Measuring a Supervisor

The promotion freeze at the court is about to be lifted–our impending take over of the JTDC means we need more staff. The notoriety of the place means we need clever managers to deal with kids and staff who reside there. Given the graft and patronage that Cook County is famous for, the County has attempted to set up objective measures to address the promotion from Field PO (I, IIa or IIb) to Supervisor. This sounds like a good idea…

…but I think the only people who really know how to create objective test measures are teachers and researchers. I agree that a good supervisor is the one that can quote policy and answer questions about services off the top of their head–but I do not think that this alone makes a good supervisor. An understanding of policy and programs comes from working and referring individuals to these programs, management meetings and working with line staff. It is not something that needs to be memorized. When I hear deputies say, with no small measure of contempt, “this should be on your test because you get it wrong all the time,” I have to wonder why “we” get “it” wrong. It is possible that getting a stack of memo’s every month, with a change in policy every other month, and a new program every two months, that we, as line staff, are swamped with confusing data. It is also possible that the policy measures, directions and directives are less than clear, yet clearly made and implemented by people who haven’t worked with a child in over a decade.

Knowing policy and procedure is the easiest way to objectively measure part of what makes a good supervisor. That needs to be said. As an adult, I’ve had a total of 5 supervisors. Three at my first job, two as a PO. Of my first three, only one is worth remembering–because he was a great man. I mean in that in the classic sense of, “This was a man everyone should meet.” In probation, I’ve been lucky to have two of the best supervisors in the court. My first (and one of my mentor’s) understood the nature of the job and supported us as best he could.

Doing what I do, you need support from your supervisors. When you have a bad day in the JSO unit, you have a really bad day. Having a supervisor telling you to suck it up and deal is grounds, in my opinion, for filing a grievance against that supervisor.

My “new” supervisor is just as supportive, but more challenging. She is pushing us to be more clinical, understand the policies, to take on more leadership roles AND to sharpen our skills. While my old supervisor attempted to do the same thing, she is more successful at it.

The ability to work with, and guide, your employees is not an easy-to-measure skill, but it is worth evaluating. I wonder how much of it is skill and how much of it is talent. I’m sure a brilliant I/O Psychologist can either 1) answer the question or 2) link me to a website where I can find said information, but I digress. This is more important that memorizing acronyms, memorizing policy or knowing how Title IV-E licensing works. The former is talent and skill, the latter can be looked up in a goddamn book.

Addendum (ie more rants) after the Jump

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12:11 CST
The more I study, the more I think we need to change things. This is not helping me study. Saul Alinsky wrote something like, “In order to affect change , one must recognize the reality of situation they are in.” I can’t affect change in probation until I know more about each and every program, policy and directive. I believe that the system is broken–but I can’t tell you know I why it is broken or what it is most broken–yet that is not good enough. There is a huge difference between believing and knowing–just ask any devout christian. I’m sure they’ll relate the difference for you.

12:24 CST
Gene Able , MD said today, “You can change, it isn’t that difficult.” He was talking about expanding to include families into the typical SO Treatment Programs. He was not talking about personal change. I just like pulling his comment out of context.

So when I read, “Change is difficult for most people–most of the time” in my study packet, I wanted to introduce Prochaska and DiClemente to Dr. Able. In my head, they debate wizened old men. With beards. And Robes….

…and I realize I really, really just want to go read A Feast for Crows.

12:42 CST
As cynical and bitter as I can get (just ask me about the hippies when I get back) I can hear a train in the distance. It makes me think of Blue Island and where I would rather be.

I am thinking about this screening tool we use now (MAYSI 2). It’s computerized, fancy and it seems valid. There’s one problem: what if the kid can’t read? What reading level is this tool designed for?

There is a spanish version, but, has this been normed on spanish speaking youth?

That’s it. I’ve been doing this for 3 hours now. I plan on waking up early and studying at breakfast.

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