Behavior alteration: the first step to strong security

There are numerous key components that make up a functional security program, but arguably the most important one is a necessary alteration of behavior; which is the willingness of all parties involved to embrace new ways of thinking and acting to ensure that general safety and security are upheld. As someone with experience as a change agent in developing new or updated security, asset protection, safety and emergency management plans as a consultant and internal Chief Security Officer (CSO); I am a proponent of the “90/10” rule. The 90/10 rule professes that 90% of security is dependent on good policies, procedures and stakeholder compliance while 10% is attributed to the latest technological security measures on the market. While it’s easy for a security practitioner to explain the rationale behind a new security measure or protocol, your efforts may be futile unless you can get your staff and stakeholders to care about its purpose and thus adopt any new procedures therein.

Instilling motivation to be more vigilant and support organizational security is easier said than done; so it must be approached and defined properly to ensure both fluidity and efficiency. Here are some points to look out for:

Behavior of staff

If your staff is not motivated and educated about your security protocol, they may be unknowingly putting themselves in danger should a crisis arise. This detriment can be stifled through a strengthening of internal culture and incorporating security procedures into repetitive, simple tasks (to build muscle memory). As an security practitioner, it is your job to instill a hive mind mentality in your stakeholders — especially when discussing their safety. The more interested and engaged employees are with their workplace and co-workers, the greater the chance of them acting selflessly and orderly when complying with a security plan. Security protocol of any sort should never be a mechanical concept, as it can culminate in situations jeopardizing the safety and wellbeing of the institution at large.

Behavior of security personnel

The behavioral buck does not stop with an institution’s employees; it must also be reflected in that establishment’s security personnel. The Houston Chronicle boils down this “proper behavior” into four main buckets, all of which must be honed in both your personnel’s prior training and in their continued involvement in your institution’s protocol:

  • Composed behavior – Your security personnel must be unflappable; this is a given. Not only is composure key in the management of security responsibilities, it is also a huge asset in chaotic situations requiring calm and collected diffusion.
  • Reliable behavior – Reliability is the basic framework for any career in security. One must be focused, timely, and meticulous in their attention to detail and organization — all while mitigating the potential pressures of such responsibilities. Anything less will increase the risk of breaches and cloud your institution’s risk management procedures.
  • Authoritative behavior – While many organizations are moving toward a Human Resources-driven desire to make things informal and without traditional chains of command; effective security personnel must uphold an authoritative demeanor when needed, as their position entails monitoring and, at times, removing and even disarming other individuals. Many of us who come from community policing knows that both can be accomplished through personality and interpersonal skills, but many who have never worked in a public-service capacity may not. That said, a security professional’s presence must be grounded in unwavering self-confidence to maintain order first, so that people know where to look if something goes wrong.
  • Respectable behavior – The previous section in mind, it is also important for security personnel to know the line between assertion and respect, injecting both into their overall handling of a situation. All potential crises must be taken seriously and with authority, but this approach should be rooted in an unbiased, straightforward regard for decency. “A security professional has to be someone who people feel comfortable trusting.”

The common ground between these sections is that security training, management, and education is generally useless unless it is able to alter behavior in the name of safety. If your institution is not already committed to the building and sustainment of a healthy security-centered culture, the time for conversation is now. If you would like to assess your current security & safety program and/or build this type of program within your organization, please feel free to contact me here to schedule a consultation.

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