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Effective Practices For Managers And Supervisors

After reading this chapter, the students will have achieved the following objectives:

· ■ Understand the difficulty in arriving at goal consensus within criminal justice organizations.

· ■ Comprehend the importance of organizational structure to employee supervision.

· ■ Know the differences between the human service approach to employee supervision and the traditional model of employee supervision.

· ■ Understand the difficulty in implementing a human service model of employee supervision within criminal justice organizations.

· ■ Explain the guidelines for performance evaluation and supervision.


No type of offender raises the fears of citizens more than the sex offender. How do you effectively supervise such an offender? Driven by a desire to protect society against predatory sex offenders, many states have created sexually dangerous or sexually violent offender statutes providing for the long-term care and supervision of offenders in institutional settings as well as community settings. This raises a question on how to best supervise such a group of offenders.

   In addition, the courts have weighed in on state statutes that are directed toward sexually violent persons and their re-institutionalization subsequent to the completion of criminal sentences. Court decisions have supported the notion that communities have the right to civilly commit sexually violent offenders after their criminal sentences have been completed, but they have also reinforced the idea that civil commitment must include some type of treatment as a justification for the re-institutionalization, and, in some cases, the courts have held that a least restrictive environment must exist, as well as a plan for how offenders will transition to community living. For both mental health and correctional officials, this expectation raises many questions of supervision.

   As more states grapple with the management of sex offenders in their communities, how important will effective models of supervision be in making sure the community is protected, while simultaneously ensuring a treatment program for offenders? These important questions raise other questions and concerns regarding the effective supervision of the most problematical population under the authority of both mental health officials and correctional authorities.

   This chapter examines the topic of supervision and evaluation as it relates to individual performance. As an organizational issue, employee supervision and evaluation has gained heightened importance among criminal justice administrators. In fact, scholars have called into question the basic tenets of personnel supervision and evaluation that have dominated criminal justice organizations for many years ( Goldstein, 1990 ). Most of these traditional efforts focused on “hard measures” of performance (e.g., arrests for police organizations) with very little concern over how these measures in any way related to larger organizational and societal objectives and goals ( Bayley, 1994 ). Current attempts at restructuring police organizations, court systems, and correctional organizations have centered on questions of how employees will be supervised and evaluated, as well as questions about the efficacy of newer methods to maintain control in these organizations ( Skolnick and Bayley, 1986 ). Among criminal justice administrators, the question has become more direct and practical: How do supervisors maintain control of employees so that their behaviors are consistent with organizational goals? A corollary question is the following: What specific changes need to be implemented to enhance the supervision and evaluation of employees? Answering these questions is the focus of this chapter.

   In addition, this chapter examines contemporary methods and models of employee supervision and evaluation. The discussion presented will be guided by the goals and expectations we have for criminal justice organizations. Any examination of personnel supervision and evaluation must include an analysis of the goals we are seeking to achieve. We begin the discussion with the idea of multiple goals, goal consensus, and criminal justice administration; move to an examination of structural aspects of criminal justice organizations; explore models of employee supervision and evaluation; and conclude with a discussion on issues pertaining to employee performance evaluation and supervision within criminal justice organizations.


It is a common and widely held belief that criminal justice organizations are expected to provide multiple services to the community. All components of the criminal justice system have multiple goals and functions. Criminal justice organizations seek  goal consensus —an agreement regarding purposes. In some cases, these goals contradict one another, and it is difficult to discern the primary direction of the organization. Within police organizations, for example, we not only expect the police to provide community protection but also to maintain community order and respond to multiple calls for service ( Goldstein, 1990 :11). These calls for service have very little to do with the traditional notion of being a crime fighter.

Goal consensus: Agreement on the purposes of an organization.

   Egon  Bittner (1970)  posed the central dilemma faced by police administrators in enforcing the law: How should nonnegotiable, coercive force be exercised in a society that stresses freedom, democracy, and peace? According to Bittner, this is typically accomplished through the development of myths, symbols, and various images that legitimize and, in some cases, conceal the very assumptions upon which police organizations function. Similar views have been offered by critics of the modern community policing ideal. To these critics, community policing represents another attempt to justify and legitimize the central function of police, which is to exercise coercive force ( Klockars, 1991 ).

   Others have also suggested that correctional organizations and the courts have operated under similar premises.  Stojkovic and Lovell (1997)  have argued that myths, symbols, and image maintenance cover fundamental ways in which correctional administrators make decisions. Many of these decisions support the idea that the primary purpose of prison is actually punitive control over large segments of the offender population, with very little concern about rehabilitation or change among prisoners. Given the growth in prison populations, it is uncertain how prisons can do more than simply warehouse offenders ( Irwin and Austin, 1997 ).

   Thus, in discussing prison goals, the only consensus to be reached is that there are too many inmates and too few resources to manage them. Lofty assertions about deterrence, selective incapacitation, rehabilitation, and societal protection may be far removed from the operational realities of prisons that are trying to maintain prisoner control under conditions of severe resource shortages. Nevertheless, some research has suggested that the orientations of correctional workers may be more diverse than originally thought.  Tewksbury and Mustain (2008)  show that the correctional orientations of staff vary by role (position) and gender, yet rehabilitation is viewed by all persons in prisons as being more valuable than deterrence, retribution, and incapacitation.

   Such a view is also supported by recent research examining the work of probation and parole officers. To some, given the large number of offenders supervised by probation and parole agents, it is difficult to expect that anything beyond simple surveillance is the primary goal of these organizations. In fact, traditional practices such as presentence reports have come under fire by researchers, who claim that such reports are superfluous because most probationers are “typed” by the officer into specific categories based on offense and criminal history ( Rosecrance, 1986 ). A particular emphasis is placed on the potential threat the probationer or parolee presents to the community. Even so, other research conducted in England suggests that despite the move toward more bureaucratization and efficiencies in probation work, the number one reason people enter the workforce is to assist others; they also cite the importance of relationships to effective change ( Matthews, 2009 ). In fact, for most probation officers, working with people is central to deriving maximum satisfaction from the work.

