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A Negative Workplace and “The Nine Rules to Neutralize Negativity”

Leaders reading blogs, websites, and other public social media venues, can gain the needed edge

Negativity is a growing concern in the workplace. Many stressors in create concerns for management. The economy created a need to downsize companies, lay off employees, cut incentive packages, defer raises, and increase workloads for employees. These stressors created a concern for employee mental health, workplace violence, and negative attitudes. Negativity decreases employee performance, increases safety concerns, and costs the company in productivity.

The first step is to have a leader who is willing to identify and address this issue head on. A proactive leader stays in touch with line personnel and recognizes the early warning signs of negativity. Many times, we find that negativity is the result of a managerial decision, gossip, rumors, or even one bad apple in the workplace. Leaders must demonstrate a genuine concern for the employees wants and needs. Engagement at all levels to create a culture of caring within the workplace is important.

Social media is a marketing and branding tool for many departments. Many departments find social media plays an important part in preventing negativity within your agency. The key to progressively managing your image is paying attention to what your employees post in the social media arena. Proactive agencies create blogs and social media accounts to publish positive aspects of the company and employees. Reading blogs, personal webpages, profession related sites, and other social media venues can give the employer an edge in battling negativity. Internal feedback gained from suggestions, surveys, employee feedback in appraisals, and employee meetings is very beneficial. Utilizing employee feedback tools, like the 90 Degree North Model developed by LeadershipRVA, gives leaders information to facilitate change. This feedback is very specific on how well you as a leader is leading. This information will help you learn to identify the symptoms of negativity before its morale-busting consequences damage your workplace. It will also assist you in preventing and curing workplace negativity. Using social media in marketing and branding you organization is a positive step and not a new concept. Providing the public with immediate information about the news worthy events that employees and the company are doing to help the community and the environment will increase your public image.

Refocusing the workplace is the key to increasing performance when negativity has zapped your organization. Utilizing strategies to prevent negativity will benefit the whole organization. Nine rules to neutralize negativity are:

1. Lead by example. The moral and ethical character of the leadership will directly influence all employees.
2. Increase the ability for input at all levels. Allow employees to express concerns, make suggestions, develop ideas, and have ownership in the policies and procedures. Reading blogs, websites, and other public social media venues, are ways to gain input.
3. Provide responses to the employee concerns in a timely manner. Before the ripples in the pond disappear, a management response is important.
4. Treat people with fairness and consistency. Equality is important for employees. This transparency shows all employees that the department is doing the right thing.
5. Do not use the shotgun effect to address issues. Do not punish the whole organization for one mistake of one or a small group of employees.
6. Explain your actions, decisions, and new policies to all. This makes everyone feel included and important.
7. Give everyone access to training that will facilitate succession management and the ability to gain promotions. Educational opportunities can be a powerful tool to increase morale.
8. Engage employees to be a part of the strategic planning process and have input into the mission, vision, values, and goals of the agency. This can be an education in itself.
9. Develop a plan to review all programs. This gives employees input into changes.

“The Nine Rules to Neutralize Negativity” are merely tools to help prevent negativity and increase morale. Leaders must embrace criticism with an open mind and develop positive responses that build the organization. Put your leadership team to work by challenging them to create a culture within your organization that wipes out negativity and increases morale. Find the best practices and develop strategies to implement these practices in your workplace everyday.

As a leader in fire and emergency medical services, Gary W. Samuels has over 30 years of experience in military, volunteer, and career public safety agencies. Currently, Gary is a Fire Captain and Paramedic with the County of Henrico Division of Fire in Henrico, Virginia. In 2008, Gary gained an appointment to the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Medical Services Advisory Board representing the Virginia Professional Firefighters and the International Association of Firefighters. Gary is a founding partner in Integritas Leadership Solutions, LLC and LeadershipRVA providing training, surveys, and consulting services to public and private organizations that want to improve employee morale and performance.

