdated or Not?

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Like most forces, after the OSPRE part 1 & 2 exams have been passed, promotion candidates in my force are required to undergo a further local assessment. This takes the form of an extended interview with 2 senior officers.

 

The questions start with the cliche "give me an example of when..." and are designed around the behavioural competency framework. The rationale behind this is that it previous performance is an accurate indicator of future performance. This in itself is a contentious notion and there are plenty of examples in every walk of life that dispute this premise. Just look at the premier league; how many seemilngly great football managers have landed at a top flight club with a degree of success at a lower level only to fail abysmally.

 

Although some candidates may have acting rank experience, by virtue of the fact that the process is a promotion board where the candidate is aspiring to a higher rank with new responsibilities, clearly for the majority of officers it will be a trip into the unknown.

 

In terms of the questions asked, many will have a neighbourhood policing slant and ask for examples of activities where community liason or consultation has taken place. Great if you work in this area of policing, but in my force, only 12% or so of all officers have this role. How would a detective in a specialist unit provide credible evidence faced with that line of questioning? I would equate this with asking an officer from a response or neighbourhood team a question about the role of an underwater search unit officer. You would not expect either candidates to be able to answer with any degree of credibility.

 

This brings me to the crux of my argument - we should be assessing the candidates ability not experience. All of the armed services assess their officer candidates over several days of practical activities and then follow up with role specific training once they join up. They don't ask questions such as given me an example of when you have led a team of soldiers in battle.. Of course the reference to soldiers could be replaced with any number of civilian equivilants. They assess each individual on their abilities not experience using tried and tested methods. The result is that the standard of leadership in the military is of a significantly higher standard than the police

 

There will be many that will be saying that we are a public service and not an armed force, however lets have a look at the assessment for the HPDS candidates - officers earmarked for high office within the police service. It is a 3 part process that takes place over several days and candidates are put through series of psycometric tests and activities with professional assessors, not just a 45 minute or so interview board with a couple of old sweats!

 

Surely now is the time to change this farcical process and drag the police service into the 21st century.

 

 

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I agree with you. And I achieved promotion through selection boards. In my day, though, they asked questions to test your ability rather than asking you to give them evidence of times you ...... They would give you a situation and ask how you would react. I would still have been much more comfortable with your suggested method.

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Ive done 4 promotion boards, the last three ive failed by 1 mark, ive been A/sgt on a busy shift for the last 5 years and have dealt with every aspect of being a police Sgt, and yet im still not deemed,  good enough to be a substantive Sgt.

My SMT are quite happy for me to do the job but when it comes to the boards three people i have never met say im not.

 

Very disallusioned by this

 

D 07

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delta07,

 

Mate, I'm not being funny but how can your Force possibly justify you having an acting role for 5years. Have you spoken to the Fed, thats absolutely not correct. 5 years is taking the piss.

 

 

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I heard relatively recently that one can only 'act' for up to three months and if the requirement to cover that higher rank continues then it must be by Temporary promotion. Not sure if that is true.

I hate the whole thing about boards and think that it should be by ongoing assessment around the skills required.

Getting to the Board is minefield in itself, and so subjective. One year I got a board with an 'A' recommendation (meant that my Departmental head said I was ready to be promoted immediately). I obviously messed up my board because I didn't get through and the following year I put in almost the same paper application, 3 areas updated, and failed at the paper sift!!!

As for Boards themselves - one year my feedback was I didn't answer the questions asked. When I went through the questions and my answers to prove that my answer fitted the question I was told, 'Ah, yes. You did answer the question as it was asked but the question is just an introduction to the skill area that you need to sell yourself to us to show how good you are in that area.'

I gave up for a while after that one.

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I acted up for well over a year and was aware of the three month thing. However, I knew that if I raised this issue they'd just find someone else to do the acting and I'd lose the opportunity. So, perhaps to my shame, I kept my god shut and got on with it.

 

We have two promotion boards after Ospre. The first is with three senior ranks and the second is with three lay-persons. They're there to make sure we're not all bigotted. This particular system really, really doesn't work. The best examples I can't quote because they'd make me too recognisible but really, they're not good.

 

I'd keep part one, because a skipper (and guvnor) should know their law. But I'd then sack part 2 because it's unrealistic and do away with the board because it's nonsense.

 

In its place I'd have a pass/fail course, kind of like a PDP/PDR but real and not just lip-service. There'd be modules regarding "proper" leadership and management, not just an assessment of the candidates' ability to spout buzz words.

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Having been an assessor for over 15 years I can advise you that there is more to the board than just being able to do the job. Having interviewed literally hundreds of candidates it is often not their job experience that seperates them. Many people are capable of the next rank but at the end of the day it is a competition and only the top few candidates survive. Ask a senior officer (those doing the interview) whjat they are looking for. Yes they will say the competencies, experience etc but if pressed they will also say loyalty., trust, integrity, role model, enthusiasm, dynamic, self awareness, etc. All skills which although very difficult to assess are there in the mix and do count. Does that make it unfair? Some academics might argue that is the case but assessors are human. The best candidates are those self aware individuals who seek hard often painful feedback from their peers, direct reports and supervisors and act on that feedback. And then of course there is developing your Board skills to present yourself in the best possible light. Not easy but who said it was ever going to be easy. A person I recently coached who came top of their board spent well over 40 solid hours practising. Not preparing - practising and getting feedback from colleagues. Stick with it. 

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