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Mr. Paulson: Ten Things For Your Successor To Consider!

Jun 01

Once again I will precede my comments with the admission that they are not based in empiricism as much as personal experience. I draw them from a long history of high level participation in a sport and as a military\paramilitary (police) psychologist.

Whether we speak of the Military, the National Police, a Provincial police, or a Municipal Police Service, not unlike a sports team, success brings advantages that make it easier to continue succeeding. The study of sustainable success (i.e. winning) is most often the purview of Sport Psychology. Generally speaking there are a handful of advantages that come from winning. Coaches are familiar with, and can cultivate and build upon these variables in order to increase the chances of creating a “winning team”.

I would like to transpose this experience into the case of a well known and undeniably failing institution; the RCMP. This piece will smack of “if I was the Commissioner” ; even though I realize that something like that could never happen. Those in power simply have too much to lose (personally) to try something “different”. OK here we go, ten solid variables that keep winners winning and build dynasties (and they can be transposed from sport to a police organization):

1) Elevated Mood: Most of us feel good in response to a “win”; while most are disappointed with a “loss”. Remember that stuff you read about the relationship between emotions (body chemistry) and performance? I’ll remind you. It is a fact that emotions can effect performance. Positive moods are correlated with performance; they seem to stimulate increased energy and the resilience (that you read about on this blog) that assists in “bending but not breaking” under stress. Those on a losing streak are more likely to “fold” under pressure, while “winners” have the ability to “play through the pain” (of even a physical injury) and seem to be operating on a “winner’s high”. Organizations are no different than the winners and losers mentioned in this paragraph.

2) Rewarding Context: Whether it’s hockey Moms and Dads or the employees of all levels at RCMP NHQ in Ottawa, those who feel like they are losing leave for home early, regularly using a litany of excuses. Those who feel rewarded by their environment tend to be attracted to it, and find it difficult to leave. Those who feel punished by the job (or more accurately, their supervisors) tend to “bail out” early or find reasons to report in sick and go O.D.S. Consistently the data supports the impression that there is less O.D.S. in those organizations that are known for creating environments that foster success. Moreover, there is more team cohesiveness as people spend more time in cooperation; with the result being increased optimism. The more team-time, the more talk, and increased solidarity, the more success.

3) Awareness: When an organization is branded a “loser” (this is my term, and the brand would more likely be “dysfunctional”) like the RCMP, the membership of that organization will eventually tire of its’ failings being continually brought to the attention of the public. They will become “feedback adverse”. An organization that is regarded more as a “winner” is likely to be populated by those who are more interested in negative feedback and ways to do things better. They seem to have the confidence to recognize that feedback is the beginning of the process that leads to improvement. Due to their belief in this process, they are more likely to see change of routine and practice as the route to improvement and winning. In their minds winning can be found in the mastery of detail.

4) Mindfulness: Most successful athletes understand, no matter which is their sport, that being able to focus intensely on their movement in the moment, is the key to improved performance. Those who are able to master this skill have fewer cognitive distractions (e.g. the “what ifs”) in their “self talk” and can focus more easily. There exists a litany of athletes who were highly successful until they hit a “rough patch”, usually of their own making. This patch and its’ etiology now becomes front and centre in their minds and contributes to a losing streak. The great golfer Tiger Woods could be used as a contemporary example.

5) The Blame Game: In most organizations, being successful makes it more likely that the members of that organization will treat each other with respect. If they are successful the assumption can be made that everyone is good at what he\she is doing. The members of the organization share continuing high expectations of each other’s expected performance going forward. An organization under scrutiny for its’ less than average performance (e.g. the RCMP) has a tendency to “eat its’ own” in a culture of finger pointing and infighting.

6) Public (fan) Support: Most successful organizations have an army of supporters behind them e.g. customers, employees and their families, neighbours, etc. When an organization continues to win, it continues to increase its’ foundation of support. Organizational losers (RCMP?) continue to erode their own support. How else can we explain the exodus of junior members?

