Gaps between management and team members can occur within all businesses and services. The way to narrow the gap is for managers to adopt more effective leadership styles. When managers close the gap between management and team members, managers drive what is called the Service-Profit chain, which is defined as a relationship between management, "employee engagement," "customer engagement/satisfaction," and profit or growth (Lazenby, A., "Managers: Your Key to Bridging the Gap"). While prisons are not typical for-profit businesses, studies show that leadership techniques are key to developing quality prison life, which is the service provided by prisons. Such leadership techniques have a positive impact on employees as well as on inmates, leading to the provision of quality correctional service.
One reason why gaps between management and team members occur is because managers are "often promoted because they are outstanding individual contributors" (Lazenby). Since those who are promoted to management level are used to working independently, they must make major transitions to be able to start focusing on developing the skills of their team members rather than on just the development of their own skills. If the prison team members see the prison warden, John Trever, as "cold, uninvolved, and apathetic" when he is actually a very "pleasant, unassuming gentleman," it is most likely because Mr. Trevor has been unable to successfully transition from working independently to developing the skill set of his team members, which is required of him if he is to demonstrate strong leadership skills. To bridge the gap, managers must help team members see their places as contributing members, engage and inspire team members by helping them see the larger goals of the organization, open doors of communication, and build trust (Lazenby).
Studies show that when management fails to bridge the gap between the highest level of management, such as the prison warden, and team members, such as the prison managers, in a correctional facility, consequences include low morale, increased burnout rates, increased turnover rates, and even increased suicide rates (Pittaro, M., "Improve Your Facility by Changing Your Leadership Style"). In addition, studies also show that when correctional staff suffers from high levels of stress, they tend to take more "punitive attitudes toward inmates," leading to higher "inmate-upon-officer assaults and inmate-upon-inmate assaults" (Pittaro). Naturally, injuries from such assaults increase medical expenses for prisons and increase safety threats. In addition, states like New York report that correctional officer brutality law suits, for even just one officer, can cost the state as much as $673,000 in settlements ("The State That is Taking on the Prison Guards Union"). The way to overcome such problems is by developing strong "transformational leadership practices" to be exhibited by the highest level of management, such as the prison warden, towards the staff, such as managers and all other staff members, and by the staff towards the inmates (Pittaro). Just as management helps staff members see their roles and goals through strong leadership practices, thereby empowering staff members, staff members can equally help inmates see their roles and goals through mentoring and coaching, thereby equally empowering inmates and creating a genuinely rehabilitative atmosphere.