Core Competencies AND Jail Leadership

By McCampbell, Susan W.; McClellan, Melissa | American Jails, November/December 2017 | Go to article overview

Core Competencies AND Jail Leadership


McCampbell, Susan W., McClellan, Melissa, American Jails


What skills, knowledge, and abilities do jail leaders need in order to be 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 15th installment on core competencies and jail leadership.

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

Core Competency: Manage Labor Relations

Description: Work collaboratively with unions/employee organizations and effectively manage collective bargaining agreements.

Rationale: Clear communication, well-defined regulations, and consistent application of rules are integral to good management in any work environment-and with collective bargaining agreements, they are even more essential. Even if a jail does not have a unionized workforce, managing employee issues, grievances, and concerns is a critical competency of the leader. These efforts include understanding the collective bargaining process, the related laws, and the implementation of bargaining agreements in order to promote effective personnel management and positive labor/management relationships.

Knowledge of:

* Laws governing labor relations, administrative regulations, and the jail's collective bargaining agreements.

* Collective bargaining process and strategies to address workforce issues.

* Issues and concerns of the jail's workforce and the characteristics of a healthy workplace.

* Local political environment relative to the jail's workforce.

Skills to:

* Interpret and understand legal documents and rules governing human resource management.

* Analyze the impact of bargaining agreements and other workforce agreements.

* Negotiating with employees and their representatives regarding employees' issues and concerns.

* Collaborate to identify common-ground.

* Build supportive coalitions with the workforce.

* Use effective interpersonal communications to identify workplace issues.

* Engage in effective strategies to avoid confrontation.

* Mentor peers and subordinates regarding their role in maintaining a healthy workplace.

* Understand the local political environment.

Abilities to:

* Assess the motives and communications of others.

* Open and maintain lines of communication during stressful times.

* Understand long-term implications of workforce issues, employee grievances, and the needs of workforce.

* Be firm, fair, and consistent.

* Remain diplomatic.

* Demonstrate patience.

* Keep connected to the local political environment.

Making Your Jail a Great Place to Work

A familiar lament among midmanagers and jail leaders is the struggle to establish and maintain a workplace where employees want to come to work, are excited about their job duties, and can contribute positively. These discussions too often focus on the employees' deficits and not on the organization's contributions to workplace challenges. This article examines what jail leaders must do to improve the workplace- and employee/management relations.

Anecdotally, jail leaders say that their employees are dissatisfied with their workplace-but how does a leader really know? As always, it depends on how the question is asked and by whom. Two reviews of employees' job satisfaction reveal what most leaders consider to be surprising information.

In 2009, self-reports by employees documented that 65% said their jail was either a good or great place to work, with 77% saying they would recommend their jail as a place to work (Stinchcomb, McCampbell, & Leip, 2009). When this data is discussed today with jail leaders, they scoffat the information-this could not be my jail they say.

In preparing this article, we surveyed graduates of the National Jail Leadership Command Academy (NJLCA) in 2017 to determine if their opinions of the conflict in their workplace were different from the 2009 data. …

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