January 30, 2013
Recently I was asked a very profound and puzzling question. What is professionalism? They wanted me to define what professionalism meant to both me and at large.
It was profound because it required some thought to it and serious contemplation. Puzzling because it is one thing that is so hard to pin down, even for someone in their own profession!
Being in security it has pushed my management skill to the breaking point for over 30 years! Professionalism is one of my biggest bug-a-boos, amongst many. I have pushed hard for every officer under me to be professional. And it isn’t above me to either compliment a security officer on their professionalism or correct them when I’m out and about – and then call their office.
So what do I think is the appropriate definition of professionalism within the security field? It doesn’t matter if it is for a security officer working third shift at a ‘dirt-ball’ post or a manager over seeing a 100 officers, it’s all the same. And consequently, it will make everyone better.
First and foremost is the fact that you perform your duties in a quick and succinct manner. The cliché’ I use in my customer service workshops definitely applies. You do ‘Whatever it takes to get the job done. Right!’ I’m not above breaking a few rules or cutting corners or red tape to get the job done. Sometimes it makes people mad – except the person you’re working so hard to do right by!
Next is being perfectly business like and efficient. Just because you’re being business like doesn’t mean you have to be aloof and cold to the people you’re serving. You can laugh, joke, & do other things as well. But you have to maintain a sense of not being too close to anyone, lest the idea of being compromised comes into play.
Next would be customer service. Yes, customer service. Customer service plays a crucial role in being professional. And you have to remember it is reliant on more than just those from the outside, your external customers.
You have to take care of all 5 sets of customers before you can be considered professional. You have to take care of both your internal and external customers. Huh?
Take for example if you’re a manager. An officer calls and needs some information, not crucial but important to them. If you don’t treat them the same way you do a client then you’re not servicing them the right way. Likewise, if a client calls up and needs something, you can’t just ignore them while talking to an officer. You have to prioritize and then deal with everything that pops up – as quickly as possible. And if it’s not quick, apologize!
Another thing is being properly attired and physical attitude. If your uniform/working clothes are not serviceable, the you won’t look professional, which has a lot to do with your professionalism, as unrealistic as that may be. If your clothes look like they’ve been slept in, used a mop for your lunch, or not cleaned for a while, it doesn’t present a very professional appearance. And this goes for both on and off duty.
Likewise, your physical attitude is just as important. No, I don’t mean you need to act like the Terminator. You are not Ahrnold. What I’m speaking of is an attitude that I learned more than 30 years ago living in the military town of Minot No Dak. ‘Walk like you know where you’re going and have something to do once you get there!; I will guarantee you that if you hold your head up, shoulders squared, and walk purposefully like this, you’ll not only clear a path, but you’ll be accused of being professional, horrifying thought isn’t it!
It’s not that it is all that hard to be professional. What may be difficult in this area is to remember every-thing you need to be and act professional. There are many detailed facets to being and acting like a professional. Most of it is intangible and can’t be taught as I stated myself I am still learning things about being a professional after 30 years in the field!
Being a professional also means that you never stop learning. It doesn’t matter learning what, just don’t stop. Whether it be in security or another field that is a hobby. A friend and former member of the Phoenix Chapter of ASIS told me that he reads all the time, mainly security books! Why, because he enjoys reading and his career field.
And of course professionalism doesn’t start or stop at the time clock. You have to be a constant professional to prevent someone from thinking otherwise. Is that hard? You bet it is! You can’t drive down the road to a meeting, flying, swerving, cutting in and out, and swearing like a drunken sailor and expect someone who may see your erratic behavior think you’re anything but lunatic!
One of the best clichés I have for this is one that I have used and tried to adhere to for a long time, ‘The Best Isn’t and Good Enough Never Is’. And of course we could take Winston Churchill’s words to heart as well ‘Success is Never Final’.