Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Message is Clear

I am a realist and know my reputation within the San Diego Police Department. Some of this reputation is well deserved and much is just plain fodder for which I can only laugh. Promotions are subjective and when you think you have done enough to make it, think again. Today turned out to be a very difficult day to say the least. Promotions were announced just before lunch. As I sat at my desk trying to keep busy and occupy my mind I was beckoned into the interview room at Internal Affairs by my Lieutenant. I did not have to be told what was to come. I have been down this path before. Many of you have no doubt shared this experience and I am sure the feelings mimicked mine. The sinking feeling of rejection makes it very difficult to put on a happy face and show support after being told you did not make the cut.

I want to congratulate those who made the cut and got the call telling them they had done enough to get promoted. To those who received the message I did; my condolences. No matter what someone tells you on a day like this, nothing they say can make you feel any better. The platitudes of keep doing what you are doing; you are right there; take the next test, you will make it for sure; you are young, you have lots of time; do not take the pain away of not making it. I am not going to put on a happy face and tell you I am not angry at being passed over for promotion to Lieutenant. But I will tell you the message is clear and I get it.

I did what has become expected of candidates and met with the Chiefs to do the proverbial sales job of why I am the best candidate and should be promoted. I'm still not sure how this process came to be, but I do know it is not a part of any of the processes authorized by Civil Service or City Human Relations. I'm no longer interested in challenging or arguing against such issues. Do you think for a second everyone was asked the same questions or given the same amount of time to present their argument? How many could not or did not even get the opportunity? I did it.

The topic of this BLOG came up during several of my discussions with the chiefs. I knew from the beginning the postings here had struck some nerves with a few of those on the seventh floor. I have gone to great lengths to be supportive of the department when I could and declined to take on some of those departmental issues many of you felt needed airing. I attempted in my own way to direct the blame and anger where it belonged and to give a venue for people to understand how and why certain things had happened and focus a bright light on those responsible for what was going on with the department.

I found myself having to defend my postings and learned quickly certain people did not appreciate this BLOG for what it is. The question was asked of me (more than once) "How can we promote Steve McMillan after all the things you have written on your BLOG?" I was asked pointedly if I were to be promoted would I cease posting to my BLOG. It was very clear this BLOG was in their minds. So today, when I got the notification of non-selection; I had to wonder. Did my critical and pointed blasting of a mayor who would not know the truth if it slapped him upside his head have an impact in my being considered for promotion? What role did this BLOG play?

The message is clear to me. There is no mistaking I am not promotable and not thought of as someone who can lead, mentor, coach or teach younger officers and sergeants on the San Diego Police Department. My reputation; coupled with a willingness to speak my mind; and defend against wrongdoings, have no doubt made me a liability. While I love this department, for which I have given the past 30 years of my life; I hate the politics and those puppet masters who manipulate the strings, hiding behind a cloak of darkness and anonymity.

I have two years and ten months remaining in the DROP. I opted to stay in hopes of making a difference and sharing my experience, knowledge, skills and passion for making the San Diego Police Department a better place to be. I'm not sure at this point if that is such a good idea. As I sit here typing this post; I am angry and tired. I have never been one to throw my sucker in the dirt and will continue to work hard and do my job, giving 110%. My BLOG will continue and I will address those issues of concern as they present themselves. I will maintain my professionalism and stick to facts as I rant about the hot topic of the day.

I am happy for Randy Jones, Bill Stetson, Dan Plien, Roy Moody and Natalie Stone; the five newly promoted Lieutenants. I would work for each of you without question. You have earned your bars and should be proud of your accomplishments. I wish each of you nothing but the best and good luck. If I can ever be of help; do not hesitate to ask. We are after all in this together.

Congratulations to all of those who got promoted today. To those who did not make the cut; my condolences. I also want to thank all of you who offered support and kind words. It is a pleasure and honor to work with all of you. I am confident we will all continue to work together and do what we can to make a difference. Remember family first and be safe.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Keep Your Sense of Humor

Almost nothing is more helpful in dealing with people than a sense of humor. A sense of humor doesn't necessarily mean a knack for telling jokes. Rather, it means the ability to take some setbacks and still see that the world has not come to an end. If you can keep from taking a situation or yourself too seriously, you will get much better results. If you don't take yourself too seriously, there are always things in any situation that are still amusing, that you can still smile about. A smiling, cheerful leader invariably wins more cooperation than a grim or gloomy one.

I read somewhere a story about Ben Franklin's method of persuading others to his point of view. Patience and endurance were the two characteristics he believed necessary to win people over. He assumed people were won over slowly, often indirectly. His philosophy was that if you did not win them over today go after them tomorrow, and the next day.

Ben Franklin's tips for doing this were simple. Be clear, in your own mind, exactly what you are after. Do your homework, so you are fully prepared to discuss every aspect and respond to every question and comment. Be persistent. Don't expect to "win" the first time. Your first job is to just start the other person thinking. Make friends with the person with whom you are bargaining. Put your bargains in terms of his or her needs, advantages and benefits. Most importantly, keep your sense of humor.

If all you do in a crisis is add to the heat and confusion, people will soon lose respect for your abilities under pressure. But if you can maintain your sense of humor when the world seems to be falling apart, people who rely on you will show their appreciation in better work and greater loyalty.

Yes, some problems are serious, but there's nothing to be gained by exaggerating their importance. Get in the habit of taking yourself and your problems less seriously. Learn to smile at yourself and the world as well. You'll get better results and actually have more good things to smile about when you do.

Be safe and remember to put family first!!!