The Silvertrac Extra
049: How To Improve Report Writing - Security Officer's Guide
Officer reports can contain some recurring mistakes that frustrate security company owners and supervisors to no end. Whether it’s sloppy handwriting, poor grammar and spelling, or missing information, a bad report makes clients think you lack professionalism and can result in angry phone calls to clarify miscommunication.
In too many companies, supervisors just edit out mistakes and call the officer in for a slap on the wrist without making constructive efforts to correct this behavior in the future. In this article we'll discuss plenty of simple, low-cost ways to improve security officer report writing.
Show Examples of Quality Reports
Security companies often wonder how to improve report writing done by their team. It's important to not just point out what officers are doing wrong, but to show them what they can be doing right. Sometimes, that means being patient with officers who struggle to write a quality incident reports or daily activity report.
At first, make corrections yourself and go through the editing process to show officers what needs to improve. After a few times of that, give them the opportunity to correct their mistakes themselves to see if they can fix it on their own. With enough repetition and time spent going over the right way to write a report, they should be able to take care of the process on their own.
If an officer, either through laziness or just inability to learn, continues to make mistakes, then it’s time to consider letting them go. However, don’t always expect them to get it perfect right away.
Remember, your reports are the direct representation of your service to your client.
Related Post: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Incident Reports
Explain The Why
Recently, the community I live in purchased Silvertrac's security guard software, and I helped train the officers on the system. I walked them through the entire process of an issue, from the initial resident/client request, to the inspection, the resolution with the customer, and the daily activity report.
When I explained the parts of the process that didn’t involve the officers themselves, I saw their eyes open as they understood the importance of their own actions. Realizing that the reports go straight to residents and property managers, who can then respond, emphasized the need to make reports clear and comprehensive.
No one likes to do something for no reason. If officers think of reports as useless paperwork, they’re not going to make an effort to do them well. By explaining the why, you help your security officers better understand the components of a good report, motivate them to do a better job, and make them feel like a more valued member of the company.
“When you let them know why, they will start to feel like a more integral part of your business,” said Johnny on today’s episode.
Recognize Quality Officer Reporting
One of our customers in Texas does an incentive program for best report of the month. Each supervisor nominates an incident report and a daily activity report, and at the end of each month the owner picks one of each type.
He sends out an e-mail to the whole company showing the winning reports (with identifying details removed) and rewards the winning officers with $50 gift cards. For just $100 a month, he incentivizes officers to write quality reports and gives everyone a regular reminder of what good reporting looks like.
I did a similar program where I rewarded officers for the best pictures attached to reports. The change was remarkable. I started getting pictures with professional looking lighting, great composition, and all the necessary information easy to see.
Give Officers The Right Tools
Training is important, but it’s also time-intensive. You can take a lot of time off that training and start seeing reports improve faster by utilizing some simple tools. For instance, there are plenty of free apps and websites out there you can give officers that continue to struggle with spelling and grammar. Here are a few examples:
Incident reporting software can be extremely useful as well. We’ve already covered the many benefits of paperless reporting, but Silvertrac offers a number of other tools to make reporting easier.
We had a customer recently that frequently had to deal with vagrants. These incidents can get intense very quickly, which makes reporting incredibly difficult. The emotions can cloud an officer’s memory, it’s hard to report a conversation with foul language, and with police often getting involved it’s extra important to get an accurate report.
This customer had been using body cameras, which are expensive and obviously make guards extremely uncomfortable. We showed their guards how to use audio files to make reports clear and understandable. On first contact, the guard selects the location and records himself stating the details of situation. Then, he can record his conversation with the vagrant, with the property manager, and with any police officer that arrives on the scene.
The right tools can help make a difficult situation less stressful for an officer, take some of the responsibility for reporting off their plate, and end up giving a clearer picture to customers of the work we do and how it benefits them. With these tools, a security company management software is another great addition in helping your team learn how to improve report writing!