The Corrections Way

The Missouri Department of Corrections partnered with the Jefferson City-based consulting firm The Carden Group (TCG) to create a better working environment at all levels of the department. This initiative, known as the Corrections Way (TCW), prepares and equips staff to identify, teach, model and reinforce critical leadership skills.

In evaluating our culture, practices and behaviors, multiple staff focus groups were held across the state to gather insights and establish a common language within the department. Based on those findings, we created a curriculum to develop a culture of excellence, to improve communication, and to build stronger relationships based on mutual trust and respect for one another.

Coworkers having discussions.

TCW is taught during basic training to new employees and it is taught to supervisors as part of their professional development requirements. Worksites have Ambassadors that help promote TCW at the local level and can help staff with practicing and understanding the various tools and/or concepts. The following tools/concepts taught in TCW are the building blocks in developing our foundation for developing our leadership skills:   

  • Communication Styles
  • Value Premise
  • Effective Feedback
  • Quality Conversations/De-escalation
  • Growth Model

Communication Styles

Understanding communication styles helps team members understand their own individual communication style strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the people they encounter day to day.  Team members are then taught how to flex, adapt, and become versatile to other communication styles.  This approach provides a solid foundation to develop effective, efficient, and productive communication within the organization.

Value Premise

Bringing awareness to individual value and how each team member affects the culture as a whole creates clarity and aligns individual actions to MODOC’s mission and purpose.  The team members then identify what they are willing to commit to and contribute individually to make a strong team.  These commitments become the team’s "rules of engagement”.

Effective Feedback

Learning how to give and receive feedback in all situations opens dialog, builds trust, and fosters respect throughout the organization. By giving effective feedback, supervisors encourage staff development and personal growth, resulting in higher employee engagement and satisfaction while reducing employee turnover. In addition, by providing effective upward feedback, team members encourage supervisors’ development and professional growth that results in higher employee engagement and satisfaction.

Quality Conversation/De-escalation

Using a process to clarify, listen, and restate your understanding and check in to gain agreement helps create positive, open dialog in all situations. This approach also builds trust and fosters respect.  Team members learn how to avoid, shift, contain and redirect negativity, supporting a more efficient and productive workplace.

Growth Model

The Growth Model is a tool that should be used during Engage 2.0 meetings on a quarterly basis.  The Growth Model is used by individuals and supervisors to discuss development goals and next steps in four categories:

  • Know your Role
  • Learn and Grow
  • Commit to the Team
  • Live the Mission

The levels in the Growth Model are not tied to specific roles, but are instead meant to be useful across roles and levels.  The Growth Model reflects research indicating there are three key transitions people go through in their professional development

The Missouri Department of Corrections has partnered with the Jefferson City-based consulting firm The Carden Group (TCG) to create a better working environment at all levels of the department. This initiative, known as the Corrections Way, prepares and equips staff to identify, teach, model and reinforce critical leadership skills.

TCG facilitated multiple staff focus groups across the state to gather insights and establish a common language within the DOC. Based on those findings, TCG has been working with the DOC to instill a culture of excellence, to improve communication, and to build stronger relationships based on the foundation of four key behaviors and skills:

  • Communication Styles
  • Value Premise
  • Effective Feedback
  • De-escalation

More than 2,000 employees holding supervisor positions throughout the state complete a training program designed to help them master these core skills and cultivate a positive, productive, safe work environment.