The 2008 Corrections Today article, "Leading into Tomorrow: Developing Leaders for the Challenges Ahead," discussed how the Minnesota Department of Corrections' (DOC) top professionals worked to create a preparation program for future leaders. Suddenly, "tomorrow" is here, and now is a good time to look at how well we did.
Why It Began
The Advanced Leadership Development Program (ALDP) was created for a number of reasons; largely, it was developed to prepare future leaders for the challenges they would face in the coming five to 10 years. Along with this, its purpose was to help develop or enhance skills that would improve productivity, satisfaction, retention and, mainly, advancement potential. Most top-level positions at the DOC are gained through promotion, so investing heavily in internal resources would pay dividends along the way and ultimately augment the succession plan. Finally, the standing method of training future leaders was not efficient. The strategy was a patchwork approach that utilized a mixture of activities, such as American Correctional Association conferences, National Institute of Corrections (NIC) conferences, various workshops, college classes, seminars and internal department training. While the programs were good, the method was costly and did not guarantee con sistent substance within disciplines deemed essential by senior leaders. From observations and interviews, it was apparent that participants and top-level leaders were frustrated with the patchwork approach. Moreover, to effect change within this organization, a critical mass of 20 to 60 employees were needed to support and implement any new mindset or practice. Simultaneous leadership training for this number of people was not realistic and rarely occurred.
How It Began
In 2008, Warden John King, from the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater conducted a nationwide survey of correctional institutions to learn which leadership development strategies and techniques were working. Now, more than seven years later, and with many new senior managers in place, the DOC continues to value and benefit from this survey and the subsequent information-sharing efforts.
Under the direction and vision of Lisa Wojcik, assistant commissioner of operations support at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the ALDP concept unfolded. Wojcik's vision formed the charter for the ALDP planning committee. To assure a cross-section membership, leaders were appointed from field services, facilities, education, employee development and information technology departments. The planning committee crafted goals and objectives, and vetted instructors; from there, committee work transitioned to the particular process of writing curriculum.
With curriculum development underway, a decision was made to create a second committee that would design and implement a selection process for program participants. As part of this charge, the selection committee would share the increasing workload and assist in promoting the program. In order to make the selection process transparent, candidates were given detailed information about the application categories and scoring. The categories included years of employment, experience in multiple positions, current and prior supervisory assignments, education, performance appraisal history, discipline record, self-assessment, supervisory assessment and a personal essay. Confirmation of eligibility and initial scoring was conducted by human resources and employee development staff at the central office. In the next phase, selection committee members independently scored each application and then reconvened to discuss results and prepare...