CJCC Management and Development
There are many ways to develop and encourage growth within a CJCC. Ensuring that council members have the opportunity to learn and collaborate with each other will create a path for continued success and engagement. Focusing on the growth and development of a CJCC is equally as important as focusing on the goals the CJCC's sets forth in their planning processes.
For teams to be effective, people on the team must be able to work together to contribute collectively to team outcomes. This does not happen automatically, it takes time and develops as the team works together.
Research has shown that teams go through definitive stages during development. The first four stages of team growth were first developed by Bruce Wayne Tuckman and published in 1965. His theory, called “Tuckman’s Stages” listed here are based on research he conducted on team dynamics.
Stage 1: Forming: The forming stage involves a period to allow members to getting acquainted with each other. During this stage, the team first meets each other, discusses the project’s goals, and begins to think about their role in the project. It is important at this stage to establish group norms and rely on the leader/CJCC Chairperson(s) for guidance.
Stage 2: Storming: At the storming stage, team members openly share their ideas and look for acceptance of their ideas. They may have different opinions on what should be done and how to do it which may cause conflict within the team. During this process, with guidance from the Chairperson, they will learn how to solve problems together, function both independently and together as a team. Leadership helps teams manage the competition and help members settle into their roles and responsibilities.
Stage 3: Norming: At this stage teams have figured out how to work with each other, no longer focused on their individual goals and working together gaining a sense of cohesion. Team members begin to trust each other and actively seek each other out for assistance and input. The team has greater self-direction, working more efficiently, sharing ideas and providing feedback. The CJCC Chairperson should always ensure that the team members are working collaboratively and also function as a coach to the members of the team.
Stage 4: Performing: In the performing stage, consensus and cooperation have been well-established and the team is mature, organized, and well-functioning. There is a clear and stable structure, and members are committed to the team’s mission and highly motivated to get the job done. During this stage, the CJCC Chairperson will continue to monitor the progress of the team and celebrate milestone achievements with the team to continue to build camaraderie.
Stage 5: Adjourning: The fifth stage was added in 1977. The adjourning stage is primarily focused on team members completing the current project, perhaps joining other teams, and moving on to other work in the near future. This stage also recognizes standing committees. (Tuckman, 1965)
CJCCs are encouraged to recognize all five stages to work toward the sustainability of the CJCC over time. During the adjourning stage, a CJCC may experience membership and leadership changes as a result of elections, retirements or a desire to add a membership category. When this occurs, it is important to recognize the successes achieved by the previous membership and recognize that the CJCC will likely revert back to a forming or storming stage and recycle through the development process.
Helpful Resource: Getting it right: Collaborative Problem Solving for Criminal Justice
CJCC Self-Evaluation Assessments
When developing a CJCC, it can be helpful to complete readiness assessments to get an idea of how much work will be required in the early stages of planning. Below are several different assessment options depending on the level of collaboration and functionality.
Collaboration: How ready is the council to collaborate with one another?
The EBDM Starter kit includes a collaboration survey: Working Together: A Profile of Collaboration that measures collaboration effectiveness. In four areas having to do with the context, structure, membership and the collaboration process. Click here for NIC's Starter Kit
Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory, 3rd edition of Collaboration: What Makes it Work: identifies 22 factors that influence the success of a collaboration. They are grouped into six categories including:
- Environment – history of collaboration in the community, CJCC seen as a leader, favorable political and social climate
- Membership characteristics – mutual respect, understanding and trust. Trust is derived from experience and finding common ground. Communication that is open and frank lays the groundwork for both. At the very beginning of an effort, group members should devote energy to get to know one another and see collaboration as in their own self-interest (advantages of participation will offset cost)
- Process and structure – members feel “ownership” of both the way the group works and the results or products of its work. Multiple layers of participation (every level: management, middle management and operations) has at least some representation and ongoing involvement in the collaborative initiative.
- Communication – refers to the channels used by collaborative partners to keep, send and receive information, keep each other informed, and convey opinions.
- Purpose – goals and objectives are clear to all parties and can be realistically attained, must experience a progression of successes. NOTE: a shared commitment to realize specified goals and outcomes forms the basis for collaboration.
- Resources – money, time and staff – the collaborative group has adequate consistent financial base, staff and sufficient time to achieve its goals and nurture the collaboration.
Here is a link to the free Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory.
Helpful Resource: Wilder Research: Talking through the Numbers Podcast: Collaboration across difference: is a resource that can help CJCC members understand how to successfully engage people with diverse views in the collaboration. https://soundcloud.com/user-wilderresearch
Peer-to-Peer Learning Benefits
One benefit of a convening a CJCC is that it creates a forum for leaders in the criminal justice system to regularly interact and develop relationships. Many CJCC members find the peer-to-peer learning and connections are one of the greatest benefits to participating in a council. A simple issue that might otherwise take months to fix can often be handled in a 10-minute conversation before or after a council meeting. Engaged CJCCs members often find solutions to non-CJCC specific work problems while having coffee with colleagues as they wait for the meeting to begin. One key factor to this success, is maintaining peer level stakeholders. Who is at the table is equally as important as any other aspect for a successful CJCC.
