Leadership Spotlight

Effectively Managing Personnel

A stock image of a female business manager.

Team X felt out of place immediately after the reorganization. They often were not included on office emails or invited to group events, which led to more feelings of division.

Despite receiving kudos and appreciation from external stakeholders, rarely was Team X recognized by their supervisor or colleagues for their efforts. The team’s coworkers were assigned to different, unrelated programs, and they did not understand Team X’s work. As years went by, the team’s separation from the rest of the office became more apparent.

Nothing was done to improve the situation, and many factors could have caused Team X to feel out of place. Two important ones relate to communication and change.

Communication Issues

One possible cause of such a problem is lack of communication. Perhaps no one was informed of the purpose of having Team X transferred to their office. Maybe colleagues were so busy working on their own programs that they did not have time to get to know the team. Or, employees may have thought everyone else knew why Team X was added, so no one brought up the topic.

Changes Within an Organization

Although many people are uncomfortable with change both personally and professionally, organizational change may cause the most anxiety. As law enforcement professionals, we spend most of our waking hours at work, and such changes can significantly impact how we feel going to our job. Work hours can impact lifestyles, job duties can influence our purpose in meeting the agency’s mission, and supervisors can guide office culture. These are just a few changes most of us have faced during our career. Some affect us more than others.

One of the most significant changes can be a reorganization of divisions, precincts, sections, or units. People feel comfortable with where they have been and want to stay. They know their supervisors, responsibilities, and routines.

Any mention of change can rock the boat and cause emotional and mental impact for employees. Further, unsubstantiated rumors of a reorganization can make matters worse. Possible consequences can get blown out of proportion, and the rumor mill will begin to swirl with what may not be executive management’s intended plan.

As much as most of us do not like change, sometimes it is for the best. Like most professions, law enforcement changes. The mission may stay the same, but how it is accomplished may need mending. At the very least, leaders should review how their agency is organized. Are goals being met? Are certain groups of employees heavily engaged while others have extensive downtime between responsibilities? Are programs receiving the support they need in personnel and other resources? Are resources being duplicated and wasted?


Leaders should regularly review teams, programs, and units to ensure they are effectively and efficiently aligned. They should ask themselves if they are holding on to people or other resources because “That’s the way we’ve always done it” or the current structure is achieving the mission. Even more important, leaders must interact with employees regularly to build trust and transparency and keep lines of communication open.

When organizations need to implement changes, leaders who have invested time connecting with employees may face fewer barriers. Such connections can help leaders better understand how specific teams work together as well as reduce the possibility teams feel alienated from those they work with. Further, leaders should ensure the changes make sense in overall organizational goals. Only through getting to know their programs and the employees who manage them will they likely find success and eliminate scenarios like Team X encountered while trying to achieve their mission.

“Leaders should regularly review teams, programs, and units to ensure they are effectively and efficiently aligned.”

Dr. Cynthia L. Lewis, an instructor with the Leadership Education Unit at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight. She can be reached at cllewis@fbi.gov.