Breaking Down Tech Barriers

LTE devices and nationwide network pave way for public safety’s future

On a timeline of public safety innovation and advancements, 2012 will be marked as a blockbuster year. The creation of the National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) and forward movement in next-generation 911 (NG911) are a 180-degree turn from what we faced a few years ago. And it’s about time. When I interact with young firefighters and police officers, it’s clear they’ve moved past what agencies provide and have little faith in their department’s technological capabilities. Even while on duty, these first responders are routinely using the very devices many are saying are not reliable or robust enough.

As I look at all the new LTE devices being made today in prototype, I find that I have the same questions about them as I do for iPads, ultralight Netbooks, hardened cell phones and other technologies. Yet the very nature of new technology is uncertain. We are never entirely sure what will work and what will need to be worked on further until a device is placed in a real-world setting – and encounters real-world pitfalls. Public safety agencies must accept this uncertainty and embrace the possibilities instead of looking through the lens of “what I use now is fine.” Once we all begin to accept these changes in technology, industry application will be limitless.

Take, for example, an undercover officer walking down a street with the latest smartphone. But this ordinary smartphone takes on an extraordinary dimension because it’s connected through the NPSBN. With this device, the officer has access to tailored applications that offer speech-to-text translation, full-time location tracking instead of just in emergencies, and real-time video distributed from networks around the city.

Similarly, a firefighter could receive valuable information while en route to a building fire. Technology applications could improve situational awareness by providing that firefighter with current building plans annotated with the incident report, live video feeds from security cameras, and mapping data that tracks the expected arrival times and routes of all responding units. Commands could be sent in real time when deploying each unit around the building. All of this would dramatically cut the response time at the scene because everyone would know what to do before they arrived.

The NPSBN and technological advances also bring big changes to rural areas. Gone are the days of a state trooper patrolling lonely stretches of two-lane and gravel roads with limited to no radio coverage. Instead, patrol vehicles would be equipped with the latest NPSBN router, which would act as the ultimate “gap filler” by automatically changing networks to ensure reliable coverage. Situational awareness would be maintained and the officer would have a lifeline to access information and call for backup when needed.

Every one of these situations demonstrates why we need new technology for first responders. Public safety desperately needs the innovation that’s available in commercial mobile broadband to be leveraged into specific technology improvements for police, fire and EMS. We’ve finally taken the step toward a nationwide LTE network for first responders. Now let’s get the latest technology that can work with it.

What LEOs Must Know about New Facebook Privacy Settings

There’s good news and bad in the new Facebook policies, and much left to be seen

Facebook has made some significant changes to privacy settings. They’re rolling them out to all users over the next few days and weeks, and some of it is good news! But let’s start with the bad news.

Facebook is eliminating our ability to take ourselves out of public search. This is the checkbox that, when selected, prevented your Facebook profile from showing up in searches when the person doing the searching was using a search engine outside of Facebook.

When thinking of your personal profiles on Facebook–the ones you don’t use for police work–it might be a good idea to make a slight name change and rethink whether you want to post yourself in a profile photo.

Janita Docherty, a law enforcement professional in Australia is a leading authoring on officer safety on Facebook. She offers alternative advice as well.

“Click on your Profile picture–it will open to a larger view of the picture–under your name click on the audience icon, which is likely to be a World globe. … This will open a drop down box–change this to ‘Friends.'”

This doesn’t take it away from public view but sets it so your photo isn’t viewable as a larger image to anyone but your friends. It also prevents non-friends from seeing comments associated with it. Docherty adds, “It is imperative that police members who have a Facebook account do what they can to further protect themselves online. This action may also help safeguard the accounts of family and friends.”

There’s good news though and the best part for officer safety is that officers now have more control over photos other people post of them online. Facebook is giving us a Request and Removal tool. Within the “Photos of You” tab, Facebook is providing a direct to the poster tool to request photos be removed complete with a spot to explain why. If that doesn’t work, the same tool will allow us to remove tags of ourselves from multiple photos all at once.

Additionally, there’s a new shortcut to privacy settings. It’ll appear in the upper right corner next to “home” as shown in the image included here.

These changes will be rolling out between now and the end of the year. But, there’s more to these privacy changes. For details, see news of the changes directly from Facebook here.

This Social Media Quick Tip was previously published on LawOfficer.com.