Ongoing Training for CJCC Members
There are ways to include team building exercises into CJCC meetings, this is a great method to ease tensions and build trust among the council.
Outside of team building exercises, CJCC members should be encouraged to develop in other ways found below:
- Share stakeholder agency training opportunities with other members
- Consider doing a “day in the life” training every so often for members to learn about the work of the agencies that CJCC members represent
- Share or recap what they may have learned from a training they have attended that may be of interest to other members
Helpful Resources: The National Criminal Justice Association also provides virtual and in-person training specific to SAAs and local CJCCs on the topics of strategic planning, grant writing and administration. NCJA also hosts an annual national conference that is typically attended by the SAAs and their staff, CJCC team members and criminal justice practitioners.
There are numerous training materials, sites and assistance that are available to help advance the work of CJCCs. CJCC members should commit to learning about implementing evidence-based principles, policies and practices and fostering the teamwork environment that will ensure the success of the CJCC.
Facilitating Difficult Conversations and Reducing Membership Tension
Given the nature of the work and the makeup of council stakeholders, there may be times during council meetings where difficult conversations give rise to member tensions. This can occur in many ways, for example, there may be pressure by county administration to discuss the budget reductions that impact the police department immediately following a briefing from the police chief on the rise of homicides. There can also be tension between members specifically, for example if the district attorney, judge, and public defender are all represented in the same death penalty trial over the course of time. Or the Sheriff is under orders by the federal government to reduce the jail population which impacts other justice stakeholders. These examples show the importance of having a shared vision and solid foundation of partnership, collaboration, and trust. Even under the best of circumstances, tension and conflict can still arise.
Tips to attempt to avoid this tension or quickly mitigate any conflict.
- Establish ground rules for council meetings
- Bring in an outside facilitator/neutral broker if you anticipate that a situation may arise ahead of time
- Create a set of discussion questions to keep the conversation on task
- Use data and facts to drive conversation
- Use team building exercises ahead of difficult conversations
Managing Transition and Onboarding
Much like most operational functions, one of the most common reasons that a CJCC becomes derailed is the result of a change in members, leaders and/or staff. If not properly managed and planned for, change in members or personnel can be extremely disruptive to a CJCC. There are several ways to anticipate a transition in leadership, especially when it involves a leader who is elected to their position. If it involves an election it is important to be aware of when the election is held and when this potential change could occur. It is good practice to begin planning for transitional leaders to step in should the change take place.
For example, if the Sheriff is currently the chair of the CJCC and there is an election for Sheriff in November, there should be a contingency plan in place for transition of power should the incumbent Sheriff lose the election. The CJCC bylaws should explicitly outline how the interim Chair position will operate; however, it is also helpful to begin thinking about who could be prepared to take over the position permanently. Additionally, with a new Sheriff joining the council, the staff and other members will want to incorporate time for onboarding.
Onboarding new members is very important. Not only does this inform new members of the importance and work that is happening with the council, but it allows for a new member to feel comfortable participating and contributing in meetings. Balancing the busy schedule of a new member with the need to engage them early will be a difficult task. Having materials for the new member to take with them after the onboarding meeting is helpful as they may be at a point in their career where it feels like they are “drinking from a firehose” of information. An onboarding packet that includes information about the organizational structure, membership roster, the bylaws and other important information that will be a useful level-setting tool for new members. It might also be helpful to plan a follow-up one-on-one with a new member 3-6 months after joining the CJCC to check in and answer any questions. Here is an example of an onboarding packet.
For larger councils, informal mentoring programs can often be helpful as well. Pairing a new member, (particularly if they are new to the jurisdiction) with a more seasoned council member can be a great resource to make the new member feel a level of comfort and ease.
Consideration should also be given to level-setting and orientation for the new leader/chair of the CJCC. It is likely the new chairperson has been an active member prior to being named to the position, however, it is important for the chair to receive guidance and understand expectations related to their new role. Oftentimes, the former chair, along with the CJCC staff/coordinator can help by sharing what has worked in the past. Additionally, the new chair may have ideas or new approaches they would like to take in their new role. It is important to be open to new approaches and adapt accordingly.
Staffing changes can also have a positive or negative impact on the functioning of the CJCC. If possible, it is important for new staff to have an opportunity to work with the existing staff prior to their departure. If that is not possible, it may be helpful to set up a personnel committee of CJCC members to work with and orient the new staff to the expectations associated with their position. For more information, please see Staffing a CJCC, located in Chapter One.