7) The Press: Check out who occupies most of the press’ attention? Is it a police service who has more in the winning column than the losing one (e.g. Vancouver P.D?). Or is it “E” Division RCMP, who are unable to win for losing? And note, it is not just today’s news that separates these two, it’s the long view that incorporates history and future expectations. Losing continually, with no real desire or effort to change stimulates the media and other observers to “dig” for past evidence that can result in a rewriting of the organization’s past history so that it suggests continued failure into the future.

8) Awards: This one is like the debutante’s dream of getting invited to the best parties. What is suggested is that if the RCMP was recognized by their peers for excellence they would be invited to the best parties. They may still be invited to the best conferences and exhibitions but they are less likely today to be given the choicest topics, the headliner position, or the best spot to set up their booth. This sort of adulation is likely to maintain a “winner’s” momentum. Who awards “losers”?

9) Autonomy: Successful organizations have more control over their own destinies. Winners are often left alone, as they instill confidence in others. Losers draw attention like a magnet draws metal. Unsuccessful organizations are constantly being offered assistance in the form of reviews, audits, special investigations and committees (in the case of the RCMP, the federal government allows the “outfit” to offer itself these various forms of assistance). Unsuccessful organizations are often caught in a downward “success spiral” as a result of not changing, not updating training and suffering a decline in performance.

10) Organizational losers are constantly dealing with ” rolling heads”. Other than Norm Inkster and Phil Murray can you think of an RCMP Commissioner of the modern era who was at least somewhat respected? This strategy of “it’s harder to hit a moving target” is time consuming. More time is spent orienting the new “coach” than transforming the old game plan and implementing it. It’s difficult to turn an organization around before it stabilizes. A winning organization, on the other hand, has the time and the stability to implement a long term strategy geared toward continuing excellence.

From experience I will tell you that all winning streaks, even dynasties come to and end. Winning is “heady stuff” and makes it easier to become over confident, arrogant, and complacent. However a transformational leader (Mr. Paulson?) will prepare for these inevitable “slumps” by knowing they exist, educating his organization, encouraging mutual respect, and establishing support systems that will increase resilience and the likelihood of a comeback.

The bottom line to all of this is beginning to become “humdrum”!! How can you increase the chances of getting such a leader and\or a return to the halcyon days of the RCMP? Get off your “duff” and take an interest in the organization, yours, and your family’s future, by becoming a member of The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada!!!!!! You are either part of the problem or part of the solution……THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND!!!!!

Dr. Mike Webster
Reg’d Psych. (#0655)

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14 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Dear RCMP,

    It makes me so sad to read this once it is put in context. I was one of those employees who couldn’t have been a bigger fan of the RCMP when I was a kid. Then the day I graduated from depot after all that hard work was an iconic moment of pride in my life. It is something I will never forget. But how sad to know that, after 20 years of working my butt off for you, trying my hardest to do right by you, always striving to make you proud of me for maintaining “the image”…only to find out that now I am the shell of a rag doll. My dreams with you were all fairy tales. I kept waiting for you to step up to the plate and make things better. I made excuses for you, incident after incident, year after year. When we were short-staffed all those years, I didn’t flinch or complain. I was a hard worker. I knew it was MY job to make ends meet for you, putting MY life on the line with minimal resources (little did I know then that money allotted to us was being sent back to the Federal Treasury). Knowing what I know now, after you took my dignity, my sanity and my health, I wish I had never known you. I am filing for a divorce but the damage is already done.

    p.s. You can keep the house.

    Sincerely, one bitter, angry, resentful ex.

    • Toby permalink

      Anonymous, I am sad to hear about your experience. Unfortunately, mine is similar to yours although I am junior in service. I don’t know whether or not that I can make it to 20 years for a reduced pension.

