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Taking training to the T.

Security managers in both the private and public sectors play a critical role in orienting and training new employees. They are often the first important role models and shapers of new employees' attitudes toward their jobs, the security unit to which they are assigned, and the whole organization.

In addition, security managers are expected to demonstrate the required skills of a particular job and to provide and reinforce the knowledge required for the new employee to perform his or her job in an acceptable manner.

In many cases, however, security managers are primarily selected for their expertise and performance in a previously held nonsupervisory job. In the training field, they are generally what is called subject-matter experts (SMEs).

A common example of this phenomenon is when an outstanding investigator is chosen for a management position and the promotion is based primarily on his or her investigative skills. After being selected for a management position, however, many SMEs are given little or no supervisory training. Even fewer are given training in one of their most important management tasks - providing effective on-the-job training for their newly assigned subordinates.

With little or no instruction and understanding of adult learning and teaching principles, the effectiveness of the on-the-job training security managers provide to their subordinates is greatly reduced.

This article is a brief attempt to discuss some basic adult education principles for security managers. It also reviews a basic four-step method for improving their training skills.

Many security managers have limited experience in effective adult education principles. Many attended college courses that were theoretically oriented and primarily used a lecture format where the instructor stands in front of the class and presents much of the material with limited instructor-student interaction.

Others attended professional courses or seminars where the instructors are subject-matter experts in their particular specialties such as investigations and guard force management.

Many of the technical courses these security managers have attended have had little actual instructor-student interaction or real-world application of the subject matter.

In a lot of cases, the SME giving the presentation has had little or no exposure to adult learning and teaching principles. The overall learning philosophy of such courses, unfortunately, is one in which the instructor dominates the group as the transmitter of information, with the learners viewed as passive receivers of information.

Many security managers exposed to such learning experiences assume that the teaching techniques used are examples that they can model in their on-the-job training roles with newly assigned employees.

Experts in adult training and education, however, have found that such learning experiences are not the most effective means to provide technical and skills training for adult learners, especially in the small on-the-job training environments that security managers frequently find themselves in.

In today's world of tight budgets one of the first questions top management must ask is, Do we need to invest scarce time and resources in training our managers in adult teaching and learning principles? The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), one of the primary US organizations devoted to training adults, lists the following benefits of using managers as trainers:(1)

* Line managers know the job tasks of their subordinates the best. If they possess appropriate training skills, managers or supervisors are better suited to training others.

* Technology - including office, manufacturing, and communications - is changing so rapidly that training departments are unable to keep up with the skills training required. Since changing technologies require training as quickly as possible, often not enough time is available to develop effective classroom teaching solutions.

* Training can be conducted on an as-needed basis.

* Training on the job eliminates the need to simulate the work environment in a classroom. Such simulations can be costly, especially when computers or special machinery is required.

* Training is much easier and faster on the job. The employee can become more productive much faster when the manager or supervisor does the training.

It makes good business sense to train security managers and supervisors in the principles of adult teaching. Improving their effectiveness as on-the-job trainers should also improve the learning process and performance of the employees they supervise.

Malcolm Knowles, a renowned leader in adult education, described the primary philosophical differences between teaching adults and teaching children, the latter being the method to which many SMEs and security managers have been exposed.

According to Knowles, effective adult learning is based on the following assumptions:(2)

* The need to know. Adults need to know why they need to learn something before learning it.

* The learner's self-concept. Adults have a self-concept of being responsible for their own decisions and for their own lives. Once they have arrived at that self-concept, they develop a psychological need to be seen and treated by others as capable of self-direction.

* The role of the learners' experience. Adults come into an educational activity with both a greater volume and a different quality of experience than youths. For many kinds of learning, the richest resources for learning reside in the adult learners themselves. Hence, a greater emphasis in adult education is focused on experiential techniques - techniques that tap into the experience of the learners, such as group discussions, simulation exercises, problem-solving activities, case studies, and laboratory methods - over other techniques.

* Readiness to learn. Adults are ready to learn those issues they need to know and that provide them with a better ability to cope effectively with the real-life situations that they will face.

* Orientation to learning. In contrast to youths' subject-centered orientation to learning, adults are life-centered. Adults are motivated to learn something if they think it will help them perform tasks or deal with problems in their lives.

Furthermore, adults learn new skills, values, and attitudes more effectively when these issues are applied to real-life situations.

If the assumptions about adult teaching and learning put forth by Knowles are accepted, it is easy to see why the actual work environment where security personnel perform their duties is effective as a training environment.

For a Security manager to provide on-the-job training effectively, he or she must be aware of basic individual learning styles and cultural and educational background differences among employees that could effect their learning and attitudes toward training.

ASTD lists the following as the primary types of adult learners:(3)

* Detail learners. These are people who prefer to focus on details and not the big picture. An example is the security employee who focuses on each minute detail in a written procedure but neglects to integrate the details into his or her overall job.

* Main idea learners. These are individuals who pay attention to the overall picture but skip instructions and details. An example is the security employee who neglects to read the detailed operating instructions for an alarm system but attempts to operate it by simply looking at a diagram and experimenting with the system.

* Active learners. These are people who prefer to seek out data. They ask many questions but easily jump to conclusions. An example is the employee who ignores a supervisor's explanations and demonstrations of a procedure and frequently interrupts to say he or she already knows how to accomplish the task. However, when required to demonstrate competency in the task, he or she is unable to do so.

* Passive learners. These are individuals who need encouragement to learn. An example is an individual who because of unsatisfactory prior learning experiences feels inadequate or hostile to training.

The effective security manager should also consider some of the following factors that can hinder a new employee's learning:(4)

* Fear. Some new employees may have a fear of failure and embarrassment of being singled out by their fellow workers as incompetent if they are not immediately successful in a new task.

