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Managing by example.

SECURITY MANAGERS OFTEN lose sight of their most valuable asset, people. They discourage employees from making decisions and treat them as potential liabilities who must be constantly supervised to prevent mistakes.

This management style gives employees the impression that the supervisor lacks confidence in their decision-making abilities, thereby creating an atmosphere of distrust in the workplace. Such a situation often becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy where employees cannot work without supervision.

In spite of the progress made by the security industry toward professional management, this supervisory approach gives the impression that security managers are not as confident in the professionalism of their staff. If the security industry is to gain respect as a valid business asset, security managers will have to reassess their management role and commit themselves to the professional development of each individual under their control.

To say that someone manages a department or supervises a project is appropriate. However, when speaking of people, the term supervise should be replaced with the term lead. The word supervise congers up an image of the need to watch people to ensure that they do what they are supposed to but would not if given a choice. Lead, on the other hand, denotes moving in a particular direction and people following because they want to.

Leaders are in front where everyone can see them and the direction that is to be taken. Supervisors are behind everyone where no one can see them, pushing people in the desired direction and making sure no one gets out of line.

Managers who supervise need to push their people to accomplish company goals. Managers who lead inspire their people to accomplish goals on their own. While both methods may be effective, the difference is the amount of growth the employee experiences along the way. By transferring the responsibility for good performance to the employee, managers will soon realize that their need to control their employees steadily decreases as the employees take more of the responsibility for controlling themselves.

In making the transformation from supervisor to leader, managers must remember to lead by example and set the standard by which quality is measured. Employees cannot be expected to maintain a standard that the manager is unwilling to maintain. For instance, a manager who does not take pride in his or her appearance can hardly expect employees to take pride in theirs. In addition, managers should never accept less from themselves than they do from their employees or expect employees to do anything they would not do themselves.

In essence, managers must create an atmosphere that is conducive to the growth of their employees. They need to instill in them the desire to do a good job, not out of intimidation or fear of punishment but rather out of pride in themselves and the quality of their work.

Managers must make a commitment to excellence and accept nothing less from themselves or their employees. Excellence is a state of mind; it is doing more than necessary, better than needed, sooner than expected. Instill an attitude of excellence in employees and the time-consuming chore of supervising their work is transformed into guiding initiative and rewarding good performance.

With a change of attitude also comes a change in performance. When employees commit themselves to excellence, they begin taking responsibility for the quality of their work and the need to supervise them diminishes proportionately.

A COMMITMENT TO EXCELlence is one issue. Living up to the commitment and instilling it in employees is another. The beginning of excellence is a professional attitude. Managers can begin developing this attitude in their employees by treating them and everyone else with dignity and respect, regardless of their position in the department. There is never a legitimate reason to demean or belittle anyone, and to do so is less than professional. If managers make achieving a professional attitude the prime directive in their departments, they will have established the foundation of professionalism.

The next step in achieving a commitment to excellence is training. Training builds confidence, and confident employees are able to think on their feet and make sound decisions independent of supervision. Training should be an ongoing, everyday experience.

A mistake made by an employee is an excellent opportunity for training. Instead of punishing an employee for an error, managers should use the opportunity to build the employee's confidence and self-esteem. Spending a few minutes with the employee reviewing the incident and discussing ways to avoid making the same mistake in the future does wonders for an individual's morale and attitude.

Training is more than showing someone how to do something and then having them practice it until they do it right. It is often said that people learn more from their mistakes than they do from their successes. If this is true, then an atmosphere should be created in the workplace that does not make the employee afraid to do something wrong. Employees who are afraid to make mistakes will be afraid to think for themselves and make decisions, which increases the need for supervision.

Managers should make it clear to employees that it is okay to make a mistake as long as something is learned from it. Employees should be encouraged to recognize and correct their own errors. If they do something wrong that they are unable to correct on their own, employees should be encouraged to report the error so corrective action can be taken as soon as possible. The head of the department should be quick to commend the staff for such actions. Even though a mistake was made, the individual recognized it and took the proper action to correct it.

