As always, I use the material or ‘’fuel’’ for these articles from personal experience in the business or from exposure to others whose experiences add validity to my own views.
In today’s material world, we are judged by three standards:
How we look
How we act
What we say
Because we all judge each other from a distance first, let’s agree that your wardrobe, posture, skin tone and overall physique all play a part in first impressions at a distance. Because we all first distrust before we trust, let’s agree that our actions are noticed first at a distance and as people feel comfortable with our actions, they allow us to move closer. We will revisit this later.
Let’s spend a minute on what we say.
Recently on a security detail I was attached to, a security “professional” on the team was referring to homosexuals using derogatory names. Regardless of your understanding or acceptance of different cultures, let’s revert to our preschool days and remember that “insults hurt”. Because we don’t know who is listening or who might overhear, it is always best to simply keep your non-work related comments to yourself. Negative comments damage more than just feelings.
We are told as we grow up and spend time in society that we should avoid discussing three topics: religion, politics, and sex. Now, we can add to the list, sports, culture, traffic, weather, health, and what time it is. Due to the over-sensitivity to everything by everybody, it is just easier to avoid professional conflict by sticking to communications critical to the task at hand.
We teach these lessons in our academy but not everyone retains the lesson. It is amazing how far you can get with a smile and a nod but people’s nature is to speak. Many people can’t stand silence. What could have been answered with a “yes” or “no” gets answered with a “well…” followed by a lengthy opinion. “He talks to much” is the number one reason a CPO gets fired.
Many times, over the years, I and my colleagues have been asked to take over an operation as damage control. One company had a 7-figure contract in an Arab country. Two of their operatives were put in the spotlight for making inappropriate and insulting comments in the presence of the client’s staff members. This was not reported and was a continued and unchecked behavior until the Principal’s Son overheard the behavior and found out what had been going on for months. The contract was immediately in jeopardy. Luckily, the client/principal was open to resolving the issue by terminating the offenders instead of terminating the contract. We were brought in to address the issue. When auditing the company as part of the resolution process, the HR Director was questioned. The answers he offered as to why the two operators were not fired long ago left me disappointed…’’well they are very good operatives with solid backgrounds both in military and hostile environments’’, ‘’we never had any issues with them before’’… I discovered that the only thing HR ever paid attention to was their resumes, professional experience, and their tactical training background.
After a couple of hours doing my research, I discovered inappropriate posts about the Muslim religion and the Arab culture on their social networking profiles going back two and three years. I presented these to the HR Director. He realized that had he done a thorough background investigation, he would have never placed these two operators with this particular client.
Now back to how you look and how you act. If someone works for you then they represent you. Anything said or done by you, your associates or employees is a direct reflection on your company. And yes, They and you are held accountable for past performance too, on every level.
What qualities are most important to your company’s brand? What performance or personal characteristics are important to you? To your client? To your company’s reputation?
Tactical skillsets, ethics, morals, judgement, performance history, stamina, social skills, the ability to combine all into a single polished operator?
Just because someone has been in the military or worked in “the government” doesn’t mean that they have education and social polish. Remember that in the military, soldiers cannot act or speak as they wish without consequences. In a hostile environment, when seconds count and the wrong move or decision could cause loss of life, good manners and being well-spoken won’t help you. A military officer is disciplined and polished and well-spoken and well-mannered but is not traditionally used to working as a lone operative. A police officer or government agent is used to having an entire agency behind them and a structured environment around them. A Private Military Contractor used to working Personnel Security Details in Iraq may lack the social polish to survive in a suit and tie world, simply because they can’t properly tie a necktie or shop for one.
The corporate security position is no different than any other corporate position. How you talk, behave, and perform your work is extremely important for your profession. Knowledge skill and ability is measured from the interview through retirement. Any failure along the way can result in a hasty termination and a new career. I know people I would trust with my life but would never work with them in an environment where social etiquette was a part of that equation. They can tie a tie, never drink or smoke, they are polite and polished and trustworthy, and they curse like a sailor look a little too long at the opposite sex and are passive-aggressive behind the wheel.
There are people who enter the Protection Industry because it was a natural progression from their previous profession of soldier, Police Officer, or Private Investigator and then there are those who seek the profession from the depths of the fast food industry for the benefits of carrying a weapon, access to celebrities, ability to flex a pretend authority and brag about their Jason Bourne experiences. They post every shirtless gun carrying pose on-line and “Facebook” their every activity. One seeks professionalism as a goal and the other just pollutes the river we drink from.
Whether you are the one hiring or you are being hired to work with others, it is extremely important to know everything about everyone around you. What you see in someone may not be as important as what others have seen in them. An in-depth background check means exactly that. If you are the one looking, look everywhere for everything. And if someone is looking at you, be assured, they are looking everywhere for everything. If it exists, it can be found. My rules: Use a Mentor, Use a Mirror, Use your Mind. Avoid conflict. Avoid being on anyone’s radar. Be forgettable. Don’t try to make friends on the job and don’t discuss work with your friends. Take an oath to yourself and live it for your legacy. Train to perfection and let your paycheck be your judge.
“Bad reputations only take an instant, good ones take a lifetime… Live long”.
Founder & CEO
Athena Worldwide LLC