      • Anonymous permalink

        Toby, I am part of a secret group of members from across Canada. Most of these members are in our shoes and that is precisely why we united. We support one another and offer a lot of experienced advice (about topics such as medical discharges, veterans Affairs, dealing with management, MPPAC, etc). Being a part of this group and knowing we are not alone has saved many of us. What we share is confidential. If you are interested in joining us, please send Dr. Webster a message with your email address and ask him to pass it along to me. Dr Webster knows me and he can vouch for me, as I know so many have trust issues. Something else…if you are not a member of MPPAC yet I implore you to join. If you are unsure as to what MPPAC can offer you, please call them and get information. It is imperative that you join now while things are getting harder to deal with. That is when you need them. Don’t wait until it is too late. You’re not alone. Take care of yourself.

      • Toby permalink

        Thank you Anonymous.
        I will consider your invitation.
        As this is a public forum, I will be mindful of who is watching.

  2. Today is the 34th Anniversary of the June 2, 1981 Unsolved Shediac RCMP Assassination Attempt;

    Well I see your point about being naive and in the honey moon faze of your police career. Also no one will burst your bubbles when you are in that phase but time and reality will when the truth hits you square in the face. Don’t get mad, at least no one tried to kill you to get you out of the way and celebrated their achievement after.

    Today I celebrate what most people would consider an even not worth remembering but that is easily said but not done. 34 years ago this day I was setup and shot 5 times point blank, the assailant stole the police cruiser, turned the emergency roof light on and with the help of the members of the Shediac RCMP the assailant got away and dumped the police cruiser off a cliff into the Northumberland Straight. The Investigators and those forces involved in this investigation destroyed and spoiled evidence that would have help identify this assailant, dragged the investigation, close the file and archived it for years till it was posted on the NB RCMP web page.

    Today I also granted an interview to a French Shediac radio station CJSE 89.9 that has been airing this interview on the radio and can be heard on their web page at: http://www.cjse.ca if you speak French and are interested.

    I guess after this we wait for another year to pass…

    And you say you are mad…. with time I guess you will learn to live with your new RCMP revelation. You were just a number and no one really cares.

  3. Rob Creasser permalink

    Please don’t include Mr. Inkster in the group that was “somewhat respected.” He doesn’t deserve that title. He was the beginning of poor leaders that paid more attention to his political masters than the people he was chosen to lead. Mr. Murray was a nice guy but he too didn’t do much for his people. The last descent Commissioner was Bob Simmons. That was a long time ago!!

  4. Don permalink

    I fear the RCMP will never be the organization that Dr. Webster describes in his 10 points and I also find that previous Commissioners, including Inkster and Murray, were among the many who were more interested in their successful careers than in the actual welfare of the Members, and the Force’s many employees.

    I saw no evidence, during my service, of any Commissioner who made any effort to address the problems that still exist today, and have always existed, for that matter. I can’t recall a time when the Force ever had enough human resources to actually do the job without placing Members in danger on a regular basis, nor can I recall a time when bullying was not only accepted, but also encouraged, in many quarters

    Let’s be honest. Although todays Commissioner is just another, amongst the many who preceded him, all LACKING THE DESIRE TO ACTUALLY “LEAD”, for the benefit of all, you can rest assured that if the media, and social media in particular, had existed in its current form, decades ago, it is likely that the conversation would be no different than it is today. All former Commissioners, including the disaster currently at the helm, would fair no better in opinion polls.

    In fact, RCMP management has lost the ability to isolate the “problem child”. Because, with the exception of, perhaps, the Lower Mainland, the Force has always been able to take what is perceived to be a “problem”, and hide a Member in a location where they were unlikely to have an opportunity to voice their concerns further. Punishment deters many.

    While there was a time, during my service, that I did not see a real benefit to an organized effort to represent Members of the RCMP, I now see no other option that would better combat the generational and, many decades old, lack of a level playing field. If the RCMP continues to control the representation of the Members, you will have the organization that you deserve.

    If I had the opportunity, I’d certainly want to be a part of that change. Don’t continue to be made to work alone, without appropriate resources to do your job, including the equipment required. Don’t continue to accept that the RCMP discounts your services, simply because they expect you to do more, with less. Your work is important, but so is your life, together with your physical and mental health.

