Believe – Encourage – Challenge – Correct

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet, greet and teach over 200 newly appointed Field Training Officers over the last three years.  In that same time I’ve had the chance to meet, greet and train over 100 Field Training Supervisors and Program Administrators.  I am a wiser man today after befriending all these people.  I’ve gained insight and knowledge from each of them.  Opening my eyes to the many ways law enforcement is so similar and the many ways our wonderful profession is so different between agencies and jurisdictions.

I have noticed a common theme among us all.  This one particular topic that dominates a class in FTO School.  One very important question that leaps off the toungues of so many field training professionals in the NAFTO FTO Management class. That burning enigma has been…….How do we train Gen Y? The class grumbles and there is a collective chuckle.

After fourteen years of experience in field training I can share with you that I have seen a wide variety of personalities come through the FTO program.  I’ve trained Baby Boomers who lateral over to my agency from another, mentored members of my elite fraternity known as Gen X and today, police departments all around the country are hiring young Gen Y (Millennial) men and women.  If you ask the Gen X FTOs in the room they will testify that it is their Millennial trainees that have given them all that gray hair (ignoring the fact that we are in or approaching our forties).

I’ve have also been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to attend a number of training classes and seminars on the generational topic.  Arizona POST, NAFTO and the Chandler Police Department have been very generous getting me the training I need to help FTO programs around the state adjust and adapt to a wave of young officers entering the work force.  It has been no secret that the gap between generations is wide and deep.

But good news my friends!  There is help.  Scott Williams is the Chief Solutions Officer for Nxt Level Solutions, a consulting company helping businesses, non-profits and individuals with both internal and external growth.  Mr. Williams has published a great deal of information in regard to leadership and one of the more powerful concepts I took from his teaching was the concept of B.E.C.C.

B.E.C.C. has also translated very well into training young officers from the Gen Y persuasion.  You see Scott Williams said that good leaders should exhibit certain qualities.  Field Training Officers are indeed leaders and should always:

BELIEVE – It is often too easy to become frustrated while training.  After some time the FTO might find themselves no longer believing the employees their agencies have hired are capable.  Training officers can lose confidence in their department to hire quality applicants and eventually the newly hired trainee is climbing a mountain the FTO built because of his lack of belief. It is crucial that our training officers keep the faith.  The Millennial officers we are teaching will be energized when the FTO believes in them and believes in their success.

ENCOURAGE – With a strong sense of belief, the FTO can now be more encouraging.  The day and age of giving your trainee an application to McDonald’s is long gone.  FTOs should be highly energetic, optimistic and mission oriented.  What mission is the FTO so optimistic about?  The mission is always the success of the officer in training.

CHALLENGE – I have found that Gen Y officers can be motivated to perform.  Many perform well.  It’s now up to the FTO and the training program to develop an environment that helps the Millennial be self-motivated. Challenge them to believe in a worthy cause.  Law enforcement is a noble profession.  Plato considered the law officers of his day the “Guardians of Democracy”.  Gen Y men and women are attracted to worthy causes.  Challenge them to latch on to law, order and protecting the community as worthy causes.

CORRECT – Our FTO is now a believer. Our FTO is again now highly encouraging and has learned to challenge the new Millennial.  As trainers we are still expected to correct our new officers when we need to.  Training and teaching have not been removed from our programs just yet!  With that in mind, we need to remind ourselves that Gen Y is far more comfortable with coaches and mentors than they are with drill sergeants.  Tim Elmore is an expert in the field of leadership.  He is the founder of an organization called Growing Leaders and they focus on improving the leadership qualities of the youth of America.  Elmore suggests that we (Gen X and Baby Boomers) should be “Velvet Bricks”.  Soft approach to training and teaching but solid foundation that establishes accountability and responsibility.  Allow trainees to fail while they are being nurtured in FTO programs in order to succeed after they have graduated our programs.

NAFTO has jumped in head first to help Field Training Programs from around the country adapt and overcome the obstacles that the generation gaps can create.  Our basic FTO School focuses on training the officers to better understand generational differences and our Management class helps the program administrators develop a system that bridges the gaps between our generations.

The week of June 16th NAFTO holds its annual conference in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  There we will have classes on managing the multi-generational workforce as well as hear Lt. Gary Cornelius deliver his keynote speech.  Download the Curriculum here or go to the Conference Page.

Please contact us for more information about our conference or the possibility to host a NAFTO school at your agency.


Sgt. Dan Greene
Chandler Police Department
FTO & NAFTO Trainer


Tags: , Last modified: April 1, 2020