Helping sergeants transition through mentorship
To help new sergeants adjust, CDCR is using mentorship as a tool for success.
CDCR implemented the Correctional Sergeant Mentorship Program (CSMP) in January 2021. This program assists new sergeants with transitioning into supervisory roles through guidance and resources consistent with CDCR’s mission and vision.
CSMP partners newly promoted sergeants, who are assigned to an institution, with an experienced Lieutenant or peer for valuable mentorship opportunities. Critical knowledge and experience are shared in order to cultivate teamwork oriented philosophies and develop future leaders.
San Quentin State Prison (SQ) has recently hired, trained, and enrolled their new sergeants in the mentorship program. Five newly promoted sergeants completed three weeks of consecutive training and have been partnered with seasoned staff to begin the year-long program.
“The mentorship program gives new sergeants the much-needed opportunity to orient themselves to their new responsibilities as a supervisor. The mentor relationship affords them the opportunity to learn best practices and to avoid pitfalls associated with our previous, ‘learn as you go’ approach. It also formally marks their transition from line staff to supervisor and future leader,” said Warden Ron Broomfield.
Training future leaders
“Newly promoted Sergeants will be much better prepared to assume the role of supervisor and leader. I believe the benefits of the program will be quickly realized. New sergeants will assume their post with full knowledge of their job duties and expectations, helping avoid costly mistakes. They will be able to assume their new role with confidence, further strengthening their role as supervisor and leader. It will be much easier for them to transition from a peer to peer relationship with officers to a supervisory relationship. This will ultimately strengthen the entire sergeant classification.”
Sgt. Sara Singh, a hire from Deuel Vocational Institution, said she is in a much better position to understand SQ’s layout and operations. This also allowed her to network with colleagues she may not have otherwise met so soon.
“The training for Mentors re-invigorated our passion for teaching and encouraging growth in the next generation of leaders. The Sergeants were grateful for the opportunity to become well-rounded and get to know more areas. They developed into a network of colleagues so they could turn to each other for support. The third week of the training program also allowed them to network with the institutional SMEs and leaders, again building relationships with staff. When the Warden gave them their chevrons, it also gave the management team the ability to celebrate their promotion. The program itself also inspired the Warden and his management team to share their own personal stories and words of wisdom to the mentees,” said Rosalinda Rosalez, Associate Warden.
Long term goals
The long term goal of the CSMP is to prepare newly promoted sergeants to assume their role in an independent manner. The CSMP is a fundamental shift which is enforcing cultural change and providing staff with beneficial resources to aid in future success.
“This program is what the department needed. Instead of being thrown keys and being told ‘you’ll figure it out,’ you actually gain confidence. In positions that use certain systems specialized only to those positions, this is very helpful. Not only that, but it also allows you to network a little bit with peers you may not have worked with much in the past. CSMP has given me a chance to pick the brains on those Sergeants who have been working the line for a while now. It also allows you to hear some of the struggles that the other supervisors faced when they first promoted. I really feel like the CSMP program gives you a leg up in the transition process from Officer to Sergeant. This is great for us all, and it also allows you to have a mentor that makes themselves available,” said Sgt. Joseph Staedler.
In July, CDCR also began a Job Shadowing Program for new correctional officers. The goal is to aid them with transitioning from the Basic Correctional Officer Academy. This three-week program allows new correctional officers to observe experienced custody staff. The new officers are exposed to posts across all shifts, familiarizing them with local policies, procedures and institutional layout. This allows the new officer to experience interactions between incarcerated individuals and seasoned staff.
By Arlene Singh, Peace Officer Selection and Employee Development
Advanced Learning Institute
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