Friday, 28 November 2008

Officer's Sifted .. Public Shafted

We all moan about the mountains of paperwork needed for case file preparation but we as a "service" waste countless hours on internal bureaucracy. I was at a retirement do and at the jolly speech, which was quite amusing the Inspector produced an application form from years ago, when my now ex-colleague applied for a new role. Apart from his name, the application actually consisted of about 6 lines of text about why he wanted to join that department. All on one sheet of A4 paper for a role involving firearms.

The system worked well then, you would have been interviewed and they made their choice if they wanted you or not. I'm getting a little sick of the process nowadays. A massive form where the individual officer has to provide examples in the skill areas required. This all takes time and as a supervisor seeking to develop your officer's careers you try and accommodate them where possible. This means off the streets filling in the form, because the cut off date is only two or three weeks away.

Now for some sought after posts this will be replicated across the force area. There will literally be dozens of officers typing away hoping to get through to interview stage. After it's completed you as the supervisor will look at the form and add your remarks. Now it's their application, but to be absolutely honest I could rip every one apart and send them back suggesting they add this or that just to get through the paper sift process. I've done this and have been happy with the application, highly recommending the officer as he/she is a bloody good sort and suitable to the role they aspire to.

I've been left scratching my head on numerous occasions when they get paper sifted. I like to think I know what I'm talking about. I've been through promotion processes and know when an application is sufficiently strong to get to interview stage. The feedback is usually vague and very subjective, like "not a strong example in this area despite hitting the skill areas". So what's the point of filling out the form if they hit the skills wanted and are still dipped? Perhaps I should be writing off my staff for two weeks to complete it to the standard that is obviously required. All it's proves is an aptitude to fill out the form and maybe bullshit well. If you've got somebody digging a tunnel to leave it's not unusual to have four applications in a year. That's a lot of form filling and time off the streets.

This is so unnecessary and should be trimmed down. There are plenty of systems where your work is recorded so maybe all that's needed is a brief application and people look at your previous work and experience. Dare I suggest that there might be a little bit of exaggerating being done on application forms, ranging from gilding the lily to outright lies, making them dubious in any event.

I was in a specialised department years ago and the list of applicants was read to us. Everybody was invited to speak to the Chief Inspector if they wanted to bring anything to his attention either positive or negative. A sergeant was then assigned to check the officer's workload and make enquires at the station they worked. They also expected candidates to come for at least one day's attachment. This weeded out the chaff. They then boarded the remainder and used the sergeants checking of their work to select the best candidates. This functioned perfectly well and ensured the best people were selected. On your first day the Superintendent welcomed you sitting behind the desk in his office smoking his pipe and told you what he expected from you. He always added that if things didn't work out then he would guarantee you got posted to the Division of your choice. What's wrong with that? Everybody knowing where they stood.

This was obviously prior to the formation of Human Resources Units or personnel as they used to be called. Why shouldn't this process be used today? - I thought it was fair. Don't even get me started on the promotion process and how much time is wasted.

No comments: