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BE YOUR BEST, THEN BE BETTER


Professional development takes many diverse forms, dictated by the desired outcomes, budgets, and participants. (Picture: Junkee Media)

When was the last time you did off-the-job training? What about the last time you and your team discussed your operating procedures, or rehearsed an upcoming job? Chances are, there are some uncomfortable pauses out there right now. Chances are, the last training many guards have done was on their Cert II course, or else on a job onboarding or site induction. Think back to that training – what was the “simulated workplace” like? Did the scenarios have the reality required to prepare you for doing the job under stress?

How do you think you’re preparing now to advance your career? What do you bring to the table that makes you the best choice for the job? What we’re really asking is:


What is your professional development plan?


What is Professional Development?


At its key, continuous professional development is an implicit agreement between the security professional, the employer, and the client. Ensuring we maintain our professional currency should be a matter of pride for us, and something our employer can use to sell a quality service to their clients. This, in turn, builds greater trust between the client and the company, making our job on the frontline easier.


The best way to think about our continuous professional development – whatever form it takes, be it formal training courses, informal or internal training and revision, or driven by personal research and communication – should be seen as an investment, both by us as individuals and our employers. This investment needs both parties to invest to make it work.


So if it’s an investment, there must be a return on investment. An individual invests time and effort, and may even pay for some training themselves, while an employer may pay for training courses, or at a minimum allow use of study time (either on-the-job, or through leave). There are some basic questions we can ask ourselves, both as an individual or as a business owner, to determine the worth of a professional development program. They are:


1. What are the intended outcomes of the training?

2. Is this relevant to my current role?

3. How does the employer benefit from this training?

4. How does this training affect client relationships?

5. Are there longer-term benefits to the training?


If we have acceptable answers to these five key questions, then it’s reasonable to consider the activities as valid professional development.


Obstacles to Development


Of course, the overwhelming concern for most enterprises - and individuals for that matter - comes down to cost. The perception of training is often one of significant down-time, set formal courses, and travel-to facilities. All of these costs quickly stack up to cause decision-makers to dismiss the value of ongoing training – especially if the client hasn’t directed it as a contractual requirement. The risk inherent in this approach is that training and other professional development is relegated to an improvised, or ad-hoc capacity.

Even working on high-profile, high-threat contracts, it was often difficult to secure the time and resources to achieve good training, which then impacted the attitudes of the staff who needed the training. It fell, in the end, to individuals to spend their own money during leave rotations to pursue ongoing training – often requiring travel to the USA or South Africa. Eventually, it became clear that the individual investment wasn’t being matched by the establishment, and so less effort was made to pursue their professional mastery.


The quality of in-house training varies dramatically between organisations. (Picture: Prometheus UK)

If this is the case, it quickly becomes obvious that the “Why bother?” mentality will take hold. If a client accepts on blind faith that the provided product is what they’re paying for, what incentive does an organisation have to develop their guards? If our organisations don’t appear to value our development, why would an individual invest time and effort to their career?

Building Efficacy


SO to overcome these obstacles, what needs to occur?

In the first instance, we need to look at our training design. In order to gain the best benefit from any training, we need to ensure that it meets three requirements. It must be:


1. Relevant,

2. Repeatable, and

3. Recognisable.


To be relevant, we need to ensure that whatever activities we engage in, they fit the expectations of our job, or our career. There is no point in spending thousands of dollars on individual training in helicopter surveillance if your organisation never goes near a helicopter. Skills should either enhance the current capabilities of the guards and security professionals engaged by the company, or develop new or better capabilities. To put this in context, an organisation that manages security for large, spread out sites such as mines or industrial estates may enhance their staff’s skills by running internal training on how they expect patrols to be carried out, or they may develop new capabilities such as using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) or “drones” to improve surveillance of the site.


To be repeatable, training should be structured in such a way that it can be delivered to different groups in the organisation to the same standard and passing on the same information. Repeatability also means that training can progress using the theories of component training and no-consequence failure to teach, practice, and assess the skills being trained. Using the above examples, an initial session may simply involve safely controlling a UAV in a controlled environment. We may progress to flying it around the site or training area, and eventually move to using them to practice observing and reporting on practice scenarios.


Having recognisable training simply involves being able to measure the progress of the individual or group’s training – the individuals, the organisation, and clients should be able to observe the benefits of the work. Again using the above example, the obviously recognisable outcome is using UAVs in the site’s security plan – but enhancing the existing skills of the security staff can also be recognised, if a higher quality of patrol or incident report is being produced, or security breaches are decreasing as a result of the ongoing training. Having these recognisable improvements in performance or service clear to the clients not only value-add to the service, improving the likelihood of further engagement, but may influence the client to invest greater time or funding allowances into the contract.


Embracing Change, Finding Opportunities


One of the most effective ways an organisation can achieve, and capitalise on, these ideas is to develop partnerships with professional training agencies rather than attempting to manage and deliver it themselves. This removes the burden of drafting and development of training from them, and allows them to focus on the outcomes they want to focus their training on.

Further, the benefits of outsourcing allow training to be delivered with best practice, as well as seizing on emerging technologies and ideas. Mindset is currently working in this space to deliver cost-effective, high-outcome training solutions for a diverse range of clients – an approach that couldn’t be achieved by individuals or organisations trying to juggle their continuous improvement activities with their core business activities.


Outsourcing training allows multiple small-cohort organisations to send staff for training in a cost-effective manner. (Picture: TacMed Australia)

Are you a security professional? Are you energised in your career prospects in the security industry?

Do you manage security operations? Do your guards have all the tools they could need to make the right impression on your clients?


This has been a brief look at the guiding principles of continuous improvement and professional development – if you would like to learn more, call or email us to start a consultation with our experts.


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