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How to succeed by really trying - the sequel.

IN THE FEBRUARY 1987 ISSUE OF Security Management I wrote an article titled "How to Succeed by Really Trying." In that article I challenged security managers to improve productivity, boost morale, and tap an underused resource. I presented a philosophy and methods that they could give to entry-level employees to enhance their potential for career growth.

Since that time I have followed my own advice and can report on the validity of my propositions.

In that article I urged security managers to see security officers not as just warm bodies but as an untapped source of talent, knowledge, and ability. Officers are, after all, human beings who experience stresses and ambitions that can be channeled into productive efforts to serve both the company's and their own best interests.

Now, four years later, the preeminent management buzzword is total quality, management. This term expresses much the same philosophy as I espoused earlier. The greatest productivity can be achieved if every employee is a contributor to the successful operation of the company. This is accomplished by tapping employees' knowledge and talent.

In "How to Succeed by Really Trying" I pointed out that everyone has a responsibility for determining his or her own future, and that by developing a plan, the chances of realizing career goals can be enhanced.

While I opted for a career path involving staff support as opposed to operational management of a security contract, everyone's needs and interests differ. Regardless, you must make that first step and decide what your goals are and what you consider success.

While on the subject of goals, remember that the only way to avoid frustration is to set intermediate, achievable goals. If your ultimate aim is to be the president of the company and you don't identify and pursue smaller stepping stones along that path, you will become frustrated and fail to achieve your objective.

TO FIND THESE STEPPING STONES ON the career path, use energies represented by these key concepts: preparation, initiative, and imagination. Using these concepts will ensure that your efforts do not go unnoticed.

In my case, preparation has been more than just an initial effort. I find myself constantly reevaluating my state of preparedness, and I frequently look at how it relates to my goals.

Many steps are available for career advancement. Some of the steps I've taken include earning college degrees, improving my technical skills, and becoming a Certified Protection Professional (CPP).

I frequently find that entry-level security employees have credentials in such skills as self-defense or arrest techniques. However, are these the skills that will make a senior position more accessible?

In most cases, if you can't show some degree of business skills, specialized security knowledge, or planning abilities, then you won't make a breakthrough.

A good way to evaluate what special skills are needed to become a more attractive candidate for advancement is to talk to the boss. He or she is certain to appreciate your interest and likely to have suggestions for improving your opportunities. After all, managers don't inherit their positions; they grow and advance like everyone else.

Another way a manager may tap untouched potential is to offer unique assignments outside the normal scope of an employee's job classification. Such assignments allow the employee to learn and show off his or her abilities, not to mention getting a job done with no impact on the staff.

I seized just such an opportunity to break out of the guard force-risking loss of seniority and a layoff if I returned to the guard force-to produce a physical security plan for our customer, NASA. I took the initiative, the second key concept, in furthering my career.

The chance to show my abilities paid off, and I earned a permanent assignment to the physical security planning staff.

Even if such opportunities are not normally available in your organization, ways to take initiative are available. First, do your best possible work in whatever job you are assigned. Managers notice hard work and results.

Second, don't be afraid to make suggestions about how to improve operations. Make sure they are good suggestions, remembering that your objective is to show off talent, not annoy the boss with irrelevant or disorganized ideas.

Submit your ideas in writing in neat, organized, and thoughtful ways. Use your imagination and show that you can think.

Third, if an opportunity comes your way, seize it. An old military axiom, "Never turn down a combat assignment," really applies. No one who is timid or unsure of his or her potential will ever travel far up the career path.

Another way to optimize your chances of showing initiative is to evaluate what the company's needs are. Every organization has important jobs that are unpopular. If you identify one of these and volunteer for it, you are likely to get a job that will earn you recognition and the gratitude of management.

I recognized that no one liked new work proposals, yet they are the lifeblood of a contracting, service-oriented company. By volunteering to prepare proposals, I was exposed to senior company officials, and I received recognition from both the managers and the customers who reviewed my work. I was even able to enhance my standing with competitors, a valuable asset when the time comes for a career change.

Throughout your career you should constantly seek ways to use the final key concept-imagination. One of the first ways I used my imagination to excel was by writing for Security Management.

That first article, "How to Succeed by Really Trying," was rewarding in terms of attention earned from management. Throughout the years, I've kept up the effort and written other articles. I am constantly amazed by the calls I get from other security professionals and the recognition I've gained from having my articles published.

You may not be a writer. Other ways to use your imagination are available. For example, every day on the job you should use imagination to find that unique, cost-effective, or innovative solution that best meets the company's needs. Progressive managers are interested in thinkers, not staffers stuck in a rut.

If at the same time your imagination shows you a way to stand out, all the better. You can achieve recognition by serving in professional organizations, speaking at seminars, or teaching security at local schools-anything that shows your abilities at their best.

Don't be afraid to let your imagination lead you through some changes in your career path. For me, the opportunity to compete for promotion to an operational position involving the guard force triggered my imagination and led me to recognize that a combination of technical skills and operational experience would enhance my career opportunities.

In 1987 the target audience of my article was the entry-level employee, but I've found in following my own advice that these principles are sound no matter what level you occupy.

Prepare and study, study, study. Develop a library of technical and management resources. Improve your standing by earning graduate degrees or special certifications. Attend security, business, or management seminars. Constant improvement is essential for continued growth.

Show initiative. Find ways to use your skills, and don't forget to help those under you, showing that you are a good manager and recognize all the resources available.

Finally, keep your imagination active. Growth depends on the ability to think. Without the ability or willingness to seek and find unique solutions to problems, you are eventually bound to run into a brick wall that can't be surmounted.

If you as a manager find that you have an ambitious employee making efforts to achieve career growth, then you have a special responsibility and an opportunity.

Provide your employees with unusual projects and give them opportunities to display their talents. Everyone deserves a chance to succeed.

And if they fail, be frank. Kind words are not going to serve as well as useful and realistic advice about subjects for improvement. Personal attention will earn employees' loyalty and respect, and they'll do a better job next time.

Now, some four years after first offering my advice, I can say that these methods have worked for me and are still valid. I hope that they will be just as successful for you.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:How to Succeed by Really Trying, Security Management, 1987
Author:Jenkins, C. Gordon
Publication:Security Management
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:How security and quality go hand in hand.
Next Article:The eye of the storm.

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