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The mark of training.

WHEN JOHN HANCOCK FINANCIAL Services organized its security department in 1971, department management decided to establish a training program for the security officer staff. Managers surveyed the training programs of other proprietary security departments, contract security agencies, and local law enforcement agencies and found the programs diverse, with little in common.

Using elements from the training programs surveyed, the managers designed the Hancock security training program in a way that combined classroom and structured on-the-job training. Topics in the program include liability awareness, crisis management and response, security and life safety systems, facility-specific officer duties and tasks, and security supervisory and management skills.

The training program was designed and taught by department management and supervisory staff, though a few specialty courses (on baton use, laws of arrest, and search and seizure) were taught by external providers. Classroom instruction was given annually to all security officers. On-the-job training was based on officers' specific job assignments; trainees were taught by experienced officers, and their progress was monitored by their supervisors.

The program remained essentially the same for several years until critiques by trainees indicated a negative trend. Security officers began to show low motivation to take part in their annual training. Trainees requested that the department investigate professional, outside training resources to provide a portion of the classroom training. They wanted instructors who could provide more polished presentations, and they wanted to know what sort of training other proprietary and contract security departments were conducting.

Hancock security department managers began their search for an external security training consultant by listing the minimum requirements such a consultant would have to meet. The requirements included

* knowledge of and experience in private security,

* expertise in training,

* the ability and willingness to tailor training programs to Hancock,

* the ability to establish an effective, long-term working relationship with Hancock security management,

* the ability to tie training to the department's and the corporation's goals, and, finally,

* flexibility to adapt to changes in the Hancock security department.

With these criteria in mind, department management interviewed a variety of training consultants. A consulting firm based locally, the Private Security Training Institute (a subsidiary of First Security Services Corporation), submitted a proposal to provide a 40-hour course of study. Using the proposal, the Hancock security director and the consultant sold the benefits of the training program to Hancock management, which allocated funds to support the program's revision.

The 40-hour course covered topics recommended by the consultant and the department's management and supervisory staff. The consultant designed formal lesson plans for each class, and those plans were reviewed and approved by department management before implementation. Trainee reactions to the revised training program were generally favorable.

The following year, the security director asked the consultant to develop a two-phase system of training: a basic course for new security officers (those in that position one year or less) and an advanced course for more senior officers. The advanced course contained a few new topics but was primarily a deeper treatment of topics in the basic course. This new approach to training also seemed well received by Hancock trainees.

In the consultant's third year, the security director and the consultant decided to repeat the advanced training course for senior officers to reinforce their learning from the previous year's program. Although this approach made sense, many trainees complained that seeing the same material two years in a row was repetitive and boring. This lack of "buy-in" by the security staff caused concern among the department's managers, considering the resources invested in the training program.

Based on these concerns, the consultant made the following recommendations for revising the training process:

Increase trainee involvement. Based on the principle that adult learners are more motivated when they can offer input into the learning process, a series of focus group interviews and survey questionnaires was used to solicit staff ideas for training content. Detailed analysis of trainee evaluations of the course was also planned.

Increase training topic diversity. Using suggestions from trainees and department management, the advanced course was designed to change in content annually. Topics were chosen from three broad categories: generic security topics, practical skills (such as first aid and CPR), and Hancock security department topics.

Make training more interactive. Until this time, training had been primarily instructor-based lecture with some audiovisual support. Lessons were revised to increase trainees' activity and involvement in each class. Department management and the consultant agreed on a minimum standard of devoting 50 percent of lesson time to trainee interaction. The course incorporated such methods as case studies, small group exercises, group discussions, tests and quizzes, simulations, and coaching and directed skills practice.

For the next year's training cycle, the basic and advanced courses were redesigned according to those criteria. Trainee surveys after the course showed a more positive trend in trainee reactions. The increased involvement of trainees in the planning process resulted in increased interest during actual training. The increased involvement also raised trainee concerns about the quality and effectiveness of other departmental training, especially on-the-job training.

GIVEN THE INCREASED SCOPE OF training for the Hancock security department and the need for a critical look at on-the-job training, the security director decided to create a position for a full-time security department trainer. That trainer would oversee and facilitate the department's training processes and programs. A candidate from within the department was selected for the position, and the security director arranged for the training consultant to work with the department trainer over the next nine months to establish a training mission and training policies and practices.

The department has made significant progress in implementing a systematic approach to training its employees. The department now plans to focus on several issues to enhance its training programs:

Increasing employees' interest in their own learning. A number of department employees need to be motivated to view training as an important investment in their career growth. Security department managers are concerned about officers who have reached a plateau in their interest in improving job skills. Such officers include people who have a low commitment to their security career as well as officers with senior experience who believe they know all they need to know to do their jobs and see no need to learn more.

Programs are needed to make use of such experienced employees' expertise and help them make the transition to new career and life roles. For less experienced employees who are not highly motivated, the department needs to increase learner involvement and control and refine the communication mechanisms for trainee involvement.

Increasing employees' accountability for their learning. The most recent advanced training course included a review test of material from past years' training programs. The test was administered in a pretest, review, and posttest format. Many of the trainees were apprehensive about the test. Part of their reaction may have been attributable to test anxiety, although almost all trainees did well on the tests. To the security director and consultant, such a reaction indicated a need for more testing and measurement.

If trainees were unaccustomed to testing and measurement of learning in their job-related training, then increased opportunities for successful performance on such tests would help make trainees more comfortable with the process. From a management perspective, some measurement of training effectiveness is imperative to document the value and return on investment of training and to protect against liability.

Continually improving the effectiveness of department instructors. Many Hancock security personnel possess or are developing a rich knowledge of department operations but need to develop their skills in teaching fellow employees. Hancock is currently working to define the security and training expertise required for its on-the-job trainers. Both of those fields are growing rapidly, and keeping up to date with critical skills, knowledge, and competencies requires much effort.

Professional societies such as the American Society for Industrial Security and the American Society for Training and Development are vital contacts for help in developing training staff. The Hancock security department trainer works with the director of security to prepare development plans for department instructors, making use of public training programs as well as Hancock's corporate employee education programs.

Deciding when enough training has been given. Putting aside the thorny question of who should dictate security training standards, the question of what constitutes enough training is related to the need for employees to be committed to their own learning. All companies must realize that, for their employees, life-long learning and work success are inseparable.

Hancock must continually refine its training system to prepare its security employees to perform their jobs effectively, to learn and adapt to future changes in their jobs, and to develop the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary for their career growth. The security training system, like the department's alarm, fire, and other technological systems, must be flexible and adapt to changes in the business and social environment in which it operates.

Based on the experience of the Hancock security department, the model security training program is not a product to be finished but an evolutionary process driven by security department managers' and officers' vision of high-quality security service. The model program requires everyone from security officer to senior corporate manager to support it as an investment in a value-added security staff.

About the Authors . . . James W. Wells is corporate director of security for John Hancock Financial Services in Boston. Kevin M. Connors, CPP, is corporate director of training and development for First Security Services Corporation, also in Boston. Both authors are members of ASIS.
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.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:includes related article on making a good security program; security personnel training
Author:Wells, James W.; Connors, Kevin M.; Robey, Charles C.
Publication:Security Management
Date:May 1, 1991
Previous Article:A window on security.
Next Article:Write it right.

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