Set guards up for success
By Winston StewartNews Industry View Opinion Industry view
One of the first business lessons most of us are taught is to always show up for work on time and prepared.
That rule applies whether we’re working a high school job at a fast food restaurant or in a career role later in life. It’s a basic, universal expectation. So, why is it overlooked by some security providers?
The reason is because security guards are often assigned to roles reactively and on little notice. Security firms that have less robust training processes and management systems will try to cover hours without ensuring their guards are up to the task. While they may think they’re helping clients, they’re actually setting the stage for a host of other challenges. Ill-trained and unprepared guards can be a source of unnecessary legal liability and poor service experiences.
But there’s a simple fix.
Effective pre-deployment training of security teams not only alleviates many of these issues, but sets the stage for more successful outcomes and greater client satisfaction. That means ensuring that guards are fully briefed on unique technical features and the layout of a client’s facility. They also need a complete brief on the clientele, residents, or employees they’ve been assigned to protect, among a host of other considerations.
Really, it all starts by asking the right questions. Security firms should work with property owners and managers to understand their specific needs. If the property is a luxury condo, for example, what kind of resident experience do they aspire to maintain? Because delivering a high-end resident experience means taking it a step beyond.
It’s about assigning condo concierge teams that are trained in effective resident relations and customer service. Simply seating a guard at a desk, asking them to check that doors are locked and to monitor who enters the building, won’t be sufficient in situations where service expectations are far higher.
If it’s a retail environment or an industrial facility, what sort of unique logistical hurdles could guards face and how should they be ready to handle them? Are there any complex operating systems that might create barriers to handling an emergency situation in a timely and effective manner? It’s only with that level of detailed information — and hopefully much more — that security firms can develop a comprehensive security plan that addresses a range of potential scenarios and outlines procedures detailing how their guards will handle them.
But no matter how robust the strategy, it’s only as good as a guard’s ability to deliver on it. That’s where pre-deployment training comes into play. Having a structured process to train guards is crucial to ensuring success in the field — and it needs to be based on those aforementioned discovery questions posed by the security firm’s supervisory team. Those answers must be communicated to guards in a fulsome briefing about the property and people they’ll be protecting. Guards need to understand the client’s operational expectations and various day-to-day performance requirements — from the frequency of patrols to important security or mechanical features.
Because systems can vary significantly, it’s important to provide detailed training on specific control or alarm system panels. Reputable security firms typically have their own mock fire control panels to train staff, or will do what’s necessary to ensure they have adequate on-site training prior to shifts. The same goes for HVAC and other mechanical systems. While guards won’t need to be experts in the function of a building’s elevators, for example, they should understand their basic operation and unique features in case of an emergency situation. An equivalent level of training is required for other systems, such as surveillance.
Beyond the technical considerations, guards must be trained in basics such as report-writing skills and proactive observation and reporting. That means that if they spot a problem once on-site, they’ll speak up and make sure a supervisor or the property owner/manager is aware of the issue.
They also need to understand how to respond in the event of an emergency. If a building evacuation is required due to the sounding of a fire alarm, for example, guards must be able to immediately identify mustering points and be able to implement evacuation protocols, among other important considerations. Even simple emergencies, such as a leaking pipe or a slip-and-fall incident, will require an immediate and engaged response. If guards aren’t properly trained, common and preventable issues can result in legislative non-compliance, costly fines or legal challenges.
This may seem obvious, but the unfortunate reality is that these rudimentary skills have been lost across some firms as the need for security services has exploded in recent years. Of course, even the best-trained guards require oversight. That’s why it’s crucial for a security firm’s supervisors to make regular on-site visits, seek feedback from key stakeholders such as property managers or tenants and conduct regular performance reviews. If guards aren’t working out, they should be reassigned to a different site.
No matter the situation, a guard’s training isn’t the client’s problem but the responsibility of the security provider. And if their guards aren’t fully prepared, those employees should never set foot on a client’s property.
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