As this is my initial blog, I felt compelled to write about something that I feel offers real value to security managers and leaders without adding additional costs as I know security budgets are typically stretched razor thin already. I also wanted my initial topic to be broad and interesting enough that I could spin off additional postings that offer further discussion opportunities. Hopefully this blog meets both expectations, and I welcome any comments you may offer.
If you’re looking for new, cutting-edge, rocket science tips, I suspect you will be disappointed. However, if you’re interested in time-tested, common sense management and leadership pointers that can be implemented without impacting your budget, then perhaps this post is for you.
#1 – Know Your People
It is no accident I’ve listed this as my first point. We’ve all heard it many times before…everyone is different. We all think differently, act differently in certain situations…we are all motivated by very different things. And, speaking of motivators, it is imperative to understand and realize that motivators drive behavior. The following points are provided for further consideration.
- Intentionally seek to find and understand what motivates your people. For some, motivation may come from pursuit of money and prestige. Others may be motivated by the challenge of a particular mission or fulfilment of being part of a team, of belonging to something bigger than themselves. Good managers and leaders work hard to identify and learn about their people…their motives, challenges, strengths, weaknesses, and fears.
- Continually strive to discover individual strengths and weaknesses and use those discoveries to manage and lead individuals, groups and teams. Knowing strengths and weaknesses allows you to put people in roles and situations where they can thrive, which helps optimize overall mission performance.
#2 Know Your Job
Competency cannot be faked or covered-up long term…your personnel, the troops, will know the truth in short order. And when leadership incompetency is revealed, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to reverse the damage.
- Strive to become an expert regarding the duties of your position. That doesn’t mean micro-managing or getting in the weeds when you shouldn’t. But you should attain and maintain a high degree of proficiency in those functions and responsibilities appropriate to your position.
- Understand and embrace the reality that not closing a competency gap over a reasonable period of time communicates an “I don’t care” message to the troops…even if it’s not the intended message. From the troops perspective the manager or leader that doesn’t close a competency gap has made an intentional choice to not become proficient. Again, perception is reality.
#3 Share as Much Information as Possible With Your Team
Sharing information and filling in as many knowledge gaps as possible promotes “buy-in” at every level information is shared. Informed personnel typically feel they are part of the team and not disconnected from “upper management”. They also share a greater personal responsibility for mission accomplishment. Other advantages of sharing information include:
- Sharing information is the best known cure for the dreaded “Rumor Mill” that is a real leadership headache and challenge, particularly with 24/7 operational shift workers.
- Sharing information helps everyone better understand the “big picture” and why it is important that certain activities be executed even though they may otherwise seem trivial. For example, if security personnel working a mid-shift facility entry/exit control point understand the purpose and intent of 100 percent inspections of outbound hand carried bags between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., they would be more inclined to execute those duties in the manner expected.
#4 Get Out From Behind Your Desk
Get out of the office and visit your personnel on their turf…and not only at 1 pm, which is convenient for your office hours, but 2 am as well. And don’t just do it once but make it routine. This is great method and opportunity to accomplish the previously identified discussion points in this blog:
- You certainly learn a lot about your people by going out and visiting them on their shift and their turf;
- You learn a lot about your job by going out and seeing how operations are really conducted (not simply how procedures say they should be conducted) at all hours of the day and night;
- You have a great opportunity to share an abundance of knowledge and information related to the organizations mission and why things are expected to be accomplished a certain way.
Grilling out from behind the desk. Security leadership grilling holiday steak dinners for on-duty security personnel at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, January 2003.
One management approach that kills two birds with one stone is to go out and visit on duty personnel between the hours of 2 am and 5 am. It is my experience over many years that security personnel working mid-shifts struggle to stay alert and awake the most during that 3-hour window. I know this is not a shocking revelation, and security supervisors understand the special challenges of ensuring personnel remain alert and attentive during those hours. As a manager/leader, your mere presence in the immediate operationalarea, especially if you are pre-announced and actively visiting from post to post, is abnormal activity that will stimulate some level of increased awareness and attentiveness by itself.
Dale Jones, CPP, PSP, is the founder of Cornerstone Risk Management, LLC, a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) that offers professional consulting expertise and support in the areas of risk management, security operations management, emergency management, and business/government continuity. Cornerstone also offers a wide range of tailored business development, capture and proposal support services as well.
Mr. Jones, a risk and security management professional with 35-plus years of combined experience, founded Cornerstone after 13 successful years working a number of different positions for three different companies following his honorable retirement from the United States Air Force (Security Police/Security Forces) in 2003.