In part 1 of this article series, I wrote about the importance of using the term security officer instead of security guard, and I explained how owners and managers can begin the process of training their guards, both during the hiring process and on the job, to become officers.
However, there’s a lot more to the process than just giving your officers the tools to succeed. You also need to evaluate their capabilities, observe them in the field, and encourage them to go above and beyond for your customers.
While training is the first step, testing needs to come immediately after. If you don’t test your officers, you can’t know whether they actually learned and retained what you tried to teach them. Just as importantly, they won’t know if they need to do more work to improve. Testing your officers establishes clear expectations and makes it easier to correct issues in the future.
Whether your training is in the classroom, on the job (OJT), or just a yearly refresher course, you should have written tests after every session. Essay questions force the officer to think out their answer and express it in their own words, proving their understanding of the concepts.
Informal oral tests can also be useful. Whether you see your officers in the office or on a random post inspection, ask them a question about their assignment and require them to answer in as much detail as possible. This demonstrates their understanding and polishes their communication skills, another key quality that a professional officer needs to have.
Both of these kinds of tests will keep them on their toes and learning about their assignment. Additionally, preparing for these tests will keep them up-to-date on their post, client needs, and developments within the company and the industry.
Either you or trusted managers should be conducting regular post inspections. This needs to be more than just making sure they’re at their post and shooting the breeze. Ask them questions about the post, post orders, and anything they think could be improved. Be receptive to their feedback and make them feel respected and valued.
On top of reviewing the major points of concern, you’ll want to ensure all the little things are meeting your company’s standards. Checking on their uniforms, duties performed, and passing along memos will reinforce the expectations of the officer and let them know the company really does take an interest in them.
Here again, we see the differences between a security guard and officer. Most guards will see field management as a royal pain in the butt, but officers will see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Make sure you or your managers pass along the benefits of your knowledge and experience during these inspections.
Of course, that doesn’t mean your talk has to be all business. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time to shoot the breeze, getting to know what your officers enjoy off the job. In fact, it’s encouraged! You can’t just walk onto a post and be all business and then walk off. Whether they are guards or officers they will see that as nothing more than someone who wants to find something wrong and fire them rather than assist them in becoming better at their job.
Don’t be afraid to even get deeper than just the latest latest football scores. Learn about the officer, find out what makes them tick, and get a sense of if there’s anything going on in their personal lives that might affect their work performance. Don’t pry, and keep a line between personal and professional, but if they’re willing to discuss issues, then be receptive and offer constructive solutions like counseling or coaching.