With turnover in the security industry as high as it is, a security officer that sticks around for a long time can be a rare, beautiful thing. We’ve talked about how loyal, reliable guards can be great building blocks for a successful operation.
However, there is another side to that coin. Long-time guards are great because they know your processes and have experience dealing with all kinds of situations, but they can also become set in their ways—which is probably why they’ve stuck with you for such a long time in the first place.
With new technologies, a changing customer base, and opportunities for growth impacting the outlook of the industry, you need your security officers to be able to adapt to new procedures. Here are five reasons why guards might resist change, and what you can do to help get them past this resistance.
Fear of the Unknown
Everyone fears the unknown to some degree. If your routine gets thrown out the window and you don’t know what’s taking its place, that’s always going to be a stressful situation. Even a not great but tolerable routine will usually be preferable to a complete unknown.
The key to fixing this issue is communication. Guards need to be clued in to what’s changing, how those changes are going to be implemented, and what their new day-to-day routine will look like.
Too often, especially with new software, the decision comes from some higher up and gets sprung suddenly on the officers. Getting feedback from your key officers before the decision even gets made will help you address concerns, understand their fears, and figure out how to come up with a solution that makes everyone happy.
When guards don’t trust supervisors, the operation always suffers, but never is that more true than when you’re trying to make significant changes. Imagine you’re a guard, and you get the news about a new software system from a supervisor who in the past has ignored your scheduling requests, refused to listen to feedback, and yelled at you for mistakes you didn’t make. Are you going to feel good about this new change? No.
In particular, new software can make guard nervous because they think it’s just an accountability tool, and that the decision to use it implies that management doesn’t trust them. To fix this issue, have your most trusted and respected managers explain to guards how the software can help reduce training time, improve communication between dispatch, make it easier to write DARs, and make their lives easier in a number of other ways.
Loss of Job Security
Even the best officers are going to feel nervous if they feel that the new system will mean supervisors watching over their shoulder at all times and micromanaging them.
To the extent that the tool is about accountability, explain to the officers that it’s about demonstrating their value to the client, and that for your top-notch, long-time officers, it’s only going to show how great a job they’re doing.
Johnny’s advice for communicating the change? He says to tell guards, “I know you do a great job, and this is going to help prove you good an officer you are.”
Timing is Everything
Don’t throw too much at your officers at once. You definitely want to avoid rolling out a new software system at the same time as some other big change. Even if it is the right time and there are no other distractions, make sure to introduce the change gradually.
Start with just one property and introduce it over the course of the week. Maybe on the first day the officers just scan a couple of QR codes, get a sense of how things might work without feeling like they have to get it exactly right.
Also, try to introduce the technology on a property where the client is proactive and will be on board, and where you have a capable, reasonably tech savvy security officer that you trust to pick it up pretty quickly.
“You don’t want to stick this in some location where you’ve got an 80-year-old guy working the night shift who’s got thumbs bigger than his toes,” I told Johnny on today’s episode.
Definitely don’t promise the technology to a client before you’ve introduced it to your guards. Make sure everyone has plenty of time to slowly adjust and adapt to the change without the pressure to get it perfect right away.
Old Dog, New Tricks?
Some people just have a predisposition to resist change from the beginning, no matter what you do. The best way to handle this is simply to get buy-in from the rest of your organization so that these guys just have to go with current.
The Diffusion Of Innovation theory applies here. Your innovators in the company introduce the change, the key early adopters spread it throughout the company, and once the majority has bought in, the laggards will eventually follow.
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