"Case Study draft 2"
Case Study: New Girl on the Block Written by Yvonne and Brad Latta and Andrew Graham Overview: This is the case of a new supervisor, younger, focused on a new agenda, taking over a new unit that arose in a police service. The woman appointed as Inspector is young and change oriented. Her assigned staff offer a range of supportive and not so supportive skills. Missions shift. Priorities and skills needed shift. The game is different. How to manage this? This case is useful in examining a range of management issues: leadership, change management, managing challenging employees, getting employee engagement, managing expectations of colleagues and superiors. The New “Girl” Carmella Ostetto has recently been promoted to Inspector within the Belton Regional Police Services, one of the largest and fastest-growing police forces in Canada, immediately adjacent to Boomtown, one of Canada’s largest cities. Carmella’s rise through the force has been almost meteoric. Her time “on the beat” was short, only two years. Most of her experience was gained at divisional headquarters, first as a constable, then sergeant in the Communications Branch, staff sergeant in Corporate Services and, most recently, at headquarters as a special assistant to the Deputy Chief, Operations. She was the first female officer to assume this last role and her appointment, after a relatively short career, raised eyebrows and a few snickers from some members of the force. In the end, Carmella proved that she was a good choice. The Deputy and other senior officers were very impressed, particularly with her ability to grasp concepts quickly, to handle delicate political situations with ease and to get results. Now, at only 33 years of age, she finds herself head of the newly created Police-Community Integration Unit, with a mandate to establish closer working links between the police and Belton’s rapidly growing immigrant community. In particular, the deputy expects the unit to bring police operations and immigrant communities closer together, not just to make the various communities feel better but to actually provide better policing, especially to deal with youth gangs forming along ethnic lines. Carmella is excited by this opportunity to prove herself as the head of a unit but recognizes that she is facing formidable challenges – from within the unit, from distrustful immigrant Yvonne and Brad Latta manage Latta Consulting Ltd, focusing on personnel management, facilitation, training and executive counseling and planning. Andrew Graham is an Adjunct Professor, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, focusing on management, financial management and a range of public safety skill needs. 1 communities and from the Police Service in general. She knows there are some who would like to see her fail miserably. There always have been. The Unit: A Mixed Bag After only one week on the job Carmella has a good handle on what she is facing. Her unit consists of 6 members plus herself. Her staff sergeant, Gary Holsworth, was second in command at the old Police Liaison Unit and brings to the table 22 years of experience and lots of contacts in the community. He also brings some very strong opinions on what’s wrong out there and doesn’t hesitate to voice them. In particular, he slams Canada’s immigration policy at every opportunity and openly questions the motives of some of Belton’s immigrant community leaders. He often speaks fondly of he “good old days” when you could just go down and talk to a couple of well placed “Eyetalians” or Greek guys and they would take care of the street problems themselves. “Can’t do that with these Tamils and Jamaicans,” she heard him say to a colleague. Within these older ethnic communities,Gary is well liked. He attends quite a number of their larger social functions and knows how to work a crowd. Of course, that crowd is increasingly either running businesses, on local and regional government councils or leading lights in law, medicine and banking. In referring to the new communities, Gary’s comments sometimes come far too close to racial slurs for Carmella’s liking. She has had to struggle with what the tolerance bar for language and stereotyping is within the Service. Her own friends outside the Service would never put up with what she hears on a daily basis. On the other hand, she knows that people like Gary have done a world of good with the more established communities. Gary, while he is putting on a good front, clearly sees this unit as a personal slight. He does not see why the old Unit had to be disbanded and certainly cannot fathom why someone so inexperienced as Carmella got the job . He bears her no bad will, but his good will is pretty thin. As far he’s concerned things were going just fine. He sees the new unit as further evidence of the Deputy’s desire to create the appearance that he, the Deputy, is making huge changes. In Gary’s opinion, the Deputy is making a lot of changes to set himself up for a chief’s job somewhere. Gary sees the future much as he did the past. He would like to continue meeting with the same old organizations, preparing lengthy reports that include his take on the “problems” and submitting these reports electronically to the divisions. He’s careful not to step on the toes of operational commanders. Gary is not stupid, and he is well connected. He knows that the Service has to face up to what’s going, but he also feels that just means more of what has been successful in the past. He sees a real risk in “sucking up to the new groups and ignoring our established friendships”. Carmella doesn’t see the unit’s role this way at all. Nor does the Deputy. His expectation, and hers, is that the unit will establish new links within the various communities and invite community leaders to participate in joint projects. Ultimately, the goal is to better protect immigrant communities, actively discourage gang membership and gang activity, and to improve 2 the image of the police within these communities. They are both committed to setting up more formal structures than the Service used in the past. They see Gary’s approach as fine as long as Gary is around. As well, they see it as a ‘good old boy’ approach that ignores the immigrant organizations and sure ignores women and kids. As she has explained to Gary numerous times, the Unit’s role is not solely to provide intelligence information to the divisions but to work closely with operational people to help build better communities. Gary pretends to listen attentively