The past year has found me in a lot of conversations with security guard company owners and managers about the challenges involved in providing adequate supervision for their security officers. I continue to believe that digital solutions are a key component of the formula for adequate supervision. But I often find myself recounting lessons learned from the security business my father and I started.
When my father and I first started our security business back in the early 2000’s we went about managing the business as many people do. As owners, we shouldered all of the tasks and responsibilities associated with growing a security guard company which included recruiting, scheduling, training, etc. As we began to approach about 50 full-time officers, we began to realize that we needed to look at other ways of managing our growing workload. As a result, we started promoting officers to supervisors and delegating some responsibilities to them. Unfortunately we didn’t have a structured program for promotions in place and consequently we made some bad choices and got burned by several of our supervisors. We eventually realized that our supervisors’ failures were not the result of the supervisors not caring about their jobs or the company, but more about how we developed our supervisors and delegated responsibility.
Delegating Responsibilities in Your Security Business
Over time as we continuously looked to improve the way our security business operated, we developed a supervisory development program that helped our company quickly accelerate our growth. The supervisory program allowed us to delegate some of the more redundant operational components and quality control functions to other personnel. Subsequently, my father and I were able to spend more time on more critical issues. Below are some of the key elements that eventually found their way into our supervisory program.
- You have to get started. Whether you’ve delegated responsibilities and gotten burned before or are considering delegating to supervisors, the most important step is to get started. Accept the fact that there will be some hurdles, but know that with a good plan you will be able to overcome them.
- Choose which tasks to delegate. In order to grow you should be spending your time on your security business’ most critical tasks, or the ones that only you can do. We chose to delegate scheduling, some aspects of hiring, and some aspects of the disciplinary process. We felt that with the right training most supervisors could appropriately handle those tasks.
- Setup a system for follow-up. When you delegate responsibility, especially to new supervisors, you can not leave them to figure it all out on their own. You must stay close enough to the process to know if you need to reinsert yourself. In our business we setup a biweekly 30 minute non-mandatory conference call for all supervisors. During these meetings we discussed pressing issues or challenges that the supervisors were facing. Issues could then be addressed with individual supervisors in follow-up conversations.
- Pick the best person. Make sure you choose officers who based on their abilities, values, and work ethic are capable and willing to get the job done. Keep in mind that these might not necessarily be the officers that you like the most.
- Train your supervisor and give them resources. How you train your supervisors will ultimately determine their success or failure and that of your security business. Ensure that your supervisors have been provided resources that help them understand what it is to be a supervisor. Those resources can include in-person, class room, and even online training. Although there are a myriad of online resources, we used TrainingDepartment.com as our online training resource.
- Give them the goal not just a procedure. As a manager you must set clear goals for each supervisor. Just telling them to make sure everyone follows procedure is not enough. Consider sharing with them how you achieve the goals you have outlined. Afterwards, step back and field any questions that they might have as they take on the responsibility.
- Don’t expect miracles, be patient. For many of your supervisors it may be their first time being given such responsibility, so they may make mistakes. Be sure that when mistakes are made that they are used as a learning experience.
- Reward your supervisors in public and on paper. This is the simplest step, but often times in a security business it is the most forgotten. When your supervisors do well praise them in public and in private. Make sure that they are also recognized as part of their performance review.
Every security business owner will eventually have to confront their fear of delegating to supervisors in order to continue growing their business. If your security business’ supervisory development program includes at least the eight points above you will have significantly more successes than failures. But in the end, although effectively delegating is key for a security business’ success, be careful to never delegate “the buck stops here” role. That responsibility should always remain with you.
How are your supervisory programs structured? Are there any points that you would add to this list? Please leave your comments below, we would love to hear from you.
By Courtney Sparkman