The Seven Commandments of Community Corrections 

Commandment 5: Culture matters!  Fight for it

"Culture drives great results." –Jack Welch

Culture is a collection of behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular group.   It determines expectations, roles and boundaries.  Your family has a culture (ever have Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house…weird, eh?) Your neighborhood as a culture (it determines whether you grill out together or even wave at each other.)  There is an offender culture (if you never admit guilt, there will always be doubt.)    Environment is part of culture.  Customs and rituals are too.  Your community corrections program has a culture.  It is dynamic.  Positive leaders make your goal much easier because they create positive peer pressure to adhere to the group norms per the culture. 

“One bad apple can destroy the whole bunch” (client or staff).  Are staff burned out?  Going through the motions?  Passionate?  Harsh?  Pushovers?  Do staff like each other?  Do they like the clients?  Is there a belief that people can change?  Do staff admit mistakes?  Does cleanliness matter?  Do emotions run high?  Do staff believe they are lucky or better than clients?  It is difficult sometimes to identify your own culture.  Invite someone to spend the day observing your operations.  They will notice things you do not and you will have a heightened sense of awareness (and pride and embarrassment). 

Culture is a key ingredient to enabling transformative change in an organization, its missions and goals.  A culture of embracing and enabling change comes and goes.  Believe that it matters.  Fight for it. It leads to better results and makes your life easier.


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