   Horror stories have highlighted the plight that many probation and parole agents face when one of their offenders is caught committing a heinous offense. The reality, however, is that because of limited resources and an unlimited demand for service, probation and parole organizations, like other social service agencies, will always operate under conditions of scarcity ( Lipsky, 1980 ) and will adapt to their situations as best they can. Moreover, the dual tasks of providing supervision and support will always be present and both will have to be addressed by probation and parole workers seeking a balance in work effort that recognizes both as critical to the mission of probation and parole departments.

   Similarly, court systems face large numbers of cases with too few resources to process all defendants adequately. Critics of the court system point to the fact that many offenders plea bargain and escape justice, while supporters argue that the mandate of due process requires full constitutional protections for all criminal defendants. Represented as the concerns for crime control and due process, the courts face the dilemma of how to control crime while remaining sensitive to the legal requirements of due process for those suspected of criminal activity.

   According to  Walker (1994) , the criminal courts for the most part process lower-level cases; the sheer volume of these cases is what overwhelms the system. Accordingly, the idea that the courts process cases in an assembly-line fashion makes sense. The real goal is the quick processing and efficient handling of cases. Research has shown that this is true and, in addition, that the process is the punishment ( Feeley, 1979 ).

   Because many of the costs of going to court are too high for typical misdemeanant defendants, many will “cop” pleas to lower charges and accept a minimal penalty. To ask for rights, in many cases, would really cost the defendant more money than the penalty of pleading guilty—though the consistency of this finding is questioned by some researchers ( Schulhofer, 1985 , cited in  Walker, 1994 :36). Thus, pleading guilty is in the best interests of most defendants.

   It is the conflict between assembly-line justice, on the one hand, and concerns of due process on the other hand that poses difficulties for the court administrator ( Mays and Taggart, 1986 ). Like the other components of the criminal justice system, the courts have to function within the context of limited resources. It is simply impossible to guarantee that most defendants will receive due process when finite resources dictate to a large degree how due process concerns can be addressed.

   Moreover, larger normative issues of goal consensus overshadow the resource problem in criminal justice organizations. These concerns include how a criminal justice system should look, the degree of fragmentation among system components, and the role diversity plays in its operation. There has been a growing awareness that the criminal justice system as it has been portrayed over the past fifty years ( President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, 1967 ) is not reflective of most local systems of justice across this country. The documented variety and differences across the organizations of criminal justice within the states and the federal government start to raise a question of whether or not goal consensus is a reality or even a desirable state.

    Wright (2004)  has argued that the construction of a monolithic system of criminal justice tied together by the activities of its various components does not make sense either organizationally or politically. Attempting to construct a single “system” of criminal justice contradicts commonly held beliefs about the relationship between the people and their government. Fragmentation, or a lack of unification across the components of the criminal justice system, is often viewed negatively by proponents of a systems approach to criminal justice, yet such a view denies the importance of fragmentation to the democratic principles we cherish about diversity of viewpoints as expressed through the criminal justice system. Without fragmentation and diversity across the criminal justice system, it would be difficult for those organizations to deal with their different and varied communities.

   In this sense, a lack of coordination and unification within the criminal justice system is desirable because diverse points of interest can be expressed and reflected in local systems of justice. To achieve goal consensus within a criminal justice system could be construed as undemocratic and dangerous. In addition, searching for a singular goal may simply be pointless, given the multiple expectations of communities concerning the operations of their local systems of criminal justice.

   Thus, many efforts to integrate local systems of criminal justice into one system are doomed to failure because all of these systems have to respond to local constituencies and environments. This is most true of federal initiatives that mandate specific policies and goals for state and local criminal justice systems. The passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, for example, was an attempt by the federal government to mandate the direction of crime policies in the states; however, critics argue that most crime is local in nature and that these communities should be allowed to dictate how their criminal justice systems will respond to it. Forcing some type of consensus onto the direction and purpose of local systems of criminal justice has always been problematic for legislatures and politicians. The results of such efforts have been questioned by many who have been critical of federal attempts to confront crime ( Conley, 1994 ). Criminal justice administrators have had many organizational difficulties trying to operationally implement plans that are ill conceived and poorly thought out.

   The central objective of criminal justice administrators is to determine the goals of their communities and the most efficient ways to meet those goals. For some communities, attaining specific goals may be less cumbersome than for others. In communities with large, diverse populations, arriving at goal consensus on what the local system of criminal justice should be accomplishing is no small task. Equally important are the methods or strategies employed by criminal justice personnel to achieve community goals. It is at the street level that the reality of criminal justice is presented to the community, and this is why the rankand-file worker, whether that is a police officer on the beat or a correctional officer in a prison, is the most important part of the administration and management of criminal justice organizations. These “street-level bureaucrats” ( Lipsky, 1980 :5) are the essence of the criminal justice system, and how these employees are supervised and evaluated is one of the most pressing issues facing criminal justice administration in this century.


Organizational structure influences employee evaluation and supervision. Organizational structure is defined by size, degree of formality, complexity, and purpose. It is clear, for example, that the size of a criminal justice organization affects how employees are evaluated and supervised. Criminal justice organizations with a large number of employees are more complex, and employee evaluation and supervision methods are constrained and limited in comparison to smaller criminal justice agencies. No one would disagree that the mechanisms used to evaluate and supervise employees in the New York City police department, with close to 40,000 police officers, need to be different from those evaluation and supervision strategies found in a police department of fifty officers.

Organizational structure: The way in which an organization is set up to accomplish its goals, objectives, and tasks. Organizational structure is defined by size, degree of formality, complexity, and purpose.

