When your industry is both relied on and often maligned it’s vital that employees act as brand ambassadors, showing the world they can be trusted. However, when public bad behaviour becomes common it’s time to try to re-engage them with the core values of the company.
Calling them “idiots” might not be the first move for most HR pros, but that was the approach taken by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair this week, who circulated a five minute video to members of the Toronto Police force early this week. A police source showed a copy of the video to the Toronto Star, which summarized the bluntly stated contents.
Blair criticized officers for “totally unacceptable behaviour,” including turning off dashboard cameras, being untruthful in court and racist remarks.
“If you want to be an idiot, you don’t get to be an idiot in our uniform, you don’t get to be an idiot diminishing our organization and you cannot hide behind the badge to abuse the authority so carefully earned and so carefully used by all of us,” Blair said.
Earlier in the day, Blair personally addressed senior officers and reportedly went even further than he did on the video.
Footage showing an officer repeatedly striking a civilian was reportedly included in the video, along with recordings of officers using “sexist, racist and profane language”.
“The problem with these video clips is not that they were captured on video,” Blair says in the message. “The problem lies in the behaviour. It’s the behaviour which damages our service; it’s the behaviour that damages your relationship with the people of Toronto.”
He criticized officers who expect special treatment off duty, take shortcuts on the job and whose behaviour unfairly smears their upstanding colleagues.
“You have a responsibility to say ‘That’s not consistent with my values, that’s not the police service I want to belong to,’” Blair said. “It’s the behaviour we all have to stand up to, and if we do that we will truly be worthy of the trust that people have put in us.”
Have you had to address widespread behavioural issues? What was your approach and how effective was it?