Core Competencies AND Jail Leadership

By McCampbell, Susan W. | American Jails, November/December 2016 | Go to article overview

Core Competencies AND Jail Leadership


McCampbell, Susan W., American Jails


What skills, knowledge, and abilities do jail leaders need in order to be a credible and successful? Beginning with the July/August 2015 issue of American Jails, we are exploring the 22 core competencies as identified by jail administrators across the country. Welcome to the ninth installment on core competencies and jail leadership.

In this issue of American Jails, we take a closer look at the core competency identified as "human resources" and recommend several valuable resources related to leadership.

Becoming a Full Partner with Human Resources

Description: Obtain the human resources (HR) needed to achieve organizational goals, then allocate them in a manner that:

* Aligns with the approved budget.

* Supports the jail's vision, mission, and values.

* Assesses employee strengths/weaknesses.

* Properly delegates authority.

Rationale: Because a majority of the operating budget of most jails are expenditures on staff salaries and benefits, the significant priorities are recruiting, retaining, and developing competent personnel. This requires insight into HR issues, both nationally and locally. Moreover, assuring a sufficient quantity and quality of well-trained and highly motivated staff is fundamental to safe and secure jail management, administration, and operations.

Knowledge:

* Jail staffing needs based on objective analysis and relationship to the approved budget.

* Local, regional, and State employment/economic conditions.

* Laws, administrative regulations, bargaining agreements, and policies related to human resources (e.g., ADA, FMLA, etc.).

* Processes to evaluate employee performance and retention strategies to retain the jail's workforce.

Skills:

* Effectively collaborate with HR functions (whether controlled by the jail or not).

* Understand staffing analysis, mandated posts, related staffing responsibilities, and associated training needs.

* Assess HR processes (e.g., hiring process, length of hiring process, screening) and the impact on hiring and retention.

* Determine the impact of employment markets on the jail's ability to recruit and retain staff.

* Collect and analyze the jail's employee data (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity, generation) and develop action plans as necessary.

* Advocate for positions and staff salaries/benefits, as needed, with the funding authority.

* Align the organization's decision-making related to HR with relevant regulations and laws.

* Convey expectations and assess employee performance using valid job requirements.

* Align staffing with the budget, including use of overtime.

* Hold employees accountable and use remedial plans for inadequately performing staff.

Abilities:

* Objectively analyze and prioritize staffing needs.

* Maintain a commitment to staff training and succession planning.

* See the "big picture" in terms of the jail's position as an employer of choice in the community.

* Make fair selection, retention, disciplinary, and other HR decisions on the basis of applicable legal rules and regulations.

* Match performance measures with job requirements.

* Uphold ethical standards (on and off the job).

Without a qualified, trained, and stable workforce, the jail's current and future daily operations-and hence the community's safety-are in jeopardy. Staff shortages are connected to inmate violence, inmate and employee injuries, inadequate care of inmates with special needs, the negative effects of mandatory overtime on people and the budget, and the resulting low morale.

It is often a downward spiral for the jail leader: fewer staff equals mandatory overtime, equals fewer staff. In most jails, employee-related costs comprise 80% of the total facility budget. Although articles and studies (Barrett & Greene, 2016) document the jail-staffing crisis, there are very few solutions offered-other than finding a way to book fewer people in jails! …

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