ABSTRACT This paper examines several aspects of generational diversity and its impact on law enforcement organizations. As the law enforcement profession prepares to move into the future it must also make ready for a changing of the guard, which will soon take place. The Traditionals and Boomers have been joined by two younger and vastly different generations of employees who bring new perspectives to law enforcement. This paper briefly discusses a few of the characteristics most commonly associated with each generation and how generational diversity will: fP CREATE CHANGE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT ORGANIZATIONS. fP AFFECT RECRUITING ACTIVITIES. fP AFFECT HOW TRAINING IS VIEWED BY MANAGEMENT AND PERSONNEL.
fP REQUIRE NEW SKILLS AND MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES TO MOTIVATE A DIVERSE WORK FORCE. fP RESULT IN CHANGING THE DYNAMICS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT MANAGEMENT AND CULTURE. Managing generational diversity will be a challenge that will have a tremendous impact on the future of law enforcement. Organizations will adapt out of necessity, to meet the challenge of successfully integrating four generations.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Generational diversity is an emerging issue for law enforcement. Today! |s workforce is different from any other in history now that four generations are working side-by-side. Law enforcement managers will have to learn to recognize the changing dynamics of personnel and develop strategic new approaches to old problems. Traditionals were simply grateful for jobs and focused on stability, they were not inclined to question authority. Boomers inherited the need for stability and wanted a better life; many focused so much energy on work that it became their identity. Generation X was the first group to question authority, they want to be involved in the decision making process and are unwilling to wait until retirement for their rewards.
Generation Y also wants to be more involved in decisions, have more flexibility, and like Generation X see work as the means to support their lives, not as a basis for self-image as the Boomers did. Creative new recruitment and motivational techniques become critical as the number of applicants drop and the need for qualified personnel increases. Younger members of Generation X and Generation Y are becoming more and more valuable, since their combined population numbers do not match the Boomers! | generation. As the Boomers and older members of Generation X start to retire, competition for candidates will increase sharply. The four generations make up a dynamic and challenging workforce. The differences each generation brings will create exciting changes through organizational change and a shift in management! |s perspective on personnel issues.
Only by understanding and respecting the generational differences, can Management successfully accomplish the blending of these four disparate generations into a unified workforce. TABLE OF CONTENTS Figure 1 Distribution of the Labor Force by Generation 8 Figure 2 Field Training Officer giving directions. 9 Figure 3 Police Chief A. Kirkland 10 Figure 4 Managing the generation mix, four generations in conflict. [video] 14 Abstract 2 Executive Summary 3 Discussion 8 Aspects of Generational Diversity as an Emerging Issue in Law Enforcement 8 The Impact of Generational Diversity on the Dynamics of Law Enforcement Organizations 9 The Impact of Generational Diversity on Recruiting 10 The Impact of Generational Diversity on Training 11 The Impact of Generational Diversity on Motivating and Retaining Personnel 12 The Impact of Generational Diversity on Law Enforcement Managers 13 Conclusion 14 References 15 Employees are the lifeblood of any law enforcement organization, but the new generations of cops just don! |t fit the old mold. The success with which a department fulfills its mission and achieves its goals is entirely dependent on its employees.
The demographics of today! |s population are undergoing a dramatic change, resulting in an unparalleled workforce comprised of four generations working together at one time. While there will inevitably be conflicts and growing pains, generational diversity will result in new dynamics and exciting changes within law enforcement organizations in the coming years. Socio-political historic events and the cultural icons of their time shaped each generation! |s foundational paradigms. These paradigms are the basis of the unique generational needs and expectations, as well as the distinct values and attitudes (particularly about authority) that each generation brings to law enforcement. People who came of age during the great depression or war years tend to think and act differently than those born and raised in peace and prosperity (Lancaster and Stillman, 2002, 13-33). While the Traditionals were simply grateful for jobs and security, each of the generations who followed have been more challenging and have begun to question management openly resulting in employees who refuse to accept! SS because we! |ve always done it that way!" as a viable answer.