    Don

  5. saumik901029 permalink

    I would have to agree with Mr Creaser as Norm Inkster was the beginning of our problems in the RCMP under his leadership. His close ties with Mulroney and friends led to some very strange decisions out of Ottawa during that time and if someone else was in charge, maybe there would have been less political interference and more police work would have been accomplished. Inkster went onto a very lucrative career with KPMG where he hired all of his crony friends and depleted the commercial crime expertise from the Force. Yes, we used to investigate white collar crime and if Inkster wasn’t made the Commisionaire, maybe Mulroney and friends would have served time behind bars for the Air Bus scandal!!!!
    In my humble opinion, Mr Murray was a decent man with integrity who was not well prepared to deal with the bureaucracy out of Ottawa. If we were separate from Ottawa and Gov’t, he would have made one hell of a boss! At least he was genuine with no hint of arrogance that I have ever witnessed during his short time and he just didn’t fit that Ottawa model or mould that Inkster and crew began to develop in the 1990’s. If you didn’t have all the titles or law degrees behind your name, you need not apply to the executive ranks because they wanted to turn the RCMP into a corporation that was run by the executives and not by someone who was a good street cop possessing common sense. Common Sense was nowhere to be found in the new models created by the likes of Inkster and Zaccardelli!
    Saumik

  6. Stuart Valair permalink

    Sorry Rob I disagree…The last truly honourable Commissioner was Commissioner Nicholson, 1951-1959, he resigned due to a disagreement over sending 50 Mounted Police to control a labour dispute in Newfoundland. Nicholson regarded the government’s intrusion of police action as a breach of faith which prevented the Force from fulfilling it’s contract with the province, thus his resignation. Since that time the position has become increasingly politicized culminating in the Commissioner of the RCMP being designated as a deputy minister during the Mulroney government in 1984.

  7. It’s always tragic when you hear of anyone being shot, I should know because I was shot in Shediac June 2, 1981 and left there to die while the assailant took off with the police cruiser, he turned on the emergency roof lights, he passed a taxi driver, he was met by three police cruisers and apparently no one stopped him, he got away and dumped the police cruiser off a cliff in the Northumberland Straight at Cap Bimet. Both crime scenes were clean and even my lost articles were never recovered. Someone did a good job cleaning up the crime scenes.

    It hurt to remember the morning I was ordered to work or I would be fired but not as much as being abandonned by the people of Shediac, in my time of need, to cover-up a political mess.

    Moncton is coming together to lick their wounds should be helpful to everyone concerned but it will not erase the memories I can testify to that one. Strange that I did not have that kind of support but I guess to each his own.

    According to Mike Murphy and the RCMP no one has to work on an assassination attempt even if he the only police officer in Canada that his crime was not solved or call a public Inquiry on a police officer unsolved case unless he has public support. However I believe also that if you are not a member of the RCMP you don’t seem to matter.

    Just concluded my 34th year of being shot 5 times without any justice or closure and I can tell you it’s no better than the first one. I guess what goes around eventually comes around if you wait long enough I guess.

    Again it’s tragic to hear of anyone being shot, when you’ve experienced it yourself, no matter who you are or what you do in life. No one deserves to be shot like a dog but sometimes people care more for their animals than for people.

