Protective service occupations are sought out by a diverse range of people that may have radically different life experiences. A security shift may be staffed by recent grads or retirees, former military service members or homemakers seeking out their first job outside the home. Given this diversity, a one-size-fits-all solution for training and readiness may not be possible. Security Officer is a job description that can be stressful or even hazardous, and it is a position that shows high turnover nationwide.
The first few weeks of employment for a security officer can truly make or break the position, so doing all that you can to make sure your staff are confident in their new role is incredibly important.
Make Sure All Written Instructions Are Clear
The first step to making sure that your new officer gets off on the right foot begins with the site instructions. Every work site should have written instructions that are specific to that particular work site.
While a general manual for the conduct of officers is essential, it should be a supplementary material to the specific site instruction manual. If possible, give your new security officer time to review the instructions before they ever set foot on site. Clearly written and easy to understand instructions will prepare your officer for their first day of duty and give them a reference in the coming weeks as they become acclimated to their new responsibilities.
Be Aware of Their Background and Train Accordingly
On the job training of your officer shouldn't end the first day on the job. Training should be a process of long-term observation on the part of a supervisory officer. Be aware of the prior experience that your officer is bringing to the table. While former military service members and police officers will come to the site already spun-up on the many fundamentals of protective service, they may be prone to overreach if they do not have a firm understanding of the limitations of their role and the restrictions that did not exist in their previous position.
Likewise, those with little or no experience may find themselves intimidated by their new occupation or feel uncomfortable with being given responsibility or authority in excess of what they are used to. Training and evaluation should be tailored to help individuals achieve the standards expected of them while incorporating these factors.
Build Confidence Alongside Competence
One of the most important aspects of success as a security officer is the ability to project confidence and competence. This is important not only for potential confrontations with individuals engaged in undesirable activities but also for reassuring clients and giving them a feeling of safety on a regular basis. These soft skills are just as important to success as technical knowledge and procedural awareness.
While this may take time to develop, it is one area where patience and perseverance realizes dividends when your officer comes into their own and is able to command a worksite with authority and confidence.
Encourage Learning and Professional Development
Depending on the nature of the site, a security officer can find themselves with a great deal of downtime throughout their shift. Encourage your officer to use the time productively by providing them with reading materials and self-paced courses to give them a sense of professional velocity throughout the work day. An educated and career-focused officer is worth two officers that are bored and idle throughout their work shift. You will find that the time and effort put into making these available will more than pay off in the months and weeks to come.