but firmly believes it’s all bullshit. He’s heard it before. He knows that divisions don’t want any interference and that Carmella’s grand schemes will ultimately fail. He’s quite prepared to make only a token effort until that happens. But Gary knows that she does not know how to go toe-to-toe with her ‘equals’, i.e. Inspectors responsible for operational units. Little does he know that Carmella is on to him. But elsewhere in the unit there’s hope. Constable Justin Green, a young African-Canadian, is clearly excited about the prospects of his new assignment. Justin grew up in one of the tougher areas of the Region and understands the challenges for the immigrant population and for the police. Carmella thinks he will be a valuable resource but recognizes that he is sometimes prone to take action before getting all the facts. She looks forward to mentoring Justin. Constable Martine Zednick, transferred in from Domestic Violence, also impresses Carmella, particularly with her no-nonsense common sense approach to what others might mistakenly see as complex problems. Martine is a veteran police officer and single mother of three children, all of whom are now enrolled in college or university education. Martine doesn’t mince her words but rarely offends; people tend to like and admire her. Carmella has noted that Martine can talk to anyone, from unruly kids on a corner to senior officers. Not only is Martine thrilled to be finally off shift work but she clearly wants to prove that she is up to the challenge of her new job. Carmella has already noted that Martine is weak when it comes to writing detailed reports and will need help in this area. She expects Martine to grow into the position rapidly. Of the remaining three members of the Unit there are no apparent standouts nor any liabilities. Except perhaps for Jake. He’s the youngest member of the team, but brings with him a degree in sociology and strong technological skills. But his street experience is limited and Carmella is wondering why he was picked. Granted she herself was young in every important position she ever had, but she was exceptional, and she hasn’t yet seen anything exceptional in Jake. One of her colleagues once quipped snidely that Jake’s uncle appeared to be taking good care of him. But the colleague didn’t elaborate, and Carmella didn’t ask. While Jake appears to be capable, she has noted two potential problem areas: First, Jake’s style of dress would suggest that he thinks he is working undercover rather than representing the Police Service in the immigrant community. Second, Jake is loose with his hours of work, often coming in late and returning late from trips outside the office. On one occasion when Jake arrived late for a meeting, she commented “Nice of you to join us”, clearly displeased. Jake shrugged, said nothing to anyone, plunked down in a chair and started to text message as soon as the meeting resumed. Carmella was not impressed and made a mental note to keep an eye on him. 3 Fortunately, the other members of the unit are rock solid. Ivan is a dependable, quiet officer close to his pension but clearly not coasting. And Christine is a very responsible and competent, albeit rough around the edges, admin person. Carmella thinks that she can count on both of them and that they will respond positively to her leadership. But it’s whether they or the others will respond positively to Gary’s leadership that worries her. Reality Sets In After only a few weeks, Carmella is beginning to feel a little frustrated. Although she thought that she had clearly articulated her vision of the Unit’s role, Gary continues to send her a seemingly endless barrage of dissertations that read like CSIS risk assessments. They are long on detail but short on analysis and conclusions that she can work with. Gary is clearly proud of them. What Carmella has repeatedly told Gary is that she wants to see team members out in the community getting a feel for what’s needed and explaining the general goals of the new unit to anyone who will listen. Unfortunately, from Carmella’s perspective it appears that these forays haven’t gone much further than formal introductions to Gary’s traditional community contacts. As her staff settle into this routine, Carmella is beginning to detect that their enthusiasm for the job is eroding. Carmella partly blames herself. She had expected Gary to get the ball rolling in the community while she approached senior officers at headquarters and in the divisions to explain the role of the Unit and to assure them that the Unit sought to assist them, not impede them, in their routine policing duties. This job turned out to be more time consuming than she had expected as there seemed to be widespread misconceptions about the role of the Unit. From the beginning it appeared that she was facing a ‘turf war’ but she quickly used her considerable skills to smooth ruffled feathers. In addition, she had to set up all the standard procedures for the unit – i.e. overtime reporting, leave and attendance, financial reporting – all the corporate requirements of any modern operation. She was very comfortable at these tasks and knew that no one else in the unit could get administration set up as effectively and efficiently as she could. At their meeting earlier this week, the Deputy had made it clear to her that he he had hoped to receive an operational plan from the Unit outlining priorities for the immediate future. As for the reports he had been receiving, the Deputy stated that he was not much interested in risk assessments or environmental scans. “This is the sort of thing I am used to seeing and often don’t read,” he said. “They are long-winded, short on action and definitely nothing new. Where’s the change here?, he asked. The Deputy was ambitious and politically astute enough to know that he had no chance of ever becoming Chief if he did not handle this file well. With this in mind he reminded Carmella that he had gone out on a limb in both setting up the Unit and appointing her to lead it. He reassured her that he didn’t expect overnight success but he did want to be able to demonstrate to the Chief 4 as soon as possible that some progress was being made. And to impress upon her the importance of success he added: “You know how important this is for the Chief. He wants to reach out and be known as the Chief of the new Beeton, not the old one. The new Mayor is putting the pressure on. We have to perform here.” Carmella assured the Deputy that her team was working on a short-term