Getting workers not only to admit mistakes but also to report them is not easy. Therefore, leaders must set the example and never hesitate to admit they were wrong.

Once employees begin recognizing and reporting their mistakes, they should be encouraged to examine their jobs and make recommendations as to how they can accomplish their duties more effectively. They should be urged to resolve problems on their own and report obstacles that are out of their control. An employee should not, however, be permitted to present an obstacle without also presenting his or her recommendations for overcoming it.

The manager should make the staff members feel that they have a certain amount of control over their jobs. Individuals should know that if they are unsatisfied with the job, they have both the power and the responsibility to make improvements.

Employees should be encouraged to ask questions. Questions not only increase staff knowledge but also indicate an employee's need for training in a particular field. Individuals should be discouraged, however, from relying on queries when their own abilities and available resources could be used to find answers.

Socrates' method of conveying knowledge in response to a question was to answer the question with a question. Under certain circumstances, that is still a valid approach. If an employee's inquiry concerns something he or she should know, or if the answer is readily attainable, the employee should be allowed to find the information. This approach encourages members of the work force to take responsibility for the quality of their performance.

Hypothetical situations are another way to help employees learn to resolve problems on their own. By discussing with workers how they would handle a fictional scenario, a manager can help individuals learn to resolve unusual problems using a logical approach based on established procedures.

Regardless of the situation, managers should ensure that employee questions are answered accurately and quickly. If an answer is not known, the best response is to say so. The employee, however, should be assured that an answer will be found. By admitting they do not have the answer, managers are setting an example that it is okay not to know something.

NO MATTER HOW WELL people are trained or how inspired they are to do a good job, there are always those individuals who are either unwilling or unable to perform up to prescribed standards. The backstop for controlling people is well-structured disciplinary procedures. Substandard performance and bad attitudes can be as disastrous to the morale and efficiency of a department as a contagious disease, and they should be dealt with in the same manner--with early detection and proper treatment.

When employees continuously perform below acceptable standards and fail to respond to the manager's efforts to help them succeed, it is time to begin the disciplinary process. Discipline should be approached in the same manner as supervision. The goal is to change certain behavior. However, change achieved through coercion or threat is temporary and creates resentment. For discipline to be effective and produce positive results, the employee must accept the responsibility for making the necessary changes and improvements.

Disciplinary action should be taken by the manager as soon as possible following an infraction of the rules. Delays diminish the seriousness of the situation and send the wrong message to the employee. Discipline should not be confused with or defined as punishment. The objective of a program using this strategy is to change negative behavior into positive behavior and, therefore, a positive approach is necessary.

The focus should be on solving the problem with the employee's performance and never on the employee as a person. The performance problem should be explained so the employee understands why his or her performance is unacceptable and the reason disciplinary action is necessary. Solutions should be discussed with the employee, and he or she should be committed to the outcome.

Each session should be documented in writing, with a description of the concerns, previous performance problems, and the content of the discussions. The documentation should be factual, solution oriented, and nonjudgmental. The manager and the employee should sign the document, and each should retain a copy.

Follow-up is an important step in resolving performance problems. It provides the opportunity to determine if the problem has been resolved. If not, further action can be taken. Even when the problem is solved, improvement can be reinforced. Follow-up sends an important message to the employee that the manager takes the situation seriously and has a genuine concern for the employee's success.

No secret formula exists for managing a security department or for inspiring people to succeed in their jobs. A commitment to excellence, treating employees as adults with dignity and respect, along with a commonsense approach to problem solving, is the best formula for a professional, growth-oriented organization.

Gary L. Heck, CPP, is director of life safety and security for Trammell Crow Company in Denver. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Management
Author:Heck, Gary L.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Previous Article:Is the secret out?
Next Article:The people problem.

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