As Berry (2002) points out, ! SSthe workplace can! |t be driven by the expectations of any single generation, !" competition and conflict are inevitable. While the experts don! |t agree on the specific birth years that define each generation! SSthe sharp break between the silents and the boomers, obvious to all, has fueled the search for clean dividing lines between the generations that came after!" (Leo, 2003). However, not everyone is clearly divided into a generational group. Lancaster and Stillman (2002) describe 'cusp ers' as being born 'on the cusp' (p. 32) of two generations. Lancaster and Stillman (2002) conclude that cusp ers generally share generational characteristics for both of the generations they straddle and as a result have a better understanding of both.
The following generational characteristics are generalized and variations in individuals occur based on other diversifying factors. According to Lancaster and Stillman (2002), Traditionalists were born between 1900 and 1945. Lancaster and Stillman (2002) also note that this is a compilation of! SS two generations who tend to believe and behave similarly!" and estimate they number approximately seventy-five million (p. 13). If there were one word, commonly used to describe Traditionalists it would be 'loyal' (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002 p. 19).
The Traditionalists are a generation! SS that still has an immense amount of faith in institutions, from the church to the government to the military!" (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002 p. 19). They were taught to follow the rules and this may be why many Traditionalists prefer a formal, structured chain-of-command management style, which is the historical foundation of the law enforcement hierarchy. The Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 according to Lancaster and Stillman (2002) who describe them as the! SSthe largest population ever born in this country!" at an estimated eighty million people (p.
13). While they respect the older generation Boomers clash with Traditionals over communication styles and control. Like the Traditionalists, they are hard workers and Goodrich (2004) notes that for Boomers! SS jobs became their identities!" and Boomers will often say, ! SSI! |m a cop, rather than I work for a Police Department. !" Right now, older Boomers have already started to retire from law enforcement careers. As this trend continues, it will leave a gap in the management structure of many law enforcement organizations. Lancaster and Stillman (2002) say Generation Ers were born between 1965 and 1980 and describe this generation as! SSa smaller but very influential!" group whose numbers are estimated to be approximately forty-six million (p.
13). These are yesteryear! |s latch-key children who grew up to be resourceful and independent. This generation witnessed the recession of the nineties where Traditionalist and Boomers who had been loyal and worked hard all their lives toward retirement were downsized and left out in the cold by private industry (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002, p 24-26). As a result, they have a strong degree of skepticism for institutions and want to be rewarded now rather than later, when they retire.
Older members of this generation have already started to assume supervision and management positions in today! |s workforce. The Millennials, otherwise known as Generation Y, were born between 1981 and 1999. Lancaster and Stillman (2002) describe them as! SSthe next baby boom!" and they number about seventy-six million (p. 27).
! SS! K Strauss and Howe! K predict that they will truly be the next greatest generation (cited by Lancaster and Stillman, 2002, p. 29)!" . Only recently have members of this techno-savvy generation started to enter the workforce. Unfortunately, this generation doesn! |t appear to have any organizational loyalty, as earlier generations did. Goodrich (2004) quotes one Generation Y employee as saying! SSI told my boss if he wants loyalty, to get a dog.
!" It is critical for law enforcement managers to recognize the changing dynamics of law enforcement personnel and develop strategic new approaches to old problems. Motivating and retaining valuable employees will require that law enforcement management recognize that not only does each generation see the world differently, but also that each group will have different needs. Unlike the Traditionals and Boomers, Generation X and Y see a career as the means not the end. In order to successfully recruit, motivate, retain, and supervise personnel, law enforcement managers must embrace the varied dynamics of each generational group and find a way to integrate them into a unified team. DISCUSSION Aspects of Generational Diversity as an Emerging Issue in Law Enforcement The newest aspect of diversity to emerge goes beyond the current definitions of race and gender, to include age. Generational differences represent a critical new aspect to workplace diversity as organizations are faced with four generations of employees with vastly different attitudes and work ethics working together.
Aging Boomers are now being challenged for management positions and surpassed by younger generations with different outlooks and expectations. Figure 1 Distribution of the Labor Force by Generation Note. From: Public Sector Letter, Segal. February 2002 According to the Department of Labor! |s Bureau of Statistics (2002) the American workforce will be made up of four distinct generations during the next five to ten years. The chart to the right demonstrates the shift of distribution by generation from 1990 to 2001.
