Generational Differences in the Criminal Justice Workforce

Week 1 Generational Differences in the Criminal Justice Workforce





Generational Differences

There are many agencies within the criminal justice system, law enforcement, like the police and corrections, and the courts all work together towards the goal of a safe community. These agencies all have different responsibilities, but work toward protecting the victims, prosecuting the guilty, providing rehabilitation and punishment to criminal offenders. Proper Management and Leadership is critical to every aspect of the criminal justice system. For the discussion of this paper, I have selected the police, as they are the most effective agency. They are highly controlled and the first to be responsible for social control (Batts, 2012). This paper will continue on to describe the management, leadership and organization in relation to criminal justice, as well as their respective roles. Additionally, this paper will describe the different generations of criminal justice organizations and detail each of their best leadership aspects.

Defining management, leadership and organization within criminal justice management:

Management is an ongoing process of organizing resources, people, and finances to accomplish certain tasks in achieving the organizational goals (Stojkovic, 2014). In any organization, the management will consist of many individuals between upper, middle, and lower management. The functions these management individuals cover includes planning, coordinating, organizing, commanding and offering feedback. Managers have a difficult task these days with the ever changing environment. These managers are tasked with formulating goals, making decisions, creating a mission, framing policies and procedures, and uniting employees in the organization so that completion of related tasks can be get done (Stojkovic, 2014). And while these positions are described as supervising, controlling and overseeing of the criminal justice system, they all play an important role. All three agencies, the courts, police, and corrections of the criminal justice system use the same type of management style (Stojkovic, 2014).


One of the most important tasks leadership is responsible for is to motivate and inspire workers to participate in accomplishing organizational goals. Good Leadership will lead their employees in completing projects on time. They will assist in supporting changes in the organization that help long term goals. In criminal justice, leadership adopts practices of inspiration and motivation to others to do ethical performance in their obligation and duties (Stojkovic, 2014)”. When it comes to agencies like the police, leadership is critical and must quality leadership. They are charged with leading their officers in operational work in the pursuit of investigating and arresting law breakers.


An organization is a company, corporation or other group of people who work together to achieve the organizational goals. The structure, size, goals, values and missions of organization varies greatly from place to place. While organizations can be for profit, those like the criminal justice system are non-profit entities and are service based (Stojkovic, 2014)”. And while they do attempt to generate a profit, the profits are only used to provide services, identify, prevent, deter and handle crimes. The courts, police, and corrections are the major organizations of the criminal justice.

The role of a manager and Leader

Like other organizations, the criminal justice fields also employ leaders and managers to steer their organizations. Their roles may vary from institute to institute, but they all include planning, coordinating, commanding and providing feedback (Stojkovic, 2014). They will know how to motivate and encourage their people to complete their tasks not only on time, but efficiently. A good leader is also persistent, task oriented, responsible and an excellent communicator. Often times these leaders pull on characteristic traits of dedication, commitment and when it comes to criminal investigation, a risk taking attitude. Leader’s duties include assigning tasks, giving directions and motivating and inspiring their employees to accomplish organizational goals (Stojkovic, 2014).

Describing different generations in today’s criminal justice

A generation is defined as a group of individuals born to a certain era, and categorized by age limitations (Levin, 2001). We in the US have four different generations in the workforce. Veteran, or those born between 1922 and 1945, Baby Boomers; Those born between 1946 and 1964, Generation X; Born between 1965 and 1980, and Generation Y or millennials which is everyone 1981 through 2000 (Levin, 2001). Veterans are already retired and baby boomers are preparing for retirement. Which leaves the workforce mostly recruiting Generation X and Generation Y either just starting or waiting to be future officers. In today’s organizations, each generation will have their own characteristics, and being that Baby Boomers, and Gen X and Y can all be in the workforce, that’s a lot to take in. Each generation will have their own behaviors, characteristics, behavior patterns, personalities, values, beliefs and attitudes toward work. These generation differences are based on their life experiences, understanding, knowledge, judgment, logic and restraint (Levin, 2001).

The veteran generation is the most loyal to their profession. They are highly dedicated, security conscious and conformist. They posses an unusually strong commitment to team work and collaboration. Baby boomers are depict an optimistic outlook and work efficiently, are self-reliant, loyal to their employer and very results oriented (Yu & Miller, 2005). They often put more effort and priority into work over their personal life. When it comes to a leadership style, they need to be directed by their managers and follow a chain of command. Baby Boomers however do not like changes in their organization, nor are they technologically up to date. Generation X are driven independent self-starters who are resistant to authority. (Yu & Miller, 2005). They are loyal to their employer and have a strong technical ability. They are tech savvy and interested in updating their knowledge and application into their work. They are also not as dedicated as other generations and place a lower priority on work. Finally, generation Y are non-conformists and collaborative. They have a willingness to work hard and like being part of a team (Levin, 2001). They are very resilient in navigating change and capable of multi-tasking. This generation is often times the most educated and technologically savvy.

Aspects of management and leadership in different generations

Leadership is the ability to lead people of organizations while management is the process of controlling and managing the organization. In the work force, both managers and leaders struggle with the generational differences. Problems often arise due to the conflicting attitudes and views of workers born in different eras (Levin, 2001). The following are some aspects needed for leadership and management style for managing different generations.


  • Focusing on goals and expectations: Setting goals and expectations, leadership and management approach of police officers will help solve generational problems (Batts, 2012).
  • Inclusion and Mentoring: Adding a mentor approach in different generations allows leaders and managers to provide different experiences for the generations. It helps focus potency of skills in today’s technology and works towards teamwork to achieve results faster (Batts, 2012).
  • Excellent Communication: A Leader or manager must have the ability to communicate effectively with different generations. With this skill they will be able to manage many problems at every level.
  • Motivate Employees: Movitivation is one of the most important aspects of leadership and management in leading different generations effectively. The performance can often be improved when properly motivated to achieve organizational goals. Police leaders and managers should encourage the team on the right track on strategies and goals of organization (Batts, 2012)

Batts, Anthony W. Smoot, Sean Michael. AndScrivner, Ellen. (2012), Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World, New Perspectives in Policing, National institute of justice, July 2012.

Levin, M. (2001). ‘Bridging the generation gap’, Association management Vol. 53, No. 1.

Stojkovic, Stan; Kalinich, David; Klofas, John (2014). Criminal Justice Organizations: Administration and Management. Cengage Learning, 28-Mar-2014 

Yu, Huichun and Miller, peter. (2005), Leadership style: the X generation and baby boomers compared in different cultural contexts, Southern Cross University.