N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--September 1998

New Management program begins for correction employees
Field employees will be given more decision-making authority

Military-style correctional leadership is about to undergo an overhaul. With the removal of seven layers of management in the Department of Correction, employees will be encouraged to make more decisions at the local level and bring new ideas to the job.

Twenty-four employees have been chosen to take part in a new pilot program which started in July. Managers and potential managers are being cross-trained in a variety of areas by fellow employees within the department. Concerns over the department's explosive growth in offender supervision, coupled with the world becoming more technical, legalistic, political and subject to public scrutiny, managers need better training in how to be as effective and efficient as possible.

Not since the early 1970s, when East Carolina University offered a management development program for corrections, have employees been given training this intensive. Most of the graduates of the East Carolina courses (which equaled a full semester of university-level graduate training) became highly successful correctional administrators. The same is hoped for the new program which, if successful, may become permanent at the Institute of Government.

Mike Evers of NC DOC Staff Training

The department has contracted with LETRA, Inc. of Campbell, Calif., to develop the new training program. It will be the most intensive, challenging, ambitious and comprehensive management development program available within American corrections, according to Jeff Schwartz, president of LETRA.

"This commitment to management development is unusual," Schwartz said. "This program will be far more ambitious than what any other state has."

Schwartz said he was impressed with the quality of work that occurs with offenders, the knowledge officers have, their hard work and how extraordinarily positive they are. He said the department has a good concern for its inmates, whereas, most other prison systems are simply warehousing their inmates.

Schwartz and his staff met in July with top DOC managers before the program's orientation session. Many comments and concerns were addressed about employees' ability to take initiatives and generate new ideas.

"You are going to need managers in the future who can work in a flattened organization, who are more risk takers, more entrepreneurial, more like managers in the private sector," Schwartz said.

Staff Training Director Dan Lilly said that in the current system, risk takers are often seen as mavericks. "That has kept the agency from being as progressive as it could be," he said.

Nebraska's secretary of Correction, Harold Clarke, a member of the course faculty, said corrections can't afford to pay people to be spectators anymore. He said some employees are entrenched and don't want to change, and that people won't change overnight. Managers need to invigorate the next group of leaders, he said.

"Some managers will take it and run with it," Sherry Pilkington, assistant director of Community Corrections said. "It depends on how each individual takes the challenge. We expect the participants in this program to have full support. We can expect managers to take reasonable risks, not foolishness."

Dan Stieneke, director of the Division Prisons, echoed her remarks saying, "There's a difference between risk taking and stupidity. We need to give the people skills to do their jobs."

Correction Secretary Mack Jarvis assured management that employees would still have to stay within the policy while, at the same time, they will be given more autonomous decision making power. "The department already has some new kids on the block -- those who have shown a different leadership style. The Steve Baileys in the western part of the state and the Joe Loftons in the eastern part -- these people are savvy leaders already."

The pilot program has six sessions beginning Aug. 30 and ending June 3.

Mike Evers of Staff Training said a lot of thought went into the selection of the 24 participants and 40 mentors. Participants include: Richard Neely, Charlotte Correctional Center; Helen Harriger, Western Youth Institution; James Lacewell, Guilford; Lynn Summers, Hoke; Mary Lu Rogers, Randall Building; David Mitchell, Rutherford; Margie Lawler, Morrison Youth; J Haynes, Blanch Youth; Bobby Burleson, Anson; Cynthia Butler, NCCIW; Joyce Kornegay, Fountain; George Solomon, DOP security; Wayne Ingram, Hyde; Wayne Talbot, Dan River; Roselyn Powell, Kernersville DCC; John Green, Buncombe JDM; Randy Eggen, Hendersonville JDM; Jennifer Heath, Goldsboro JDM; Cornell McGill, Greenville; Betty Beam, Winston-Salem JDM; Robert Leon, Nash Print Plant; E.A. Christofferson, DOC Manpower; Michael Rothwell, Goldsboro/Cherry DART; and Sylvester Goodwin, Raleigh EEO. u

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