   Due to the variations found among criminal justice organizations on various dimensions, criminal justice administrators have to be creative in how they devise evaluation and supervision methods. Other issues besides size that can affect the evaluation and supervision approaches employed by criminal justice administrators are budget, differing goals, and the degree to which the organization is centralized or decentralized in its decision-making processes. We offer some general guidelines on evaluation and supervision of criminal justice employees at the end of the chapter.


I have been a Federal Investigator with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for almost twelve years. The mission of the agency is to enforce the federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace and to promote equal opportunity in the workplace. In fiscal year 2010, EEOC had 99,922 complaints filed nationwide, the highest level since its inception in 1965. We also saw a record high of $294 million in relief collected through administrative enforcement and mediation.

   As agents of the employer, supervisors and managers are held to a higher standard under the law and their actions have significant liability implications to the employer. Any missteps by a supervisor and/or manager can lead to costly litigation. As an investigator, I have seen the full spectrum of issues that can arise in the workplace. Some of the issues can be attributed to personality conflicts between front-line supervisors and managers. However, many EEO complaints arise due to the employee’s perception of unfair treatment in the workplace. Employers could minimize complaints of unfair treatment and discrimination with effective supervision and constructive evaluation of employees. The following are ways that poor supervision and undirected evaluation can lead to employee complaints of unlawful treatment in the workplace.

· 1. Lack of clearly communicated rules, policies and procedures. It is of the utmost importance to get subordinates, middle management, and upper management all on the same page. Failing to clearly communicate rules, policies, and procedures leads to confusion about what the expectations are. Well-written policies ensure consistency and will help guide both subordinates and management. For instance, the procedure for an employee to file an internal complaint of harassment should be clearly defined in an employee handbook. In addition, if the employer has a progressive discipline policy, the policy should be clearly defined and easily accessible for both employees and management.

· 2. Inconsistent application of policies and procedures. In theory, being consistent sounds like an easy practice to follow. However, as I see on a daily basis, inconsistencies in the application of policies and procedures can lead to unlawful treatment of employees. Supervisors and managers need to apply policies and procedures the same way to all employees across the board. While unfair treatment and favoritism are not necessarily unlawful, inconsistent enforcement of policies and procedures oftentimes results in low morale among staff. It also can lead to a lack of respect toward management among front-line staff and lower employee production.

· 3. Failure to address problems and concerns. Supervisors and/or managers need to take immediate corrective action when problems arise. For instance, when management becomes aware of a harassment complaint, they have a legal obligation to take immediate action to investigate and prevent further instances of harassment. If the employer is made aware of the harassment but fails to remedy the situation, the employer may be liable for damages caused by the continued harassment. Another situation that requires expeditious action is where an employee exhibits poor performance. Management needs to immediately address the employee so that there are no surprises down the road. If later the employer chooses to terminate the employee, then the employee cannot say that they were never counseled about their performance. When management immediately addresses concerns as they arise, it sends a message to all that certain behavior will not be tolerated. Conversely, when managers do not immediately address problems as they come up, it is just asking for problems in the future.

· 4. Untimely professional feedback and disingenuous evaluation. Supervisors and managers sometimes fail to provide negative feedback and evaluation when warranted. It causes problems when management is not upfront and honest with the employee regarding their performance. Managers should give constructive criticism and praise when necessary. However, managers should relate the criticism to the job and not the person. For instance, it is proper for an employer to point out that an employee consistently fails to meet deadlines, but it is not appropriate to characterize the employee as too slow or too old. This may be perceived as direct evidence of discrimination. When giving praise, it is acceptable to say, “has met the office goals,” but do not use words like “energetic, vibrant, or youthful.” To avoid falling into these traps, it is best to measure performance on objective criteria. Using subjective criteria could lead to discrimination complaints. An employer should also provide rewards to employees that are consistent with the evaluation. For instance, it sends a conflicting message to the employee if an employee is terminated after receiving an outstanding performance evaluation.

· 5. Inadequate supporting evidence and lack of documentation. Ineffective supervisors and managers fail to adequately document performance issues. Without a paper trail of incidents such as memos, performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, etc., the employer is at a major disadvantage. In cases where employers do not have documentation to support issuing disciplinary action or termination, employees are more likely to perceive the action as discriminatory. Therefore, the employee is more likely to pursue avenues of redress, such as filing an internal complaint of discrimination or filing a complaint with a governmental agency. The problem may be remedied by making it a practice to document employee performance issues to support subsequent adverse employment actions.

· 6. Inadequate training and lack of employee development. Employers need to provide effective training at all levels for front-line, managers, supervisors, and human resources staff. Managers need to view training as an investment. Spend the resources on training staff now to avoid potential legal problems later. Supervisors and managers need to know how to handle difficult situations and the proper steps to take. Failing to be well versed in all policies and procedures can lead to complaints of illegal discrimination.

· 7. Management sets the tone in the workplace. Incompetent supervisors and managers need to be held accountable. If not, subordinates may think the behavior is okay. Supervisors should be treated no differently than their subordinates with respect to disciplinary measures and professional development.

   This is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. These are general issues that, in my experience, have led employees to perceive illegal discrimination in the workplace and take subsequent legal actions against their employer. By taking the aforementioned issues into consideration, supervisors will go a long way to enhance the supervision and evaluation of employees consistent with agency mission and vision and legal requirements that guide and direct pubic agencies.

SOURCE: Monica Lozer, Federal Investigator, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Models of employee supervision have proliferated over the past few decades ( Rainey, 2014 ). These models of employee supervision serve as a guide and direct employees. Public agencies seeking improvement in the quality of employee supervision have attempted to apply the principles and practices of private-sector management to the public sector (see  Ouchi, 1981  Peters and Waterman, 1982 ). Some applications have been in the criminal justice system. Our objective here is to show how these ideas translate into specific models of supervision. The reader is asked to place these models within the contexts described previously—namely, an organizational goal context and an organizational structural context.