However, the changing demographics of the workforce, may impact law enforcement much sooner than private sector organizations since most employees are eligible for retirement, after 20 years of service, at a much younger age. As Southard and Lewis (2004) concluded, ! SS with a rapidly dwindling labor pool, it is critical that we work proactively to keep our team on the field. !" ! SSThe comic overtones of dividing and labeling everyone this way are hard to miss, but there is some sense to it, too!" (Leo, 2003). No one wants to be stereotyped; people want to be seen as individuals. It is common to underestimate how much members of a generation have in common, because of the shared key life experiences. Leo Roster once said, ! SSW e see things as we are, not as they are!" an idea that applies to people as well.
While there are significant differences between the generations! | attitudes on a number of subjects, one of the most apparent in law enforcement is the differing attitudes towards authority. The Impact of Generational Diversity on the Dynamics of Law Enforcement Organizations Figure 2 Field Training Officer giving directions. From: Crime Crushers 1985 by Wally Davis Like any other profession, law enforcement personnel will be a blending of people from each of these generational groups. Employees from each generation will have different motivating factors, strengths, weaknesses, and communication styles (Hatfield, 2002). Sometimes it will be hard for different generations to communicate because words and phrases don! |t always mean the same thing to each generation. The generational groups, into which an employee is born, will significantly affect his or her attitudes about law enforcement, citizen contacts, and the level of commitment an employee has toward an organization.
Corporal Marshall Downe n, who has been a member of the Glendale Police Department Personnel Bureau for 24 years, said that the new generations! | different perspectives create a barrier with older personnel (personal interview, November 10, 2004). However, according to Berry (2002), the benefits are worth the efforts to integrate the groups into a! SS cohesive workforce. !" With the current economic conditions, law enforcement agencies are being asked to tighten the proverbial belt and operate on a leaner budget. In a workplace trying to do more with less, police personnel must be able to communicate and cooperate. That means building bridges, internally and externally, to overcome the generation gap. Managers are responsible for fostering an environment where personnel work together effectively to find newer, better ways to accomplish old goals and provide the highest possible level of customer service.
As Police Chief Andrew Kirkland of the City of Glendale Police Department pointed out, employees need to look at the big picture and the younger generations are better at looking outside the box, as opposed to older generations who focus on accomplishing the small day-to-day tasks inside the constraints of how tasks have always been done (personal interview, November 2, 2004). One of the most positive results of generational blending can be creativity, finding new approaches to old ideas and learning to see a problem from another perspective. Generation X and Y employees bring new attitudes, perspectives, and technological skills that some of the Traditional or Baby Boomer employees may not possess. More and more often, the first or second line supervisor may be younger than the employee for whom they are responsible.
As Goodrich (2004) wrote, ! Ssi is creating some interesting dynamics, especially for supervisors. !" Police Chief A. Kirkland said that when he was promoted to Sergeant at 29 he was challenged by supervising a 50 year old Officer and described the situation as awkward (personal interview, November 2, 2004). Figure 3 Police Chief A. Kirkland City of Glendale Police Department The dynamics of generational diversity will significantly impact management strategies and styles in law enforcement organizations in the coming years. Police Chief A.
Kirkland is only one example of the changing face of law enforcement management. He is significantly younger than most of the Glendale Police Department! |s command staff. In fact, at age 42, he had only 18 years in law enforcement when he became Chief of Police. In comparison, the Department! |s Assistant Chief is significantly older and has over 32 years in law enforcement. The Impact of Generational Diversity on Recruiting Recruitment of qualified applicants should be a top priority in all law enforcement organizations. Law enforcement agencies have struggled with a drastically decreasing number of applicants in past years, while the need for candidates increases.
At a national level, law enforcement faces increased competition for qualified candidates and must focus on the needs of those they are trying to attract. Police Chief Kirkland acknowledged that law enforcement would need to! SSchange how it goes after people!" and begin to! SS explore untapped pools!" of candidates (personal interview, November 2, 2004). Law enforcement managers need to make the connection between the needs of personnel and the needs of managing the department. Failure to respond to the changing needs of the workforce leads to poor work quality, conflict in the workplace, and high turnover. Law enforcement has traditionally regarded policing as a 'calling' rather than a career choice.
