Yes to less stress

Feb 20, 2013, 08:06 IST | Asha Mahadevan

Police personnel are undergoing a training programme on achieving work-life balance, which is expected to have a positive impact on the way they interact with the public

Police personnel are learning to achieve work-life balance at a special programme conducted by KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Vidyavihar. The training sessions are aimed at helping cops de-stress, motivate themselves and manage time more effectively.

Tanvi Mankodi
Tanvi Mankodi, one of the trainers of the programme, discusses the possibilities of teaching aids with the participating cops. These cops will then train their colleagues. Pics/Sameer Markande

At present, the participants of the programme are from various ranks -- constables to senior police inspectors. They are assigned to several police stations in Zone 6 (which includes the areas of Chembur, Nehru Nagar, Trombay, Deonar, Shivaji Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Mankhurd, Chunabhatti and Govandi). The faculty members of the management college are in charge of the training programme.

Said Professor Asha Bhatia, who teaches Entrepreneurship in the college and is the anchor of the training programme, “We have taught six batches of 70 participants each ever since we started this programme in December. However, Zone 6 alone has about 1,800 police personnel and our aim is to train the entire zone by April. So now we are training police personnel to train their colleagues.” This has been labelled as a Train the Trainer programme. It is a specially designed programme that consists of 14 participants chosen from the batches trained so far.

Prof Asha Bhatia
Prof Asha Bhatia

The Train the Trainer programme was inaugurated on February 14, 2013 by Joint Commissioner, Dr Sadanand Date and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 6) Lakhmi Gautam. Said Date, “This is an introductory kind of training. I don’t think there is any quick fix solution to bring about change in behaviour but this is a good first step.

The course designed by Somaiya Institute’s Prof (Shailaja) Karve and Prof Bhatia is opening their minds and making them see things from a different perspective. We are creating an atmosphere wherein the participants can take charge of their personal and professional life for improving efficacy and satisfaction.

We expect it to benefit the general public. When we train our people to be aware of their behavioural responses then they will have a better approach to police-public interaction. At the same time, the teachers and students of Somaiya Institute, when they interact with the police, they also see them in a different light. It works both ways.”

DCP Lakhmi Gautam was actively involved with organising the classes from the police’s side, to the extent of organising logistics, ensuring the personnel attended the sessions, even attending them personally so they will be motivated to do so too, and monitoring the training based on the feedback.

Said Gautam, “The Train the Trainer programme includes constables as participants. We hope that eventually, they will be able to conduct lectures on their own. This is a vertically integrated course so even if a constable is the trainer, the participants will consist of police inspectors and sub police inspectors.”

Of those who were directly trained in the sessions beginning December, many believe that the concepts are applicable, he said. “They are applying it, especially time management. It is a learning process. We can't quantify it (the change) but it is basically behavioural change, attitude change.”

Asked if that change would affect interaction with the public he said, “Just like negativity and stress reflect in the person’s interaction with others, a positive attitude will also reflect everywhere in life and in all interaction including those with the public.”

Balance life
Said Bhatia, “Cops have long working hours of around 12 hours per day. Work pressures spill over into family time. They have to prioritise. The programme will help the cops improve the effectiveness as they will see how important their role is in the larger picture.”

She added that the cops they have interacted with have told them that the public has a negative perception about them. By improving their self-esteem, their people skills will get a boost, which in turn, will improve their interaction.

The programme includes power point presentations, games and role playing activities where the trainer and the would-be trainers share their thoughts on topics such as conflict resolution, stress and time management, improving attitude and self-motivation.

The trainers try to relate the topics to their students with examples from their lives -- cooking and cricket for example. “Cooking teaches you the importance of time management and preparation; cricket teaches the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship,” says trainer Tanvi Mankodi.

The cops pipe in with their own experience. It is the same with Prof Meenakshi Gupta Aggarwal, who starts her session with an example from the Ramayan. Why did Lord Ram send Lord Hanuman to Lanka, she asks. The majority of the cops in the room are surprisingly aware about this oft-forgotten point. ‘Because they wanted to check whether Sita is really in Lanka or not before they mount the attack,’ they say.

