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They Look to YOU!

After completing basic training, new correctional employees are pumped, all excited about getting started on the job. Yet deep down they may wonder how they’ll prove their mettle, if they’ll react professionally to crises, if they’ll remain firm, fair and consistent in the face of day-to-day pressures. They know that theory is one thing, but practice is quite another. 

You—the supervisors and other veteran staff—are the ones the rookies look to. You are the ones who flesh out the lessons taught at the Academy. You are the ones who model to newbies how it all plays out in real life. 

Your responsibility and opportunities in this regard are enormous. You have been given the privilege of “professional formation” of correctional staff who are  the future of corrections. You are effectively in a mentor and instructor role 24/7. You may do so consciously and intentionally by answering rookies’ questions, or by going over an incident and giving them your thoughts on it. Or you may teach and demonstrate by simply doing your job. The way you conduct business is the lesson you teach and pass on to the new generation of employees. 

Among other things, new employees study:

  • The way you cope with crises
  • What you do when you’re verbally attacked
  • How you handle angry or belligerent people—be it staff or inmates
  • What you do when you’re wrongly accused of something
  • How you take care of your physical health
  • How you guard your reputation
  • What you hold dear regarding your job
  • What you do when negative rumors circulate about other employees
  • The way you speak about coworkers in their absence
  • How you wield your power

Through your modeling you can teach integrity, wisdom, courage, strength, balance, compassion, perseverance.

To be able to keep being an inspiration to others, you yourself need to have worthy role models to look up to from your workplace, your personal life, and from key figures in history.

So remember:

When you remind staff that EVERYONE—no matter what their rank—one day will give account for their actions…

When you remind staff that EVERYONE—no matter what their status—is a human being and must be treated as such…

When you make it clear that mistreatment of staff or inmates is not to be tolerated…

When you coach staff on how to perform new tasks…

When you remind staff that anyone, no matter how smart, can make poor choices…

When you refuse to “kick” a colleague who is down…

When you speak to people with respect and kindness…

When you refuse to lie or cover up something…

When you seek the facts instead of assuming things

When you control your anger instead of reacting blindly…

When you show you care for your team members…

When you truly listen and pay attention to your staff’s input…

When you encourage the downhearted…

When you acknowledge your errors or oversights…

When you apologize to coworkers for “blowing it”…

When you remind your staff of the vision of what corrections work is about…

then you make a priceless contribution to your profession and leave your mark on corrections for many years to come.

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