Models of employee supervision: The ways in which organizations guide and direct their employees.

The Traditional Model of Employee Supervision

The traditional model of employee supervision stresses centralized authority, clear-cut rules and regulations, well-developed policies and procedures, and discernable lines of authority operationally through a chain of command—in short, high degrees of centralization, formalization, and complexity. Contemporary critics, however, question the effectiveness and appropriateness of this model of supervision to the changing societal expectations of the criminal justice system. We will have more to say on this line of criticism later. For now, it is useful to flesh out the key elements of the traditional model of employee supervision used in most criminal justice organizations.

Traditional model of employee supervision: A model that emphasizes clear rules and regulations, division of labor, span of control, delegation of authority, and employee specialization within organizations.

   The traditional model is made up of the following elements: a hierarchy that stresses an identifiable span of control, a precise unity of command, and a clear delegation of authority; rulification; and specialization of services and activities of employees ( Gaines, Southerland, and Angell, 1991 ).

   Span of control refers to the appropriate number of employees that can be managed by any one supervisor. What this magic number should be has been part of the debates among scholars and practitioners alike. This concept can be applied both to employees and the people they supervise. For example, span of control is a central question in the delivery of services to probationers and parolees ( McShane and Krause, 1993 ). Concerns over the maximum number of probationers who can be supervised by one agent have plagued community corrections officials for years ( Clear and Cole, 1994 ). For police departments, span of control refers to the number of officers that can be reasonably monitored by a supervisor.

   Unity of command refers to the placement of one person in charge of a situation and an employee. The importance of this concept to traditional supervision revolves around multiple and conflicting orders from supervisors. For control and supervision to be maximized, there has to be one supervisor, known by every employee. In this way, confusion about directives and commands is reduced, and the employee is aware of to whom he or she must report. In the words of one correctional administrator, “There have to be one chief and a lot of Indians in prison.”

   Delegation of authority maintains the integrity of the organization by clearly defining tasks and responsibilities of employees, as well as delegating power and authority to complete required tasks. For police organizations, this means providing employees clear direction on what their responsibilities are, the necessary skills to accomplish tasks, and the requisite authority to achieve objectives. Each employee understands his or her role in the accomplishment of tasks and where they fit into the larger goals of the organization.

   Rulification emphasizes the importance of rules and regulations to the organization. Every policy, procedure, and directive must have some specific written referent. In this way, clarity of organizational tasks and purposes is maintained, as well as documentation concerning appropriate behaviors by employees. As a control mechanism, rules, policies, and procedures are the essential components of the organization. One cannot imagine a police or correctional organization existing and functioning without well-specified rules, policies, and procedures. The rules define the scope and direction of criminal justice agencies.

   Specialization involves the division of labor in criminal justice organizations. Each employee knows his or her tasks and is held accountable for those tasks. Specialization enhances employee supervision because it is through exact job definition that employees can be evaluated, disciplined, promoted, and dismissed. In most cases, increases in specialization enable advances in employee supervision because there is an increase in responsibility, yet increased specialization may also create administrative coordination problems ( Gaines, Southerland, and Angell, 1991 :101).

   Through the concepts of span of control, unity of command, delegation of authority, rulification, and specialization, supervisors are presumed to enhance their supervisory capabilities. For decades, training within police departments and correctional organizations has stressed these important concepts for effective employee supervision. Current advocates, such as  DiIulio (1987  1991 ), argue that the role of effective management should not be downplayed. DiIulio believes that greater attention should be paid to improving the effectiveness of managers and administrators.

   Although his ideas were originally presented within the context of prisons, it is clear that they have equal relevance and application to other criminal justice organizations, such as police departments. Recently, however, research has questioned the efficacy, effectiveness, and efficiency of such a model. Critics point out many practical difficulties with the traditional model of supervision such as increased role stress experienced by correctional staff ( Lambert, Hogan, and Tucker, 2009 ) and the perceived unfairness of bureaucratic processes to answer questions of fundamental fairness in criminal justice operations ( Tyler, 2004 ).

   One of the most ardent critics of the traditional model of police supervision has been  Fyfe (2004a : 146–156). In his view, traditional ideas about police supervision and employee performance have been predicated on largely fictionalized accounts of the police role and inappropriate assessments of police work; they are, he says, more often than not based on perceptions of police supervisors with no input from the officers themselves. The traditional model of supervision stresses arrest statistics, for example, as one outcome measure of performance, yet there is no consideration of the relationship between arrest activity and the realization of organizational goals.

   As such, Fyfe argues that it is not clear how the elements of the traditional model of police supervision actually enhance the supervisory process and, more important, how the model itself is related to the goals of police organizations. What gets produced instead is a fractured and misleading picture of police as primarily “crime fighters.” In addition, critics have argued that the traditional model produces authoritarian supervisors, precludes organizational innovation, stymies information flow, and reduces the motivational levels of officers (see  Gaines, Southerland, and Angell, 1991 :105–107).  Skolnick and Fyfe (1993 :117–124) have argued that many police problems can be traced to the paramilitary style that pervades police organizations.

   If such criticisms are correct, the utility of the traditional model to the attainment of organizational goals must be questioned.  Goldstein (1990 :157) suggests that the reason the traditional model of employee supervision has lasted so long relates to the ease with which supervision can be routinized. Under the traditional approach, supervision is rather straightforward and predictable. Asking police supervisors—sergeants and lieutenants, in particular—to supervise through innovation consistent with the changes and demands of the community is a more difficult task.

