This paper will address organizational behavior as it applies to law enforcement in the criminal justice system. The paper will also describe some important elements of organizational behavior within law enforcement and how those elements can challenge the effectiveness of an agency. Organizational behavior examines the relationships between individuals in an organization and the way those people are motivated and behave. Most companies have a hierarchy, where sub-ordinates report to their managers and managers to their immediate line managers and so on.
One role of a manager is to be a decision-maker and an authority figure. Another way organizational behavior figures into the management role is with the distribution of resources to employees. Distributing resources is one of many ways managers offers support to their employees. Managers also have an important role as an advocate on behalf of their employees when dealing with upper management or other departments within an organization. Managers are also important for facilitating teamwork within their departments (Organizational Behavior 2007).
The ultimate goal of organizational behavior is to improve the performance of people, groups and organizations, and to improve the quality of work life as a whole. As job satisfaction increases, absenteeism decreases. In turn, the same is true; a decrease in job satisfaction shows an increase in absenteeism. This satisfaction improves the performance of the organization and its total function (Schermerhorn, Hunt, Osborn, & Uhl-Blen, 2010). Law enforcement is self-motivating.
Most agencies and states have outlawed the quota system, evaluations based on the numbers of arrests or citations issued. Therefore, the individual officers need to be motivated to do a good job. Monetary issues are usually dealt with through the budget or unions so this cannot factor into the individual motivation process for an officer. Other motivational tools incorporated may come in the form of recognition for a job well done, preferred assignments, additional or specialized training, or new equipment. These are examples of positive reinforcement.
At the same time, poor performance needs to be addressed as well. Policy and law violations need to be addressed accordingly. Punitive punishment methods may need to be employed in these cases. However, to deal with a poor performing employee, the minute positive aspects can be addressed. Small positive performances may include not abusing sick leave and showing up for work on time. When the poor performance is not punitively punished and the small feats are rewarded, the positive reinforcement will prevail.
In certain law enforcement jobs where numbers cannot be used anyway, such as the number of arrests or the number of tickets issued, another system needs to be employed to evaluate employee performance. A supervisor may take into account the completeness and quality of report writing, willingness to help others, response time to calls for service, number of citizen complaints, or sustained complaints. With its traditional, paramilitary structure, law enforcement has proven slow to adapt to change.
Although traditional methods have brought success in the past, relying on these techniques in the future may be dangerous. The modern world has become a place of constant change and transformation. Law enforcement agencies must recognize and welcome emerging trends. Part of this means changing the way they operate, from their organizational structures to their management of human resources (Harvey, 2003). This includes diversity in the workforce and adding technology to the workplace.
Law enforcement has increased the hiring of women and minorities over the past 20 years, partly because of Affirmative Action. Rapid changing technology forces law enforcement to keep up with the times. To deal with the rapidly changing environment in the 21st century, law enforcement’s paramilitary hierarchy with stiff controls and strict chains of command, must give way to a structure that emphasizes network-type communication and flexibility. The most common organizational pyramid, with the chief at the top and officers at the bottom must become reversed.
Instead, the community must sit at the top of the pyramid, followed by officers, supervisors, and finally the chief (Harvey, 2003). In essence, a law enforcement agency answers to the community it serves. These agencies are becoming customer-service oriented and “kinder, gentler” agencies. Many sheriffs’ departments are changing to sheriff’s offices, where they only answer to the Governor and the people. Better educated employees who require less supervision and technological advancements that make information management easier will allow supervisors to increase their spans of control (Harvey, 2003).
Those technological advancements will allow supervisors to supervise their subordinates remotely, check paperwork via an intranet system, and less hands-on will be needed between the employee and supervisor. This will allow the supervisor to complete more work in less time, hence allowing more employees under his or her span of control. This will also allow the employee more freedom to move about and not have the fear of micro-management. These employees will feel more in control of their job performance.
However, these employees need the self-motivation required to perform their job tasks to maintain that peak performance. Organizational behavior in law enforcement is no different from any other type of employment. However, the culture is changing, so the mindset must change with it. The employee workforce must change to understand the changing culture. Technology is also changing the job of law enforcement; “work smarter, not harder” philosophy has made the job easier on the employees.
In turn, those employees must have a certain motivation and education level to remain at their peak performance to maintain the quality of service expected by the people. References Harvey, A. (2003) Building an Organizational Foundation for the Future. Retrieved from http://www. hitechcj. com/organizational_foundation. html Organizational Behavior. (2007). Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Retrieved from http://www. org-behavior. com/leadership-and-organizational-behavior. php Schermerhorn, J. R. , Jr. , Hunt, J. G. , Osborn, R. N. , & Uhl-Blen, M. (2010). Organizational behavior (11th ed. ). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.