Professionalism & Security
When I talk about security officers and that we need to train them to be more professional, I get asked a question. What is professionalism? They wanted me to define it. The question itself was profound and a tad puzzling. Mainly because it means something to practically every person in every field.
Ask a computer programmer what professionalism is and you get one answer. Turn around and ask a security officer what it is and you’ll get a different answer. And chances are, their managers will have something even moredifferent to say.
Being in the security field for 32 years, striving for professionalism has pushed my management skill to the limit. Professionalism is one of my biggest pet peeves within the field. I have pushed hard for every officer I’ve managed, supervised, or over saw to be professional. Now that I’m not in the field, working actively anyway, any longer, it isn’t above me to either compliment a security officer on their professionalism or correct them when I’m out and about.
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 managing a 100 officer site, it’s all the same. And consequently, it will make everyone better.
So here are a few of the items that make-up that elusive term so hard to define;
1. 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!
2.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.
3. 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.
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!
4. Be properly attired and your physical attitude. If your uniform/working clothes are not serviceable, then 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 as 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. 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, and not slouched and shuffling, you’ll not only clear a path, but you’ll be accused of being professional.
5. Never stop learning. It doesn’t matter learning what, just don’t stop. Whether it is in security or another field that is a hobby. When I was just starting out, and up until I went blind, I read as many as 5 newspapers a day, 4 or 5 magazines a week, and as many books on the field I could in a month.
This is how I learned. Even though I never got a piece of paper saying I had a degree. Most people who meet me think I have a degree in… something. But everything I know and have taught about security is entirely self-taught through reading and observation.
It’s not that it is all that hard to be professional. What may be difficult in this area is to remember everything 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 more than 30 years in the 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 a lunatic.
The best isn’t, and good enough never is
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 32 years, and 24 studying workplace violence issues.
He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him through his Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/oneistoomany, Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.