   For example, community policing efforts, while expanding the role of rank-and-file officers through decentralization, create enormous challenges for the immediate supervisor. Supervisors now have to respond to the demands of the community in ways that often defy routinization. Furthermore, supervision defined as control becomes more difficult under arrangements that place individual officer autonomy as a higher organizational imperative. For these reasons, traditional police supervisors are highly suspicious and unaccepting of contemporary attempts to redefine the police role more consistently with community policing or problem-oriented police models. These models of police management accentuate the importance of attending to multiple expectations of the community and, as such, demand new ways of doing business in police organizations.

   Similarly, correctional organizations are going through changes that are calling into question the relevance and usefulness of the traditional model of employee supervision when faced with competing and multiple demands from the community ( Johnson, 2002  Stojkovic and Farkas, 2003  Wright, 1994 ). Correctional institutions, parole agencies, and probation departments are all being asked to protect society from criminals; in addition, they are expected to do something productive with offenders so that criminal propensities are reduced. This, too, is no simple set of expectations. Nevertheless, such expectations are altering the context within which correctional agencies, as well as other criminal justice organizations, are functioning. Newer models of employee supervision have been proposed to augment the functioning capabilities of employees to meet these new challenges.

The Human Service Model of Employee Supervision

Unlike the traditional model of employee supervision, which emphasizes monitoring through tight organizational controls, the human service model views the supervision process within the context of both individual employee goals and larger organizational goals. The human service model attempts to integrate employee goals into organizational goals.

   What do employees want? They want a number of things, with surprising consistency—both to accomplish job tasks and to feel fulfilled within their roles.

Human service model of employee supervision: A model that stresses employee ownership, delegation of authority, and the sharing of power within organizations.

    Toch (1978) , as one of the first to comment on the traditional assumptions we hold about rank-and-file criminal justice workers, states the following:

·  A correctional officer assigned to tower duty is a residue of the dark ages. He requires 20/20 vision, the IQ of an imbecile, a high threshold for boredom, and a basement position in Maslow’s hierarchy.

   Similar views have also been offered about police officers (“street cops”) and their vitriolic attitudes toward administrators (“management cops”) ( Reuss-Ianni, 1984 ). The result of such a split is often hostility and a sense of separation between officer and manager. Such a split is directly related to the militarystyle organization found in most police departments ( Fyfe, 2004a : 158).

   Such a view highlights the tension that is created between rank-and-file employees and administrators when assumptions about employees are less than flattering, and there is no appreciation of the diversity of their role and the job performed. The traditional model of police supervision does not recognize either the importance of this diversity or that organizational control—the single most important goal under the traditional model—is only one goal among many. It is this recognition of diversity in both personal and organizational goals that defines the human service model of employee supervision.

   Within the context of a problem-oriented approach to police organization,  Goldstein (1990 :149) argues that the traditional model of supervision must be supplanted with a model of supervision that fosters a “relationship with management built on mutual trust and on agreement that an officer has the freedom to think and act within broad boundaries.” Similarly,  Johnson (2002)  has shown that effective correctional officers are those who stretch the role of custody to include the delivery of goods and services to prisoners, even though there are very few inducements for such behavior. Why do some officers exhibit such behaviors? The answer to this question, offered by  Johnson (2002 :256), serves to define the basic assumption of the human service model of employee supervision:

·  Why, then, do some [correctional] officers persist in activities that take time and effort, are neither recognized nor rewarded by others, and must be hidden or played down for fear of trouble with administrators, peers, treatment staff, or recalcitrant inmates? The reason … is simply this: human service activities make the officer’s job richer, more rewarding, and ultimately less stressful.

   Recognition of the true nature of the employee’s role enables managers and administrators to grasp that supervision must include a rather expansive definition of employee tasks and activities. Less centralization, fewer and more clearly defined rules, and less bureaucracy are central tenets of the human service model of employee supervision. Unlike the traditional model of employee supervision that emphasizes tight controls and limited decision making among employees, this approach stresses the importance of decentralization of authority for greater decision-making capabilities among lower-level members, fewer rules to encumber the enlarged activities of employees, and a breaking down of the traditional hierarchy found in most police and correctional organizations.

   Such views are consistent with popular ideas expressed by contemporary management experts, such as  Peters and Waterman (1982 :150), who stress autonomy and entrepreneurship (less centralization); simultaneous loose–tight properties (less formalization); and simple form, lean staff (less complexity). Such approaches have proven to be invaluable to the corporate world and have equal relevance to criminal justice administration and management. All are consistent with the human service model of employee supervision. Both experts and reformers alike have called for the application of these ideas in transforming the supervision process within criminal justice organizations (see  Christopher Commission Report, 1991 :242–244).

   In addition, the case for humanizing organizational structure has had its strongest support among researchers who investigate the importance of investing in people within organizations and organizational performance.  O’Toole and Meier (2009)  stress that an investment in people in organizations yields much return relative to cost. Their research, based on a review of evidence for hundreds of organizations in the public sector over a four-year period, showed that even controlling for all performance indicators available, it is still a wise choice to invest in employees for maximum organizational performance:

·  The results are convincing; they are found across a wide array of performance measures, and they can even be found for almost all of the measures when controlling for past performance. The evidence provides especially strong support for the proposition that the human side contributes to tangible, measurable results (2009:513).

   According to  Goldstein (1990 :157–172), a new supervision model in police organizations requires a decentralization of authority; a new dimension of supervision that capitalizes on the knowledge of frontline supervisors, such as sergeants and lieutenants; an alteration in the criteria for recognizing and evaluating performance among officers; a change in the recruitment and selection of new officers; a revitalized sense of purpose and direction in training; and the development of new sources of information and new knowledge on how to address crime-related problems within communities.

   Similarly,  Wright (1994)  offers identical prescriptions for correctional administrators and managers. He suggests that correctional institutions can be made more cohesive and can work toward both organizational goals and developing people in the organization. Wright’s ideas center around three fundamental concepts associated with the human service model of employee supervision: employee ownership, delegation, and the sharing of power.