Therefore, viewing recruitment as marketing may require a major philosophical change for many law enforcement organizations. To recruit new employees and actively reach out to younger candidates, who are needed to replace the aging Boomers reaching retirement age, organizations must expand their horizons and cultivate new methods in recruiting. For example, law enforcement organizations are beginning to explore the use of the World Wide Web as a recruiting tool, as employers in the private sector already do. The internet is an inexpensive and effective medium, which reaches thousands of potential applicants. The Impact of Generational Diversity on Training Training might be one of the most significant human resource functions undertaken by law enforcement agencies. All law enforcement managers know how important implementing effective training is from a liability standpoint, which is why law enforcement officers receive more training now than they ever have in the past.
However, managers must begin to look beyond the old reasons for providing training and examine the role of training in bridging the generation gap. In order to be most effective, organizations need to begin to adapt the content and delivery of training specifically to each generation. According to Fisher (2002), to ensure success in the recruitment and retention of new police officers, it is important to understand how the field training experience is influenced by generational factors. A good training plan is the foundation of police personnel! |s attitudes and practices. Fisher notes! SS! K recruits appear to be responding uniquely to several factors in the design of our current training programs due to their individual and generational characteristics (2002). !" Developing the next generation of experienced and skilled supervisors and managers is vital.
On-going training can appeal to an employee! |s desire to learn and improve an organization! |s ability to retain employees of all generations by emphasizing career growth, paid training, and development. Employee development can be a benefit to employees and employers; managers can not afford to overlook or waste this valuable tool. The Impact of Generational Diversity on Motivating and Retaining Personnel One of the reasons Generation X and Y employees are quickly becoming so valuable is the looming retirements of Traditionals and Boomers. Generation X and Y combined do not equal the population numbers of the Boomers. Therefore, it is essential to develop a plan not only to recruit! SSthe best and the brightest!" (Southard & Lewis, 2004), but to retain existing employees as long as possible and that means finding ways of integrating the generations. Police Chief Kirkland said that based on the different perspectives of Generation X and Y, organizations need to work at engaging employees and finding out what factors motivate them (personal interview, November 2, 2004).
To that end, it is important to recognize that one of the most important factors in determining employee productivity, morale, and retention is day-to-day communication between employees and supervisors. Law enforcement managers will have to evolve and be creative in developing new motivational techniques if they want to retain their employees, who are valuable human resources. Before making assumptions about employee retention based on past experience, law enforcement managers must consider the new generation of employees who have very different attitudes and a whole new set of expectations. Because the incoming group of Generation Y employees will be so large, the workplace will have to change to accommodate their unique attributes.
The Impact of Generational Diversity on Law Enforcement Managers Generational diversity issues affect productivity, customer relations, and personnel retention. ! SS Organizations will be forced to grapple with generational diversity issues whether they want to or not!" (Dominguez, 2003). Shortsightedness and inattention by today! |s supervisors will likely result in the younger generation stepping over them into management positions. Historically, generational mixing was rare and based on formal structure and protocol. Not only will the foundation of law enforcement! |s hierarchy and management styles have to change, the existing culture will have to change as the dynamics of the organization change. Law enforcement mangers need to understand that it! |s not possible to! SSchange the generations, nor reconcile their differences!" (Massey, cited by Hatfield, 2002, p.
73). However, it is possible for organizations to benefit from the! SS diverse perspectives, skills, and strengths of all generations!" (Dominguez, 2003). It is also possible to diminish the inevitable clash between the generations, by understanding their differences. To do so, it is critical that law enforcement managers recognize the differences between various generations interacting in today! |s workplace and examine how the agency! |s culture affects the ability of multiple generations to work together. Organizations, culture, and even management styles will have to adapt to the varying needs of employees from each generation. CONCLUSION Figure 4 Managing the generation mix, four generations in conflict.
[video]From: Tulsan, B. (2002) [excerpt of overview of management training video] Rainmaker Thinking (2002) Managing generational diversity, like other forms of diversity, will mean shifting the philosophical foundation of law enforcement organizations. The four generations represented make up a dynamic and challenging workforce. Meeting the challenge of blending these four generations into a unified workforce will require organizational change, flexibility, and a change in the way management perceive personnel. Managers and supervisors need to understand and respect the generational differences of employees. Everyone in an organization must realize that diversity management is an imperative, not just a politically correct gesture.
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