Leadership is motivating your subordinates to accomplish the goals and the mission of a department. In order to accomplish this, leaders need to develop trust and a connection with their subordinates. Getting to know your subordinates is important in that you are aware of their goals. Are they on the job to provide for their families? Are they looking to enhance their careers by joining a certain unit? Are they just doing it because they are lost, and this job looked like something interesting to do while they figure themselves out? Whatever their goals are, it should be important that their leader knows what those goals are. Another reason that it is a good policy to get to know your subordinates is to know if there is going to be any issues that may arise and to see if you can head that off. If you go out with your guys/ gals and notice that one of them is hitting the bottle a bit harder than the, then you may have someone with a substance abuse problem. If one of them is trying to start fights in the bar, then they may have an issue with violence that could translate to a problem on the job.
You don’t want to get too friendly with your subordinates. You don’t want to jeopardize the leader subordinate relationship and jeopardize your authority. It’s hard to put the hammer down on someone that you just did a round of tequila shots with the night before. There is a line that leaders can tow that keeps them as the boss, but not so far out of reach that subordinates feel as if they can’t talk to you. It’s the old like that I learned when I became a leader. Don’t take my kindness for weakness.
Finally, this is an important part of being a supervisor. If you show that you care and that you can help them achieve those goals, then they will care about the work they give you. They will put in an effort for someone who put time into them. If there is a problem outside of work, they can head it off before it interferes with work. They may have access to resources that newer officers or employees may not be aware of yet. If they see the boss putting some kind of effort into helping them, it can lead to a sense of loyalty. If the boss really does his job right, that effort they put into their charge will get passed down. The officer that was looked after, mentored and guided will then do the same for the next generation.
What could this mean for the organization? It means more productivity for their officers. Officers who feel as if they are not out there alone with their issues and that some one cares will be more focused on the job. Officers who may be heading down the wrong path can be saved. This can alleviate any embarrassment to the department plus the training costs to train a replacement for a fired employee. This does not always work, however it is better than doing nothing.