“Creating a better world requires teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration…”
We’ve been taught about the importance of teamwork since we were children, yet as adults, it can still be a difficult concept to master. Working together is vital in so many aspects of life, as well as in most lines of work.
This is particularly true when it comes to community corrections. Community supervision professionals must rely on each other, as well as other agencies, in order to accomplish the dual goals of keeping the community safe and ensuring individuals under supervision follow the terms of their release.
Unfortunately, partnerships may be lacking between community corrections agencies and other law enforcement and public safety agencies. This unfortunate reality can make it more difficult for all related agencies to do their job efficiently. It’s important to understand how to create partnerships that are productive towards reaching goals shared by all related agencies.
5 Tips to Cultivate Community Corrections Partnerships that Actually Work
1. Recognize and communicate the need. If you’re interested in creating a partnership, you should know why one is required. You should also be able to communicate this need in order to convince desired parties to take part in your partnership. Some questions to answer could include how this group of agencies can achieve better results over each agency individually; what can be accomplished collectively that could not be accomplished individually; and, what benefits is this partnership going to offer each agency involved? This is a crucial aspect of motivating others to participate in your partnership and to view it as a priority.
2. Decide on a partnership structure. In order words, what type of partnership do you want to create? What will it look like? Will it be a formal or informal partnership? What will the structure be like? Will there be governing members or will everyone have the same designation? Determining how the partnership will function can help to ensure order and increase the likelihood that goals will be met through the partnership.
3. Develop a plan of action and methods to measure progress/success. Effective partnerships involve a plan about what you want to achieve, how you will get there, and markers of success to confirm that progress is occurring. Some items that should be included in this plan are specific tasks and responsibilities and assignments of who is responsible for them; deadlines for task completion; and metrics to ascertain progress and success achieved. This plan should be available to and understood by all participants.
4. Keep the lines of communication open. One critical element of every effective partnership is communication. Communication should not only occur during scheduled meetings; rather, it should occur on an ongoing basis. The potential methods for communication can vary: phone calls; voice and/or video conference calls; emails; Google hangouts; memos; forums; newsletters and publications; document sharing; chats; and any other method you can think of that allows for productive communication and interaction. The key objectives of this communication are that trust is established and all partners feel free to express opinions, concerns, and suggestions.
5. Assess your partnership over time and be open to evolution. When we started this list of tips, we suggested that you determine the need for your partnership. But it’s important to remember that a partnership is only effective if it continues to meet a need, something that may change over time. Periodically, the partnership goals should be reviewed to determine if they are still applicable. All partners should maintain flexibility and openness towards allowing the partnership to grow and evolve, which may involve a departure from the original goals, plans of action, established metrics to determine progress, and even agencies taking part in the partnership. If your partnership is to remain effective over time, it must be allowed the freedom to evolve within an allowable arc that stays true to the larger overall purpose and goals of each participating agency.
Become a Partner in Change
If you’ve found that your agency is lacking the resources or results you desire, it may be time to look at creating and cultivating a partnership with other agencies who share a similar vision and objective.
If you’re interested in learning more about the purpose of such partnerships, what can be achieved, and how to establish a partnership that will produce a positive outcome, check out our FREE APPA online courses on the subject, including the BRAND NEW Creative Productive Partnerships.
Have you ever been part of a productive partnership? What made it work?
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