Managing Security Officers
October 9, 2012
By now, most of you know that one of my biggest bug-a-boo’s is security officer training. And while my list of pet peeves in the field are many, I thought that I may concentrate on just one aspect of the security industry that is one of them.
As you can tell by the tile, it’s how security officers are managed by way too many companies. And it doesn’t matter whether they are contracted companies or proprietary officers. How they are treated in many cases is just down right despicable.
I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always treated officers in the fairest way I possibly could. At First Response (Mission Kansas), I remember a couple of incidents where my judgment was called into question over the way I conducted business with an officer. And in all but one it was my fault, fortunately I had more successes than failures back then.
In many companies, even those within the security field, don’t treat their officers with the respect they deserve. It doesn’t really matter whether they are contracted or not, they are management’s ‘enforcement arm’ for company policies and procedures (I know that’ll rankle a few, but its true).
Yet, even client management don’t treat us with respect. In many cases, the security team is treated with the attitude of a necessary evil, and never backed up when a complaint comes in from an employee.
In my nearly 30 years in the field this has happened to me on more than one occasion. Disparity treatment to both myself and my officers was rampant. In a couple of posts where I was the Field Supervisor/Manager what the security staff did was never right. We were the end result of constant complaints and back-stabbing. And management didn’t back us up even once, even when they told us to do something and we did it to their words and satisfaction. These clients are best dropped from the list of paying clients.
Another aspect of this is training. And what bugs me the most of this, is that after we have invested the time, money, & energy into training officers specifically for that post, the client blames us for something that we did or didn’t train them in. And many times, we were never told to train the officers in this area. Or worse, we trained them the way the client wanted them trained.
Sometimes the security company is to blame for many problems with managing officers and keeping the loyalty of the officers. What do I mean? Let me explain it to you this way.
When we train an officer in one way and then they deviate from the ‘tried and true’ method, we blame them for something that goes wrong. And in some cases, we train them in certain areas and then we blame them for doing it the right way!
Then after we blame them for this, we either transfer or terminate them. It’s our fault but the officer pays the price for the client/company screw-up. That is not right at all.
I also remember a company I worked for in the mid 90’s (Allied Security), where I had to transfer several officers out of an account for what can be said were b—s— reasons. I didn’t like it and after voicing my opinion to the branch manager, he did it himself instead of letting me do it. And the worst part was that we weren’t allowed to inform the officer of the true reason behind the real reason of the transfer or we would have been sued.
That’s what I said, sued. In the security field I seen so many things that were illegal it was unreal, and this was one of them. One of the officers was a light skinned black guy with a red (not dyed) afro I know this because I went to school with him. We transferred him because the building manager didn’t like black people working security at his building, he didn’t trust him.
The other was a lady who literally, they said, smiled too much and was too friendly! That’s what I said. And the sad part was that she worked the main lobby desk and was expected to be friendly, outgoing, and customer service oriented! Yet they wanted her out. BTW, this was the largest private telephone company in the country at the time, and now one of the largest. In both cases.
As security professionals, we need to be more aware of how we manage our officers and other personnel, so that we do it efficiently. Does this mean we should be lenient when they do wrong? Absolutely not. I’d be the first to fire someone if I thought they deserved it. And at the very least transfer then to a more appropriate post.
However, the one thing we have to consider is that the client isn’t always right! And I don’t really care what the old adage say’s. The customer is not always right, and sometimes they are just plain wrong.
And this goes for security company management as well. While we like to think that we are always right and our mistakes will never cause a problem or are so minor as to be annoyance, that’s wrong as well. We are just as human as the officers who work for us, and therefore just as prone to making a screw-up as anyone else.
So, we need to take a lesson from the Attitudes that foster violence in the workplace and learn that; Treat everyone equally and not disparately. No favoritism, And no shifting blame to someone else if we do something wrong – like a 2 year old.
Manage with compassion, as far as you can, distinction, and loyalty. If we do these things, then we’ll get loyalty and dedication in the process. And hopefully with the right training, officers who know what to do when and how.Treat them like adults, until they prove you rong. And if you remember an ealier post, treat them like a supervisor, even if they’re not.
As my favorite said, way back in the 80’s, ‘Trust but Verify’. Trust them but check on them and correct when necessary.