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Active supervision challenge: 10 new habits for police supervisors

Follow these steps to easily apply the 10 skills of active supervision


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It’s Coach Paul once again. Congratulations! We have officially completed our active supervision challenge, which I introduced in January 2021 on Police1.

Over the past several months, I described the 10 skills of active supervision, which I define as the continual and consistent enforcement of the rules of your organization. Those 10 skills are performance management, critical thinking, communication, courage, training, problem-solving, innovation, inspiration, time management and scheduling.

We covered a lot of information, so I thought it would be helpful to choose one new habit from each active supervision skill for you to work on developing in the upcoming New Year. This will serve as a review of our active supervision challenge and give you a head start on your New Year’s resolutions.

10 new habits for the New Year

  1. Performance management: Set clear expectations for your followers. The heart of providing both prescriptive and corrective performance management is ensuring your followers comprehensively understand how to successfully accomplish all that you assign them to complete. Take the time needed to communicate not only what you want them to do, but by when you want them to do it and why it’s important for them to do it.
  2. Critical thinking: Come up with more than one solution to the problem. There are a lot of good ways to improve your critical thinking. The one I would like to encourage you to develop now is training your brain to provide multiple solutions to every challenge you have to resolve. Start with your commute to work or the grocery store. Instead of going your usual way, find an alternate route to your destination.
  3. Communication: Confirm that the messages your followers receive are the same messages you intend to send. After communicating with your followers, ask them follow-up questions to confirm their understanding of what you communicated with them. If they did, good job! If they didn’t, use the feedback to improve the way you communicate with them.
  4. Courage: Use your voice to share your point of view. There are no such things as effective silent supervisors. Effective active supervision requires you to use your voice and speak up when you notice things or when you have something to share with someone.
  5. Training: Read/listen to one good book on the topic of effective supervision. Now that you have begun this active supervision challenge, keep it going. Ask one of your managers or executives to recommend a good leadership book to you and read it. Better yet, get with your peer supervisors and read it together. Continue to learn new things and improve your supervisor skills.
  6. Problem-solving: Identify the causes of problems. Make this the year you stop assuming and start investigating. Become an expert in root cause analysis. Dig deeper as you look into the causes of complex problems; don’t just accept the first cause that presents itself. Remember that often times symptoms look just like causes.
  7. Innovation: Identify four innovations over the course of the year. Have fun with this one! Once a quarter, look for something that you can improve. Get your followers involved in this habit with you. Don’t settle for things remaining the same. Push yourself to find ways of making things better.
  8. Inspiration: Give your followers purpose. Your followers are hungry for inspiration. They spend hours on the internet watching motivational videos and listening to speakers who fire them up and recharge their batteries. Make it your goal to become one of those people for them. Share your reasons for doing what you do. Thank them for their work. And remind them of the importance of their jobs.
  9. Time management: Set goals for the new year. This is the perfect time to think about what you want to accomplish over the next 12 months. As you set your goals, remember the S-M-A-R-T principle, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Set goals for yourself and your team and assist your followers in setting goals for themselves.
  10. Scheduling: Calendar your intentions. Finally, develop the habit of adding everything you talk about or think about doing to your calendar, especially those activities that deepen your relationships with the people you care about, improve your physical health and strengthen your mental and emotional resilience.


There you go! I have provided you with 10 new habits that you can work on developing in the upcoming year.

Thank you so much for participating in this active supervision challenge with me. I have enjoyed our journey together. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what we have covered, or if I can help you in any way.

I’m Coach Paul. Keep your eyes, mind and heart open out there.

Click here to access the entire Active Supervision Challenge series.

Coach Paul Conor, Ph.D., is an organizational psychologist and management consultant who has been working with law enforcement leaders for more than 20 years. He is a former US Marine infantry officer, who led Marines in combat during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Coach Paul is an award-winning author, California state-certified Team Building Workshop facilitator and former university professor. He is also a reserve lieutenant with the Orange County (California) Sheriff’s Department.