W. Michael Phibbs
, MHR, PHR
Public Safety professionals interested in advancing their careers have always recognized the importance of their professional reputations. It is valued as a part of the work ethic in both the private and public sector. With the increased communication potential of social media, one needs to understand the tools available that can define one’s reputation, for good or ill. The private sector, however, is way ahead in using social media sites as a tool in evaluating individuals. A look at a couple of newer websites like Klout.com and Cudeduel.com is instructive. Klout.com allows the rating of an individual and provides a metric in the form of a “Klout Score.” Cubeduel.com is designed to allow subordinates to rate their individual supervisors directly against other supervisors throughout an organization, called the “Cubeduel Challenge.”
Professionals in the private sector, attempting to gain a competitive advantage over others, are beginning to demonstrate their acceptance of this form of validation by adding their “Klout Score” to their resumes or posting it on social media such as Facebook. One’s “Klout Score” will then follow the individual in a way that credit ratings do, and will be available for candidate applying for positions. The technology that created Klout.com and Cubeduel.com will undoubtedly translate to the public sectors; it is only a matter of time. Organizations and command level personnel must understand this inevitability, willingly or not, that social media programs will eventually be created and used as a tool to rate them on their “reputation capital.” Those in leadership in public safety will find themselves receiving for purposes of this article we will call a “Chief Score.” This “Chief Score” will become a score of one’s “reputation capital” and will be based on multiple factors such as leadership ability, knowledge, and overall effectiveness based on measurable outcomes.
Today the workforce is becoming ever more connected through technology and the use of the internet and social media applications. The millennial generation now coming into the workforce is hyper-connected through internet applications that connect them to people around the world. The pace of technological progression over the next few years will see the creation of search engines that will automatically direct inquired to websites that produce a “Chief Score” for agencies overall and people specifically in command level positions. The “Chief Score” will directly impact police, fire and other emergency service personnel by rating command level officers on their “reputational capital.” Potential leadership candidates looking to fill vacancies in agencies will be able to look at a “Chief Score” of an organization to help assess the current environment and organizational culture to determine their “fit” for that organization. Broadly speaking, human resource departments or national search committees looking for primary background information on candidates seeking command level positions receive information on candidates based on interviews and recommendations. In the near future, host agency will be able to search social media programs for critical information that differentiates candidates. The score will become a part of the due-diligence section of the hiring process. The “Chief Score” will not be a panacea for successful hiring of leaders in public safety. Eventually, this will be taken in as part of a total package when determining to hire individuals for command level positions. “Chief Score” type programs will rate individuals on their prior success, and forward thinking, pointing to ones abilities to manage through professional knowledge and skills in a given situation. The combination of these factors together will assist in providing greater insight into the actual ability and character of potential candidates as well as individuals who are currently in leadership positions.
Further, advertised opportunities for lower command positions in public safety will also be able to capitalize on an individual’s “Chief Score” because lower level executive officers will also have a rating score. In public safety, a highly competitive environment exists to fill any command level position. A candidate confident in his/her skills and abilities may readily bring their “Chief Scores” to the interview to set them apart and create a competitive advantage over other candidates. This will serve as a forcing factor for other professional to improve their performance rather than be relegated as a non competitive candidate.
The quality of the “Chief Score” will depend on the validity of the information used to generate the score. Sites may be developed as a genuine tool to provide accurate information on organizations and command level personnel, or simply as a game to rate command level personnel around the country against each other. A positive outlook describes “Chief Score” increasing the transparency of officers, supervisors, and command level personnel ensuring accuracy and eliminating resume “fiction.” Individuals will be held accountable in the public forum accessible to knowledge seekers. A negative outlook would describe a social media application where an individual could make unsubstantiated claims against command level officers. Once information has been placed on the internet, either good or ill, it is impossible to erase and careers may be permanently damaged. Other concerns are individuals attempting to manipulate the data on social media programs to artificially enhance their images.
The influence of a “Chief Score” should give extra incentive for individuals to perform at a higher level when performance evaluations, bonuses and potential advancement are at stake. The “Chief Score” will encourage public safety personnel to be more responsive as well as become more inclusive in their work environment. This will be reflective in a top-down and bottom-up approach to leadership. It will reflect a listening and learning individual who are capable of leading in the 21st Century. The future of public safety personnel does in fact start today. With the future use of “Chief Score” how effective a person is today will be translated into a rating that will be used in employment decision in the future. How prepared are you for this? How prepared are any of us?