* Time between schooling. For many new security employees a considerable period of time elapses between structured learning situations, and they may require an adjustment period.

* Sensitivity. Some new security employees may be sensitive to criticism and find it difficult to receive constructive feedback concerning their performance. They may be devastated by constructive feedback or become overly defensive about it.

* Prior learning difficulties. Some new employees may have had prior difficulties in formal schooling that influences how they react in an on-the-job training environment. They may also lack basic reading, comprehension, and math skills.

* Cultural diversity. A new employee from a different cultural group may have language difficulties, making effective communication between the new employee and the security manager or trainer difficult.

* Stress. Almost all new employees are under stress while adapting to a new work environment caused by meeting new people, being in a new environment and organization, and undergoing the initial information overload. This can cause the new employee to pass his or her first few weeks on the job in a mental fog - not the most conducive mental state for absorbing training.

An effective security manager should have certain qualities if he or she is to be an effective on-the-job trainer. Here are a few characteristics of a good security manager or trainer.(5)

* Teaching skills. The security manager must have a basic understanding of adult learning principles.

* Performance observation skills. The security manager must learn how to monitor new employee performance and to describe behaviors and their effects.

* Feedback skills. The security manager needs to develop an effective communication style for each new employee that ensures that the employee understands the feedback and instruction.

* Relationship-building skills. The security manager must be able to develop the appropriate relationship with the new employee so that effective learning can take place.

* Counseling skills. The security manager should be able to help his or her new employees understand their personal needs, values, problems, alternatives, and goals.

A simple, effective program for training managers as on-the-job trainers was developed for the defense industry. The program, which is called job instruction training (JIT), consists of the following four steps:(6)

Step 1: Preparation. The first task in this step is to break down the job by listing the tasks and the steps needed to accomplish the tasks. The tasks and steps should be analyzed in detail and listed in the proper sequence for the employee to complete them. This task analysis also assists the manager in preparing to explain the tasks logically to the new employee.

The second task in this step is to prepare an individual instruction plan. This is accomplished by analyzing the new employee and tasks to be taught. This brief analysis should include a review of the new employee's prior work experience, experience in the same type of work, educational background, learning style, attitude toward learning, self-concept, and speed of learning.

Once the review is accomplished the security manager should prepare an instruction plan for the employee that addresses his or her individual learning needs.

For highly experienced employees, the review may reveal that the employee needs only a basic explanation of the organization's procedures for accomplishing a task, not basic training in the task.

The new employee's instruction plan should also include copies of the instructions, standard operating procedures, graphic illustrations, and job aids for the tasks.

The third task in this step is to put the learner at ease. New employees are usually apprehensive about starting a new job and about possibly embarrassing themselves while trying to learn a new skill.

For the new employee to learn a job effectively, the manager or trainer should let the new employee know what is expected, how the training will be accomplished, how the employee's performance will be evaluated, and how other employees with similar backgrounds have successfully accomplished the tasks.

The manager should stress that if the employee has questions or doubts about a task, he or she should ask the security manager for clarification. The security manager must also reinforce this issue throughout training and in the work environment.

Step 2: Training. The security manager or trainer should tell the trainee about the task to be accomplished and learned. This step should also contain a brief overview of the entire job and how the task fits into the overall job.

The security manager or trainer then completes the task as it would be done at the work site. This step examines the task in its entirety.

The security manager or trainer should demonstrate each task step by step. If a completed product for a task is available, it is should be given to the employee as reference.

For example, if the trainer is instructing a new employee on the procedures for preparing a security incident report, a completed sample should be provided for his or her reference as the trainer goes through the procedures. This also saves instruction time.

While demonstrating the task, the trainer should explain the steps and procedures in completing the task and explains why the task is to be performed in a specific manner. The security manager or trainer should also explain what constitutes satisfactory accomplishment of the task.

Step 3: Trial run. The security manager or trainer should have the new employee explain the steps in completing the task and then try doing the new task.

The security manager or trainer should provide feedback to the employee, both positive and negative, concerning his or her performance of the task.

The security manager or trainer should then provide the employee ample time to practice the task, and whenever possible, provide guidelines for the employee to evaluate his or her own performance.

Step 4: Follow-up. Once the new employee has been permitted to work on his or her own, the security manager/trainer should conduct periodic progress checks to see if he or she is performing the task properly.

If the new employee needs further instruction, the security manager or trainer can provide feedback and refer him or her to a written set of instructions, job aid, or standard operating procedure.

After a reasonable period, the security manager/trainer should gradually taper off his or her checks of the employee's performance. This is done when the manager is satisfied that the employee is capable of performing the required job with normal supervision.

The purpose of this article is to familiarize security managers with the basic principles of adult education; to list the benefits of investing the time to train managers in training employees on the job more effectively; ad to provide a basic four-step model to follow in improving on-the-job training. This article should be useful to security managers who wants to improve their training skills.

(1) "How to Train Managers to Train," Info-Line, (Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development, March 1990), p. 1. (2) Malcolm Knowles, The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species, 3rd Edition (Houston: Gulf Publishing Company, 1988), pp. 55-63. (3) "How to Train Managers to Train." p. 7. (4) Steven K. Ellis, How to Survive a Training Assignment (New York: Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1988), pp. 6-13. (5) "How to Train Managers to Train," p. 3. (6) Leon Gold, "Job Instruction: Four Steps to Success," The Best of Technical & Skills Training, ed. Diane McInerny, (Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development, 1989), pp. 9-13.

Gerald L. DeSalvo is special agent in charge in the Los Angeles Field Office, Diplomatic Security Service of the US Department of State. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:security manager training
Author:DeSalvo, Gerald L.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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