June 24th, 2024

LPS addressing performance gaps, says Mehdizadeh

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 23, 2022.

Herald photo by Trevor Busch Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh has been addressing events that he says have shed light on performance gaps in certain departments within the Lethbridge Police Service.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh of the Lethbridge Police Service says allegations that have been brought forward involving the records management unit from a time previous to his tenure at LPS were investigated thoroughly and the results showed that it was not a case of harassment but rather conflict between people.
“The manager had clear directions ever since I got here, from me… that he needs to improve the performance of that unit. And as a result, certain measures were put in place to help employees to be more productive and have actually more of them be better in their performance measures and be able to contribute to public safety,” said Mehdizadeh.
The service has hired Howatt HR, a human resources firm that specializes in psychological health and safety, to facilitate an Employee Experience Listening Tour beginning this month. This initiative was launched as part of LPS’ ongoing efforts to engage employees and provide a healthy, safe and productive work environment.
Mehdizadeh said this came as a result of historical events that have shed light on performance gaps in certain departments and a desire to keep the LPS moving forward.
“Part of that is accountability and accepting responsibility, and also making sure that if we see gaps in our program to address them, because that is what the public wants from the police department,” said Mehdizadeh.
Mehdizadeh said that when looking at the conflict in the unit, hiring Howatt HR was their way of accepting the fact that there are conflict issues and finding a way to resolve them by asking “How can we address them? How can we get people to have a safer environment and able to work better together as a team and not having to spend so much time on actively dealing with conflict?”
“We just wanted to give some expertise to help people move on from incidents that happened in 2014 or five years ago, like we need our employees to focus on today and tomorrow,” said Mehdizadeh.
He said the idea is to avoid performance problems based on something that happened 10 to 12 years ago.
“That doesn’t identify what we have as an organization now. We just want to move forward,” said Mehdizadeh.
Part of the work that Howatt HR will assist with is helping employees who may have been negatively impacted by historical incidents get the supports they require to move to a higher level of employee engagement. Current challenges and strengths of the employees’ day-to-day experience will be identified through one-on-one interviews, as will opportunities to reduce harm, promote mental health and improve workplace culture within LPS.
There was a proposed shift change to achieve a better work-life balance for some civilian staff which was addressed and implemented but for a short period of time.
“The reason for the recommendation of the shift schedule was, especially with our record management unit, there is a lot of work and I recognize they are short staffed and I’m trying to get some more resources, and we found that 12 hours maybe is too long for anyone to be working and that might be causing some of the gaps that were identified from performance in that unit,” said Mehdizadeh.
He said a shorter shift would allow them opportunities to be more focused on their tasks and not make the mistakes that were identified.
“It was just an operational decision to help them be more productive and actually perform at the level that is expected of them, but then again it was implemented for a short time, we pulled it back because there were some grievances on that,” said Mehdizadeh.
He said there was nothing punitive about that, as some are claiming.
“The only way this program or any initiative can be successful for our program, is if people actually buy into it and contribute positively and move forward,” said Mehdizadeh.
He said there is an expectation that they need to be also accountable and productive and also confident in what they do because they need to perform based on the expectations that LPS set, in the same way an average employee is expected to perform.
“If they are below that standard then we have our job to help them to raise their performance to the next level and we will do everything we can in our power to provide them with other systems,” said Mehdizadeh.
He said it is all about the new culture and new ways they are trying to move the organization forward and being more accountable.
“If I expect accountability from my police officers, same accountability is expected from the civilian employees, that is equality, that shows their work means as much to this department, as other police officers,” said Mehdizadeh.

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