   Employee ownership refers to gaining a greater voice in the creation of institutional policy. According to Wright, correctional employees who are able to express their concerns within the context of decision making are more productive employees and experience less stress. In his words, “People who ‘own’ their job and ‘own’ their organization feel strong, capable, and committed” (1994:48). This ownership is structured within the concept of delegation. Delegation allows employees, within prescribed limits, the opportunities to make decisions that affect their ability to perform tasks. As such, delegation is not without structure or undirected participation by lower-level employees; it is the ability to maximize the knowledge and skills of employees in a directed fashion ( Lambert, Hogan, and Tucker, 2009 ). In short, delegation exploits the experiences of the workers.

   The sharing of power follows nicely from the concept of delegation. Sharing power assumes that power is not a finite entity. Instead, power is viewed as “energy, potential, and competence” ( Wright, 1994 :51). Power is given to employees in such a way that they are able to enhance their performance levels and adjust to contingencies of the institutional environment. Under such a view, the correctional worker is viewed as an active contributor to the organization, not simply a reactive automaton to institutional policies and procedures.

   Taken together, these three ideas generate a work philosophy that seeks to institutionalize greater authority in the hands of employees and respects their intelligence and creativity in a changing correctional environment. Such a philosophy has been the model for the Federal Bureau of Prisons since the mid-1960s and is known as unit management. Unit management is an organizational design as well as an operating philosophy for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  Houston (1999)  defines unit management as having the following components:

· ■ A small number of inmates (50 to 120) who are permanently assigned together

· ■ A multidisciplinary staff (unit manager, case manager[s], correctional counselor [s], full- or part-time psychologist, clerk typist, and correctional officers) whose offices are located within or adjacent to the inmate housing unit and are permanently assigned to work with the inmates of that unit

· ■ A unit manager who has administrative authority and supervisory responsibility for the unit staff

· ■ A unit staff that has administrative authority for all within-unit aspects of inmate living and programming

· ■ Inmates who are assigned to the unit because of age, prior record, specific behavior typologies, a need for a specific type of correctional program, such as drug abuse counseling, or random assignment

· ■ Unit staff who are scheduled by the unit manager to work in the unit evenings and weekends, on a rotating basis, in addition to the unit correctional officer. Within the institution, the guiding principle is to have a flexible set of rules and regulations that allows staff the discretion and direction to complete tasks.

   For advocates of unit management, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.  Houston (1999 :325) suggests the following advantages: a greater sense of cohesion and community between inmates and staff; an increase in the contacts between inmates and staff, which leads to better communication and a positive work environment; a decentralizing of decisions within the correctional units that improves decision making; and greater program flexibility.

   Such advantages must be weighed, however, within the context of competing disadvantages.  Houston (1999 :325–326) offers the following disadvantages to unit management. Unit management is costly and labor intensive, takes much time and resources to implement, and, most telling, threatens the organizational status quo. In particular, it challenges fundamental ways of doing business in the prison. Instead of the traditional hierarchical control found in most prisons, unit management increases the flexibility of subordinates and decentralizes authority at the operational level—in this case, within the housing unit where staff completes the day-to-day functions of the prison.

    Wright (1994 :54) offers the primary reason correctional administrators have been slow to adopt unit management:

·  Some top executives may feel uneasy about giving up control…. They may wonder whether they can depend on line staff to make critical decisions. Yet, most prisons are too large for a few administrators to get to know all the inmates well. Unit management provides for more efficient and informed decision making because the individuals making the decisions spend the most time with inmates.

   In this statement, we see the fundamental difference between the traditional model and the human service model. The primary concern of the traditional model is control of the employee, whereas the human service model stresses the completion of organizational tasks. The often tumultuous and uncertain political environment forces criminal justice administrators to stress accountability and control of employees. Employees’ concerns, meanwhile, center on task completion. Often there is conflict between the organization’s search for control and certainty and the desire to accomplish “soft” organizational objectives and goals.  Wilson (2000 :168–171) has documented how many public service agencies are what he called “coping organizations.” Unlike product-based organizations, these types of organizations cannot observe their own outcomes and outputs. It is often difficult to identify what tasks are actually related to the accomplishment of specific goals in coping organizations.

   Given this situation, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for administrators in coping organizations to give up power, decentralize their organizations, and empower employees. They fall back on what they can do well and that usually means hierarchy and other traditional practices that, on the surface, provide greater control of employees as well as measures of output that have a control focus.

   Such a view questions the applicability of the human service model to criminal justice organizations.  Wright (1994 :43–47) discusses how correctional administrators often stress centralization of authority, clear rules, and uncertainty avoidance in their organizations. This means greater bureaucracy and tighter organizational control. Yet advocates of the human service model seek a loosening of the organizational reins by administrators. Is this really possible?


Commenting on the entire human relations movement in organizations, Charles  Perrow (1986 :94–95) cynically states the fundamental problem in trying to “humanize” organizations:

·  The search for authenticity and spontaneity should be never-ending, and if it must occur in the guise of better productivity in organizations, let it. The trainees will return refreshed to a world of hierarchies, conflict, authority, stupidity, and brilliance, but the hierarchies and the like probably will not fade away. Most organizations remain highly authoritarian systems; some even use T-groups to hide that essential fact.