    It’s always a good shift when you can go home

    Clarence Bourque
    Former Shediac Town Police Officer

  8. saumik901029 permalink

    Politicized RCMP represents danger
    No charges laid in Mountie email probe, Oct. 17
    Published on Oct 20 2010
    Re: No charges laid in Mountie email probe, Oct. 17
    Only tinpot Third World countries — and Canada — have their national police force reporting directly to the government of the day. Yet that is what we’ve had since Commissioner Norm Inkster proudly assumed the mantle of “Deputy Minister” and in one stroke politicized the RCMP.
    Most developed countries ensure that the police have an arms-length relationship with politicians, in order to uphold the law impartially, without political interference or favour.
    Yet our Mounties report to a minister and brief him regularly on what they are doing — just as if the RCMP were a government department. No doubt the Mounties also receive regular guidance on their priorities — just like a government department does.
    With the appointment of career bureaucrat William Elliott — rather than a peace officer — to lead the Mounties, the potential for political interference increased even more. As retired Staff Sgt. Ron Lewis said, “The perception is that the arm’s length is not as long as it used to be.” (Lewis is one of the “RCMP Five” who blew the whistle on the pension scandal, and who accused then commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli of blocking internal investigations into the matter.)
    This Access to Information (ATI) case illustrates why it’s such a bad idea for the RCMP to have such a close relationship with the politicians. After 11 years without enforcement, some kind of conviction for interference with ATI is long overdue — but this would be a serious blow for a government already being criticized for gutting the ATI process.
    It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that the RCMP is simply doing its best to avoid embarrassing its political masters — just like a government department does.
    David Hutton, Ottawa

  9. I found this site called “TV Stream Times” that posted the Videos from the June 2, 1981 Shediac shooting case. I was amazed to see that some have over 9,000,000 Million Views & Downloads.

    Can’t believe what the CSJE News Reporter said when he told me “No one in Shediac was interested in your case” and that is why there was no public Inquiry according to former MLA Mike Murphy.

    In 2012 when the Bathurst RCMP wrote they pretty much said the same thing but is it because Shediac wants to keep hiding their sins in this case or is it that the RCMP wants to keep this matter from being exposed, I’m still not quite sure what to believe at this point but I have a strong suspecion about it.

    Never the less here’s the video site;
    http://tvstreamtimes.co/stream/moncton-rcmp-inspector-huot-news-report

  10. The Old NCO permalink

    Can anyone see any real difference between the RCMP and it’s relationship to the Federal Government of Canada and the former KGB and it’s relationship to the former Soviet Government? Both have leaders appointed by the respective Governments that are willing to take orders and carry out the assignments that both these Governments dictate. Management in both organizations is hand picked and Promoted on the basis of being yes people willing to follow every command regardless if it is wrong or lacks integrity. isn’t corruption evident in both organizations? Are priorities not self centered for the advancement of the few at the expense of many?

    The only difference I can see is that the KGH supposedly do not exist anymore and the RCMP is still in bed with the Federal Government of Canada and corruption is alive and well.

    • There are differences between both; one operates under the cloak of darkness and the other just operates anytime but both of them seem to have the support of their leaders and when they move no one can get to the bottom of things.

      A reporter asks me if I would call a News Conference to reveal what happen in Shediac. All I could say was, that probably would turn out very good for me, it probably would end up like Lee Harvey Oswald, I wouldn’t make it to the mike.

      The world as we know it is changing, Old NCO, and it’s getting harder and harder to figure out who’s doing good and who’s doing bad today because of the secrecy laws. I guess I’m old fashion, I like watching old movies, it’s easier to tell the good guy and the bad guy by what they wear and how they act. In my movies the good guy always wins not so in real life and modern times today.

      I guess it will only get worst because of the working relationship between our man made systems of greed who strives on entitlement and getting their own way with little over sight and accountability while feeding on the best of life and on truck loads of money. I don’t think it will get any better soon.

      As for me I feel the only option I have right now is to give up… after 34 years of seeking to help others understand what can happen when you are in the way of those guys and failing to be freed from this prison I was placed in back in 1981 I must rest that I have done all that can be done and I must now live with the fact that they got away with this crime. However I have the assurance that I was not the only one and that there are thousands of others across Canada that has been death the same blow and many of them did not make it to tell their story, as if anyone cares.

      I would not ever in any circumstance ever recommend to anyone to get into police work today or become a politician if they value their lives and their families. It’s just not worth it anymore and most likely never was as we hear of so many front line workers these days who end up killing themselves or being tossed to the side after being injured.

      Today we see yet again another cop in Edmonton who dies in the line of duty. When we are alive we are sometimes a burden to the system that resist change but when we bite the dust it all changes the emotions come out but no tears…. don’t be fools you are nothing but a number to the system and he will be quickly replaced as I was the same week I was shot in 1981.

      Take care and watch yourselves out there.

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