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Three keys to forming a working management-training partnership.

How often have you heard someone say, "Let training fix the problem" when a breakdown occurs within a corrections organization? Administrators often look to training staff after a crisis. But before worthwhile training can begin, management and training staff need to work together to map out a comprehensive plan that focuses resources in critical areas where training is needed.

There are three keys to forming an effective management-training partnership: defining the organization's vision, conducting a needs assessment and evaluation, and empowering staff.

Define the Vision

First, management and training staff should work together to write a concise vision statement that includes the organization's mission and goals and incorporates them into every aspect of training. Until the organization's leaders have a clear idea of what the organization is about, where it wants to go and what it expects from its people, effective training cannot begin.

Training's role also must be clearly defined. Training staff and management need to decide what kind of training is needed and who needs it. Instructors can use the vision statement to explain to trainees why they are there and how the training session supports or develops the organization's vision, mission and goals.

This clear definition helps managers understand training's role within the organization. Without an integrated approach, the training department will appear to be filling quotas for mandated training hours rather than providing quality programs.

At the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, our goal is to have all training efforts reflect our organizational vision, and we attempt to express or reinforce our organizational beliefs in every training session we conduct. These beliefs are incorporated into our extensive basic training program, our supervisor training programs and our in-service training programs. We strive to help all staff understand the nature of their work and enable them to be successful at it.

Conduct a Needs Assessment

Second, develop an ongoing needs assessment and evaluation process. This will help pinpoint problems that stem from a lack of skills, knowledge and abilities as well as those that result from a lack of direction, supervision or resources. Problems in the first group can be corrected through training; problems in the second group must be corrected through management action such as disciplining ineffective staff and hiring new employees.

A sterile, one-shot needs assessment conducted by the training department will not provide the crucial information needed to match the training program to the organizational culture. What is needed is a dynamic, ongoing process that involves all levels in the organization and maintains open lines of communication. Small focus group discussions are a good way to allow staff to voice concerns and frustrations that will help build a training program which meets management concerns and staff needs.

Empower Staff

Third, empower middle- and lower-level staff to develop and conduct training. Although "empower" may be an overused buzzword in the '90s, no other word better describes the commitment to training that results from giving staff the opportunity, tools and guidance to develop and deliver a curriculum.

Management needs to be committed to involving all staff in training and to devising ways to include them. The South Carolina DPPPS has successfully used "total quality management" principles to involve field staff in needs assessments and curriculum development. Groups of certified trainers have developed and delivered programs designed to improve teamwork, motivation, safety and offender supervision.

Everyone wins when management and training staff work together to map out a clear plan to address organizational needs.

Renee Bergeron is staff development and training director for the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. Richard Stroker is the department's deputy commissioner.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Staff Education
Author:Bergeron, Renee; Stroker, Richard
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Previous Article:National survey offers insight into staff training budgets.
Next Article:Spotlighting ACA's training division.

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