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Q&A: How will you support the security staff?

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Security staff, like all of the staff, need to be listened to, sincerely thanked for their work, treated fairly, and held to account across all levels of experience.

Speaking as someone who has always been a member of the front line staff, from day one until this day, I understand the importance of equity, humility, hard work, ambition, service, being a team player, and the need to celebrate the small victories. Too often in administrative heavy institutions, the contrast between those who make policy and those who carry out policy is stark. Front line staff want to be heard, and in many cases have thoughtful and pragmatic input to share, but so often feel minimized and dismissed because their role is not equally valued as those of the decision makers. In my administration, front line staff will have a voice in the conversation and a seat at the table. Suggestions will be welcomed and credit given where credit is due. Encouraging critical thinking, hard work, compromise and a team atmosphere where I and my staff are all clearly working for the same goals TOGETHER will be the basis of my administration’s philosophy.

Thankfulness and gratitude in leadership breeds success and resilience. We forget as we get bogged down in the day to day how far a simple “Thank you” or acknowledgement of hard work can take a person. This is true for both staff and those in our care. Staff need to feel appreciated and that starts with being thankful. As Mark Goulston writes, “study after study has shown that no one is immune from the motivating effects of acknowledgment and thanks. In fact, research by Adam Grant and Francesca Gino has shown that saying thank you not only results in reciprocal generosity — where the thanked person is more likely to help the thanker — but stimulates prosocial behavior in general. In other words, saying “thanks” increases the likelihood your employee will not only help you but help someone else.” Corrections at its core is about helping others. Correctional nurses like me understand this fundamentally and as sheriff this deep understanding of helping others will guide the attitude of my office so we may best serve those in our care.

Fairness, equity and consistency are important qualities to act with as a Sheriff. It is important for those in our care to see that they have a sheriff who is fair and consistent in their actions. It is important that the staff know there is an expectation of performance that is consistent across all levels of employment. We will not be served well as an administration if the bar is not set high for all. The executive administration will be held to the same high standards as the frontline staff and vice versa. We should be working to elevate one another and that is best achieved through consistency of expectation. And to that same end, those who would undermine the work we are trying to do to help and better prepare those in our care, serve our community and enhance the reputation of corrections will be held accountable across all levels of employment.

Corrections is difficult work. There is very little tangible good that one can place a finger on having accomplished in the everyday. Finding moments of personal satisfaction in the work we all do can be challenging at times, but when we find it, it is the momentum that keeps us all working. The success of those in our care is a testament to our hard work too. Offering encouragement, being a positive role model, having a good attitude, being respectful, setting safe and healthy boundaries and creating an environment where success is cultivated is something I want all of my staff to work towards. And in turn, it is my job as Sheriff to support that effort. Recognize hard work and sacrifice. Recognize ambition and curiosity. Recognize initiative and innovation. Recognize those that work for the good of the team and not for the good of self. We do not get better by climbing the mountain on the backs of those we have stepped on to get higher. We reach the top of the mountain by pulling one another up to the peak together.

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