Train your guards to be officers

by todaystrainingblog

I don’t like the term guard. I changed my mind about 30 years ago because it demeans the honorable position of security officer. Yes we guard the lives and property of the company and client, but the term guard is a verb not a noun. If we call them officers, that puts them in a more professional light and, hopefully anyway, will make them worthy of the name.
The question for many security managers, and managers’ period, is what the difference between officer and guard is. And this has to go above the legal definition of your local municipality or state. It seems like it may have a complicated answer, but it’s fairly simple.
That answer is that it starts with management. The management team has to refrain from using the term guard, unless it’s being used in a derogatory way because of their work performance. Many security companies still call their officer’s guards as do their clients.
However, they have been doing it for so long that it has become a habit. It doesn’t matter the level of training, pay, or level of ability. They are all guards and nothing more. And not many people think of it differently because they have been conditioned to think that way as well. So the first thing is to change the perception of these people in uniform.
The company & client can change and start calling their guards officers. But then what do you do? You have to change the perception of the client employees as well. And how can you do that, when the employees think that the officers are more of a hindrance than a help. We all know that the officers are there to assist and safeguard the property of the company asset’s as well as employees.
By the company/client calling them officers, eventually the employees will as well. And as the officers prove that they are officers and not guards or good ol’ boys then their attitudes will change as well.
The next thing that has to change is the officers themselves. The people have to change as well in order to have the transformation work and they become known as officers not guards. How the hell do I convince them to do that? That answer and the way to get there is simple as well. You don’t!
The only things you can absolutely do are hiring, fire, and pay them. Anything else that they do is up to them. You can’t make anyone do anything. You can ask and order, but unless they are in the mind set to do it, then they won’t. To those guards, it’s all a bunch of hogwash, and they don’t want to do anything more.
So what do you have to ask and order them to do to become officers not guards? Again it is all up to them to want to change and be an officer not a guard. Hopefully, these tips will help you answer that question for yourself.

• Education
And no I don’t mean they have to have a Bachelor’s degree, or any college experience to be honest. Even if the individual is only a high school gaduat, they can be an excellent security officer. The key is to start learning and never stop learning – no matter what it is. World events, security, or computers.
I surprise people when they find out that I don’t have a degree. Many people ask me how I’ve become so educated in security, not to mention my specialty of workplace violence. Let me elaborate and show you how education actually can make a professional out of anyone who can adapt. Succinctly… I started learning and never stopped.
I’ve had security officers that were conscientious and dedicated to their job. But they weren’t educated or looked the part of a professional. On the other hand, I’ve also had ‘guards’ that had college degrees and could shame me mentally, but they were guards.
Before going blind I was used to reading as many as 4 – 5 newspapers a day. Additionally, I read magazines all the time as well. That’s where I self-educated myself. I read whatever and whenever I could, even industry specific magazines on plastics, cardboard, construction, & heavy manufacturing, amongst others.
The key is to let your officers know what’s going on within the company & industry. And it doesn’t matter what the industry is. If you are in a plastics plant, do you read any manufacturing or plastics magazines? Those are just as important. If you’re contracted, you have to know your client’s business and how it works.
Going along with this is the initial orientation class that most companies will put you through. At least there is hope that they will anyway. Pay attention to what’s being taught in the class. It may be different from company to company, but remember this is generalized training. Things will be different when you get on your post and start working at the client site. Or if you’re a proprietary officer, to pay extra close attention in orientation, because this is where you’ll first learn about being a professional officer, if the training is adequate.
And lastly on educational aspects, just because you’ve completed however many hours of training videos or OJT it’s not even close to being enough for training you. Nothing can compare to the difference between formal classroom training and OJT for the same training.

The 2nd part of this post will be next week.

Here’s an interview for a podcast that I did. I hope you enjoy what I have to say about how observe & report is obsolete and the wrong way for security officers to complete their duties;

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 field for nearly 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 at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.