Reconnaissance is a part of their professional lives, after all. The point acts as a springboard for them to discuss the development of self confidence and the importance of support groups. “We are not here to lecture to them,” said Bhatia, who trains the cops in conflict management. “We are all about sharing and exchanging thoughts and ideas. We use games and role-play to explain a concept, such as looking at the larger picture instead of their own self-interest.”

Trainers learn
Said Bhatia, “The police are very motivated about their job. They like to keep themselves updated. They actually think very deep thoughts and many of them are interested in spiritualism. These aspects did surprise us.” The trainers have also had to make a few changes in their approach to the training programme along the way.

“Many participants told us they wanted the printed lecture notes we give them to be in Marathi as it would help them to understand it better. That made us realise we need to communicate more in the local language.” The cops and trainers also discuss how it is possible to put your point across the language barriers with proper pictures and illustrations.

Speak up
Communication is an important subject for the cops too, especially as these 14 chosen ones will be in charge of training their colleagues in subjects such as attitude, self motivation and conflict resolution. Many of these cops, who are otherwise known to be fearless, are still shy when it comes to public speaking.

‘What if something goes wrong? Perhaps we will be unable to explain the topic well enough or do it so quickly we finish a three-hour lecture in half the time?’ They revealed their fears to Prof Meenakshi Gupta Agarwal who explained to them that in the end, it all comes down to having confidence in your abilities.

Police Sub-Inspector Maya Kalgave definitely has that. Kalgave will train her colleagues in time and stress management. Many of those attending her seminar will be above her in rank, but Kalgave is unfazed. “I have done seminars in college.

And ultimately, it is about sharing knowledge,” she said. Pradnya Gamare, a woman police constable who will impart techniques for enhancing attitude and self motivation, agreed, “The rank of our audience is important, but more than that it is the knowledge and experience that we have to share.”

Her colleague, woman police constable Bhagyashree Katkar said that with practice, they will gain the necessary confidence. And building that confidence is what will help them when dealing with the general public, said Gamare. “If I am positive, and feel confident about myself, then I can be positive in my attitude towards you too. I'll be a more patient listener to the complainant,” she explained.

According to Police Inspector Siddheshwar Kamble, “We have a routine - we wake up, do our duty, return home and go to sleep. There is no time to talk to the children or the wife. Here we have got the chance to learn how to work without stress.”

The key to managing stress lies in managing time better and cultivating hobbies, he said. He is raring to get back to work so he can start prioritising , enhance productivity and reduce stress. “With stress, people’s moods change.

Our minds should maintain equilibrium so that we can solve complainants’ problems properly. That’s why it is necessary to pursue a hobby.” But when an officer works 12-14 hours in day, where is the time to pursue any hobby? “You have to make time,” he insists. “It is like what Date saab said: ‘You have a bottle. You say the bottle is full but if you can take some sand and pour it in, there will be place for it.’ That’s how you have to make time.”

Manage time
Constable Sagar Mane said. “The time management skills we've learnt, about how to make a list of all our tasks for each day in order of priority and then complete them, can be used to reduce stress, we can change the way we speak to them.” When asked if he has observed any change Date said, "It is too early to tell (course began in December). The programme is slated to be extended to cops all over the city from, “the next academic year,” said Date.

Course highlights
You can put what the cops are learning to good use in your daily life too. Here are a few salient points:
>> During conflicts with colleagues, friends or family members, it is not always wrong to be the one to step back from the fight in order to reach a resolution.
>> We should believe in ourselves and have a support group who will encourage us.
>> Manage time effectively by prioritising your work for each day.
>> Short breaks can de-stress you and enhance productivity.
>> Work together. You might not feel that increasing your productivity by 10 per cent will be of any help to your organisation, but if everyone in the organisation does it, it will help.

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