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Selling through professionalism.

GIVEN TODAY'S CORPORATE DOWNSIZING, ANY DEPARTMENT hoping to escape with only minor to moderate cutbacks must undertake a comprehensive review of its operation and performance. All functions of corporate security, such as risk assessment, loss prevention, investigations, health and safety compliance, are deliverable services. On the whole it is true that the more services a department provides, the more valuable the department becomes, but security managers sometimes have difficulty communicating their department's worth to senior management.

Professionalism is an important selling point available to a corporate security manager. Professionalism in security is the culmination of efforts by management in personnel selection and training. Promoting and maintaining professionalism is an ongoing exercise for both security management and the security staff. It is a team effort. Leadership, however, must be demonstrated at the top.

The security manager must take responsibility for setting standards of professionalism. Recruitment and retention of quality personnel are important for success in the security industry, as in any other. Screening and interviewing techniques should be designed to weed out unqualified candidates. Conducting an interview poorly or disregarding the warning signs uncovered during an interview could result in mediocre and marginal employees who do nothing to promote confidence in the security department.

The manager must guarantee that standards of professionalism are met by himself or herself as well as by all members of the security team. It is the security manager who will be in daily contact with executives. He or she must be able to communicate the needs and accomplishments of the department.

A security manager's professionalism is affirmed, in part, by his or her background and experience. All management level employees should have a sound academic background in related disciplines. Today's trend in security management is to hire a security manager who possesses business management and communication skills. It would be poor business practice to place educationally ill-prepared management personnel in fields such as finance or marketing. The same holds true for security.

Beyond a sound academic background, a security manager should attain designations or accreditations that set him or her apart and establish his or her competence in the field. The Certified Protection Professional (CPP) designation is one of the highest achievements in the security profession. This certification signifies exceptional knowledge of security. The security department supervisor is as important as the manager. For the most part, the supervisor has more daily contact with company employees and security personnel than the manager and often acts as a line of communication between the two. The supervisor also oversees and guides work assignments. The ability to direct others in a way that encourages productive input from personnel as opposed to resentment and superficial performance is an indispensable skill for this position. As with management, a supervisor who does not conform to high standards of professionalism is of no use to the security function. His or her actions, or lack of action, could cast an unfavorable light on the entire department.

The most visible component in any security operation is the security officer. Often, a security officer is the first person an employee or visitor encounters when entering a facility. Whether an officer is at a stationary post, on foot patrol, on vehicle patrol, or on assignment at a special function, an image of competence and professionalism must be promoted.

An officer must perform under conditions ranging from profound boredom to extreme crisis. To react to the varied situations, proper training is required. In many companies, security officer training falls short of what could generously be called adequate. A short period of on-the-job training is too often all that is given to a new security officer. A large part of the problem may be the direct result of a limited budget, but disregard for training serves neither the interest of the department nor the company as a whole.

Adequate and timely training in all relevant company policies and procedures and any legal statutes that directly relate to security must be provided. It is important that security personnel know what they can and cannot do. A misjudgment on the part of an officer could result in years of litigation and ultimately in a monetary judgment against the company.

Department-wide professionalism, however, is only half of the selling process. To be successful, security requires the cooperation of all employees in the company. Many companies have extensive orientation programs to introduce new employees to company sponsored benefits and to provide an overview of company goals, objectives, and policies. These programs provide an excellent opportunity to meet new employees and introduce them to the security department and its function. A favorable first impression goes a long way.

The security portion of the employee orientation should be delivered by the security manager. He or she should be able to communicate the message in a self-confident manner. As in any sales job, people hesitate to buy from someone who cannot adequately and competently stress the benefits of the product. Audiences are more receptive to a logical and well-thought-out explanation of security practices and policies than to a dictatorial declaration of do's and don'ts.

Security awareness can continue even after the employee is no longer new. Many medium-to large-sized companies have ongoing management development and supervisory training programs. Frequently, a department's line supervisor may be the first to notice and recognize evidence that security is being compromised. An alert supervisor could mean the difference between a serious loss and a quick resolution. It is necessary to train supervisors in how to recognize danger signs and what countermeasures to take. When awareness is communicated effectively, security and related services become partners.

Training also could be provided to newly hired or promoted management personnel. While it may be supervisory personnel who first call attention to possible security problems, the decision regarding the kind of action to take rests with the executives. A complete understanding of the function of the security department is necessary for management to make sound judgments and decisions on these matters. A knowledgeable security manager can be called on to counsel and guide decision makers on matters related to security.

One dominant factor has to be present in all who sell security services--the desire to do it right. Exact planning, followed by implementation, is a reflection of the person or group of individuals performing the task. The profession of providing protection to others is a rewarding experience. A successful corporate security operation depends on the communication of this pride to all involved.

Paul M. Montminy, CPP, is a senior security specialist at Bull Worldwide Information Systems in Billerica, Massachusetts. 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.

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Title Annotation:Managing
Author:Montminy, Paul M.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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