Global Police Tweet-a-thon

Several police agencies have held tweet-a-thons or tweet-the-beat events to create awareness of police work call attention to issues. A few of us have been talking a while about holding an event where police agencies everywhere could have whatever model of tweet-a-thon they want but on the same day and time in an effort to increase visiblity even more. That date for the Global Police Tweet-a-thon has been set for March 22nd of 2013 beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing for 24 hours.

Any police agency can join and tweet any portion of the 24 hour period.

Early entries are from all over Texas and the rest of the U.S. with a few committed from Canada and the UK. Our hope is to get agencies from as many countries involved as possible.

The Mesa County Sheriff in Colorado is one of the agency’s to throw its sheriff’s hat in early. PIO Heather Benjamin explained it this way, “The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office hopes to share a small piece of Western Colorado with the world and highlight the positive aspects of law enforcement. In addition, we look forward to partnering with law enforcement globally through social media. Exciting times!”

And in Louisiana, the Chief of Police in Thibodaux said he’s promoting transparency in policing actions and furthering proactive social media integration. Chief Scott Silveri said his agency will participate in the tweet-a-thon because, “Our participation in the global tweet-a-thon is based on the hope that other agencies break from the reactive isolationist nature of traditional law enforcement, and begin realizing the benefits of sharing timely and relevant information through social media.”

To participate, just email Lauri Stevens at lauri@lawscomm.net with your agency name, contact name and email address. Then mark your calendar for March 22nd. We’ll be in touch with the hashtag to be used for the event.

Click on the flier below to download a .pdf version.

No more hiding from public search in Facebook

Facebook has again made changes with new privacy settings, which will start rolling out to accounts over the next few weeks.

One of the changes is to the Public Search option which is being removed. Facebook account holders who previously used this privacy setting will no longer have this option. This means that as your account name can be searched publicly, ANYONE, including those people who are not on Facebook, may be in a position to find you.

For Officer Safety purposes a suggestion would be to make a slight alteration to your name, so as not to become obvious in a search result, but still enough detail that is known to your friends & family. Be thoughtful to consider the Facebook terms of service (SRR), when doing this. It may also be viable that if you do not want the public to view a personal photo of you, to change your profile picture to an avatar.

The change to public search DOES NOT change who can view your profile. If you have your privacy settings in place, this will not change. For children’s accounts the public search option will remain in inactive for them until they attain the age of 18years, where it will then go public automatically.

Regarding your profile picture and cover photo. The cover photo is the large picture that spreads across your Timeline which is public view by default and cannot be changed. It is best that personal photos, especially of you or your family, are not displayed here.

The Profile picture is the smaller picture which identifies you on Facebook. Every time you post or engage in activity on Facebook this picture represents you. Ensure your profile picture is credible and not displaying anything that may be construed as offensive or detrimental to you or your workplace.

The profile picture is also public by default, however you can click into the photo and change the view, so only your friends can see the larger version of the picture. Changing the audience to friends, disallows the public to view the larger portion of the photo AND any comments or likes that accompany it.

Click on your Profile picture – it will open to a larger view of the photo – under your name and next to where the date is displayed, you will see a grey icon, (in most instances this will be a World Globe), this is the audience selector – click on this to display a drop down box – choose the Friends option.

Just to re-iterate this does not remove your profile picture from the public search view, it only prevents the public from viewing the larger version of your photo AND any comments or likes that accompany it.

Janita Docherty founder and Director of CyberActive Services is a trained Crime Prevention Executive with more than 18 years experience in the field of law and criminal investigation. Janita specialises in Facebook and Internet Safety instruction and is recognised for her work with law enforcement Units dedicated in the fields of E-Crime, Sex Crime, State Intelligence and Tactical Intelligence areas. Janita has an intricate knowledge on the workings of Facebook from a criminal intelligence perspective and is a leader in her field regarding Facebook training to Police and specialist law enforcement departments both in Australia and the United States. Janita has completed training with the Internet Crime Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce, and holds a number of Certifications, including a Diploma in Frontline Management, a full qualification in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), is a Youth Mental Health First Aider and has been presented with a National Service Medal. She is held in high regard within social media and law enforcement domains, for her enthusiasm to educate professionals, regarding online safety and digital reputation management.

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