   For criminal justice administrators, citizens (the consumers of our products), and reformers, such organizational issues as decentralization, employee empowerment, and delegation are significant concerns today and into the future. Yet given the uncertain, conflicting, and multiple goals facing criminal justice organizations, it is not clear how such issues can become relevant to administrators. At the end of the day, criminal justice administrators have to show that adopting more human service principles actually improves their product. It is the product that is important.  Polakowski, Hartley, and Bates (2008)  argue that the number one predictor of success in a juvenile drug court is the quality of participant experiences in the program. In effect, we expect drug courts to assist people with their drug problems. When program participants feel that the experience is positive and assists them in moving away from a life of drugs and crime, they are more likely to succeed in the program. It is interesting that in this example, drug testing, residential treatment, sanction rate, severity of sanctions, and rewards (days off) made up the definition of the drug court program. How these aspects of the program were organized and delivered affected the outcome or product. As an example of an innovation in criminal justice, drug courts provide an opportunity for criminal justice administrators to organize and deliver their services differently and hopefully with a better outcome. This is a serious organizational issue.

   Criminal justice administrators, as we have emphasized in this and other chapters, face many constraints and receive multiple expectations from their constituents, with finite resources. This forces goal ambiguity about their purpose and direction. Because of this, they adopt a structure and system of employee supervision that emphasizes what they can accomplish. More often than not, this means routinization, an overemphasis on employee control, and consistent policies and procedures. Such a structure reduces uncertainty and stabilizes all threats from the environment.

   More important, humanistic attempts to reorganize the ways of doing business in criminal justice organizations require greater clarity of purposes (identifying the product), consensus on the purposes (agreement among competing interests about the product), and a well-defined technology or methodology to produce the product (how to make the product). Public service organizations, such as the criminal justice system, possess no such clarity about these issues.

    Wilson (2000)  argues that issues of accountability, equity, fiscal integrity, and efficiency serve as possible obstacles to innovation in public organizations. Although Wilson applies these concepts to an analysis of public organizations in general, we can apply them to employee supervision as well. Accountability centers on employee performance and issues of supervision and control. Equity focuses on fairness and treating similarly situated employees in the same way. Fiscal integrity means ensuring that public dollars are spent on the personnel and functions mandated to the organization. Finally, efficiency involves employing a sufficient number of employees, not too many nor too few, to accomplish the organization’s tasks within the prescribed level of resources.

   Taken together, these concerns, along with conflicting goals and missions, serve as constraints on how employees are to be supervised. Police organizations, for example, that attempt to reorganize under a community policing philosophy would find enormous difficulties in trying to decentralize their structures while still being sensitive to public accountability, equity among officers, fiscal concerns about the appropriateness of deploying staff in such a way, and efficiency concerns. Would the creation of mini-stations in police organizations be cost effective? Would they allow accountability to be monitored? What about issues of exercising discretion and monitoring of discretionary acts among officers by supervisors?

   Similar questions could be raised about correctional organizations. One state department of corrections lost a major judgment in court on the payment of overtime to probation and parole officers. The department responded bureaucratically and tightened procedures so that overtime was no longer possible for agents, even though it knew that officers required greater time and flexibility to complete tasks, such as home visits of offenders. While attempting to decentralize their decision making for agents, correctional officers were more concerned about the public impression that the department was not being efficient and lacked fiscal integrity in their operations.

   These concerns overshadowed treatment and offender supervision issues. The net result was that services were cut back and the department became even more rigid. In addition, the department created mechanisms to control the time and workings of agents to the point where many agents complained that there was no professionalism in the job. Proponents of the humanistic model of employee supervision, consequently, need to address how concerns over accountability, equity, fiscal integrity, and efficiency would be handled outside the traditional structure of criminal justice organizations.

   To date, many supporters of the humanistic approach have not moved beyond an abstract discussion of how criminal justice organizations will presumably benefit from the adoption of their principles. What still has to be examined is how these ideals can become real within the context of multiple goals, interests, and constraints. This is a formidable challenge for those who administer criminal justice organizations, yet not an impossible one. Responding to this challenge will be a primary initiative for criminal justice administrators in the new century. In fact, it might be said that the push for increased privatization of criminal justice functions and agencies is rooted in a belief that private organizations can respond more efficiently and effectively to the changing and turbulent environments of criminal justice organizations ( Shefer and Liebling, 2008 ).


All guidelines for supervision and evaluation of employees require a road map on how to proceed. The supervision and evaluation of employees is no easy task, nor is there any single approach that can be given to criminal justice supervisors to follow. Instead, there are key issues and concepts that can assist and guide criminal justice administrators (see  Bennett and Hess, 2007 , for a thorough discussion of supervision techniques).  Yukl (1981)  provides a list of guidelines to aid supervisors in the performance of their jobs. They include the following: defining job responsibilities, assigning work, and setting performance goals. Each of these areas has a number of subareas that define the supervision process.

   Within the realm of defining job responsibilities, explaining the important job responsibilities, clarifying the person’s scope of authority, explaining how the job relates to the mission of the unit, and, most important, explaining important and relevant policies, rules, and requirements are essential. When assigning work, the supervisor must clearly explain the assignment, explain the reasons for the assignment, clarify priorities and deadlines, and check for comprehension among employees. Similarly, setting performance goals means setting goals for relevant aspects of performance, setting goals that are clear and specific, setting goals that are challenging but realistic, and setting a target date for the attainment of each goal ( Yukl, 1981 :68).

    Oettmeier and Wycoff (1998)  offer a model for evaluating and supervising police officers within the context of community policing efforts. This model offers three levels at which evaluation and supervision can be examined. At the first level, the evaluation and supervision efforts focus on individual performance and can include the following elements: traffic stops, arrests, and directed patrols toward specific crimes, to mention a few. At the second level, the evaluation and supervision parameters are focused at the team level within the organization.

   The efforts of the team are evaluated on how well specific aims are met and incidents addressed. For example, officers may be evaluated on how well they implement a drunk driving apprehension unit and how many arrests are made. The focus of the evaluation is on team performance, not individual performance. The third level of evaluation examines the organization’s internal activities or procedures to address certain problems. At this level of evaluation, the administration is introspectively examining the operations of the organization with a focus on improving a process or procedure. An example is the procedures employed in the disciplinary process. The focus of the evaluation is to move beyond the individual or a team of officers; instead, the purpose is to evaluate the processes and procedures used to realize organizational goals.