operational plan that she would present by the end of the month. She expressed concern that she was finding it increasingly difficult to get the attention of some of her colleagues in the divisions. After the initial flurry, it appeared that they just didn’t seem to have much time for her or interest in what the Unit was trying to achieve. The Deputy assured her that he would take care of that when he felt he something viable to work with.. The Week from Hell Carmella began to outline her plan but before she could meet with her other team members, all hell broke loose for the next five days. On the first night a 13-year-old black girl was sexually attacked by a group of three to five young males outside a community centre. She was in hospital in serious condition. None of the suspects had been apprehended. On day two, members of one gang fired shots at at least three members of another near the same centre, in full view of at least 20 people. One shooter was wounded, hospitalized and then taken into custody but the rest disappeared. No one was talking. There were rumours that the shootings were linked to the sexual assault. On day three, a Skri Lankan couple, proprietors of a convenience store, were robbed at knife point and the husband stabbed by two unknown masked assailants. On day four, a group of prominent Skri Lankans met with the mayor and the Chief to discuss why their community wasn’t receiving the same level of policing as other communities. Later that same day a small group of angry Jamaican-Canadians demonstrated in front of police headquarters protesting the lack of results in the sexual assault investigation. And on day five, it got even worse. The same convenience store that was previously robbed was robbed again. Fortunately, no one was hurt this time but Mrs. Samaraweera demanded to know on the front page of the Belton Bugle what the police were doing to protect hardworking people like her and her husband from “these animals”. “We did not come to Canada to be robbed and stabbed,” she cried. The Skri Lankan Benevolent Association complained that police had done very little to investigate these incidents. They demanded a formal inquiry. When the Chief said he wanted to meet with the Association, he was shocked to learn that no one had ever met with the President before. Nor did anyone know anything about him or his organization. This meant the Chief was walking into a completely unknown situation. Throughout it all Gary worked unauthorized overtime writing a comprehensive report entitled Our Deteriorating Ethnic Communities, which upon completion he sent to all divisional heads without Carmella’s clearance. Carmella spent much of her time meeting with operational officers and the Deputy. In addition, she had to contend with a barrage of calls from the media. The Division had clued into the fact that they could avoid some embarrassing questions and considerable work by referring media enquiries to the Services’ newly formed “Immigrant Anti- Crime Unit”. Carmella cringed when she heard this term used to describe her unit. When 5 Carmella finally had time to read Gary’s report, a day after he had sent it to the the divisions, she was appalled at the stereotypical references to various races. Justin Green and Martine Zednick met with community leaders and attended community meetings to assure participants that the police were doing all that they could. Ivan held down the fort and Jake ran here there and everywhere looking like either Starsky or Hutch. Carmella wasn’t quite sure which or what exactly he was doing. She found out in startling fashion when the Inspector in charge of the Armed Robbery Unit charged into her office demanding to know why one of her “motley boys” was screwing up his investigation of the convenience store robberies by questioning witnesses. “Ahh...that would have to be Jake”, she responded. “I’ll deal with him,” she assured the Inspector. Fortunately, the worst was soon over. The very next day, police arrested two robbery suspects, and issued warrants for two gang members believed to have been involved in the sexual assault. Things began to settle down more or less and Carmella had time to really work on her action plan. As she began, she realized that her thoughts kept drifting to the Unit and what’s it’s members were doing at that precise moment. Therein lay her first problem, she concluded. While she had seen herself as the strategic and operational leader of the Unit, she had always expected that Gary would take care of day-to-day managing of the team and its activities. Now she realized that she had a serious problem – she didn’t trust Gary to do this. And it desperately needed to be done. Sitting back she listed the serious internal challenges that had emerged over the past two weeks: • The morale and confidence of the unit’s members was down. Justin Green, in particular, seemed to have lost much of his initial enthusiasm. • Gary seemed to be contributing to low morale by frequently sharing his opinion within the unit that new immigrant groups were far more difficult to deal with than the traditional ones. On one occasion Carmella heard him name certain leaders who he felt could not be trusted. • Jake was increasingly operating as a free agent and resented having to account for his time in the field. His response to her chastisement for interfering in an active investigation was not encouraging. • As a whole, the unit did not seem to be making links to the ethnic communities at the rate that Carmella expected. There were serious external problems as well. Taking out a clean sheet of paper, she listed them. • A serious rift had developed between the unit and the Inspector in charge of the Armed Robbery Unit. He had gone to the Deputy to voice his concerns. Overall, divisional staff appeared to have less and less respect for her unit and support for its mandate. 6 • A coalition of immigrant groups was emerging and becoming more and more vocal in their criticism of police service in their communities. Several of them had appeared on talk radio. She knew that town hall meetings in the communities were soon to follow and that she would be among those on the hot seat. Against this backdrop, Carmella knew that her first priority had to be to get an excellent operational plan into the Deputy as soon as possible. But at the same time she realized that she couldn’t just leave the rest to Gary. But where should she start?, she wondered. This much she knew – she desperately needed to get her act together in a hurry. 7