   This model has been applied to both small and large cities, and research has documented the trials and tribulations associated with this new way of evaluating police performance. In Houston, Texas, for example, application of the model has proven to be challenging and rewarding.  Oettmeier and Wycoff (1998 :377–391) report that Houston police officials learned new ways to improve their performance evaluation systems and supervision approaches. These researchers offer the following changes in police performance evaluation to assist police administrators: adopt new assumptions concerning performance evaluation, specifically how and when performance evaluations are conducted; define the purposes of evaluation; identify new performance criteria; measure the effects of officer performance; strengthen the verification of performance among officers; develop new instrumentation to evaluate officer performance; solicit officer feedback about the performance of frontline supervisors, such as sergeants; and, finally, revise rating scales.

   The evaluation and supervision of employees will always be problematic. Developing guidelines and specific approaches to evaluation and supervision will always be questioned. Nevertheless, personnel supervision and evaluation are a major task for criminal justice administrators. How this is accomplished is, in part, the test of an administrator’s skill level. The twenty-first-century criminal justice administrator will be pressed to provide more credible information and ways to assess employee performance. It will be one of the continuing challenges facing criminal justice administrators.

   To meet this challenge, a number of writers have suggested that a 360-degree model of employee supervision be employed. This model of supervision recognizes the importance of multiple views on employee performance. It is a rather expansive model of supervision that envisions greater input from all those who are affected by an employee’s actions. The dominant stakeholders in this approach are both internal and external to the department. The Sacramento Police Department, for example, uses four sources of information for police officer performance appraisals: input from departmental personnel, such as peers who know the officer, personnel files, which may include commendations and complaints, officer performance within the unit as assessed by a supervisor, and an officer’s self-appraisal. Taken together, these sources of information provide a comprehensive review of an officer’s performance ( Scrivner, 2001 :115).

   In addition, it is highly recommended that criminal justice organizations conduct performance appraisals on various dimensions that gauge employees’ success on the job. This means there are operationally defined performance appraisal dimensions.  Scrivner (2001 :111–114) identifies nine specific dimensions to police officer performance appraisal: communication skills, interpersonal skills, integrity, commitment to service, work ethic, problem solving, safety, demeanor, and operation of a motor vehicle. By taking a comprehensive look at an officer’s performance, it is possible to conclude how successful the officer is in achieving the stated objectives and goals of a specific unit within the organization.

   What about employee supervision? Are there prescriptions that can be offered to criminal justice supervisors to be more successful? The answer to this question is not simple because it is difficult to delineate supervision from management and what benchmarks are used to gauge success. Research suggests that for most managers, work can be divided into four basic functions: traditional management, including decision making, planning, and controlling; communication, exchanging information and completing paperwork; human resource management, motivating, disciplining, managing conflict, staffing, and training; and networking, socializing and politicking with outsiders.

   Criminal justice supervisors have to perform all these functions to be successful in the supervisor role, yet the research also suggests that there is a difference between being an effective manager (performs well and gets things done) and a successful manager (speed of promotion within an organization). (See  Robbins and Judge, 2007 :8–9, for a more thorough discussion of this topic.) Moreover, the research on effective models of supervision within criminal justice organizations suffers from a dearth of empirically based findings. More often than not, we perform as supervisors within criminal justice organizations based on tradition and informed intuition rather than sound prescriptions from research, even though this is changing in many criminal justice organizations (see the case study in  Chapter 15 ).

   Nevertheless, there is some research to guide our thinking. traditional supervisor is the person who expects measurable outcomes from subordinates and aggressive law enforcement activities. This type of police supervisor expects officers to produce many arrests and written citations. There is a particular emphasis on rule enforcement and expecting officers to comply with orders and commands.

   A second type of supervisor is the innovative supervisor. This person encourages officers to be less concerned about measurable outcomes and more concerned about solving problems within their assignments.  Engel (2004 :209) argues that this type of supervisor holds values more consistent with a community policing approach to police work. The role of the supervisor is to provide support to officers so they can perform their jobs well.

   The supportive supervisor is a person who seeks to support officers in the performance of their jobs and to serve as a potential buffer between officers and management. The supportive supervisor provides praise and rewards to officers and seeks to inspire them to perform their jobs. In addition, the supportive officer, according to  Engel (2004 :211), may be open to criticism when support serves as a shield against inappropriate behavior among officers and diminishes accountability.

    Active supervisors  exhibit behaviors that are consistent with positive views of subordinates and high activity for themselves. Active supervisors work with officers in the field. They spend much of their time working with officers and less time in the district or precinct. They are not overly concerned with global issues of crime and disorder. They are more concerned with doing, not talking or being inspirational. Officers view such supervisors as getting involved in their work and supporting them in their assignments when possible.

Traditional supervisor: A supervisor who expects measurable outcomes and aggressive activities.

Innovative supervisor: A supervisor who encourages problem solving over measurable outcomes.

Supportive supervisor: A supervisor who supports employees and serves as a potential buffer between employees and management.

Active supervisors: A supervisor whose behaviors are consistent and predictable with positive views of employees and high activity for himself or herself.

   Which style is most common and most preferred?  Engel (2004 :13) found that the styles are equally distributed across the departments she surveyed, but when separating the departments, she found differences in the types of supervision styles found among police sergeants. No one style, according to  Engel (2004 :216) is preferred because we do not know which style leads to what outcomes. This research highlights what we have said before in this chapter:

You cannot think about supervision styles among criminal justice supervisors without thinking about what organizational goals you are trying to achieve.  Engel (2004 :216) states the following:

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