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National Association of Counties * Washington, D.C.      Vol. 33, No. 24 * December 24, 2001

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Every Manager a Security Manager

In past articles the HR Doctor has demonstrated — or at least tried to — that every manager must be an HR manager in order to be successful. The basic principles of HR, such as job relatedness, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, positive risk taking, and celebration of excellence are ways of behaving and performing on the job which transcend every specialty and every level in the organization. The days are now gone when a person managing engineers, Sheriff’s Deputies, medical professions, teachers, clerks, maintenance workers — any profession — can hope to be successful or happy in their career, unless they can understand and apply HR principles. Technical skills in the specialty alone won’t be enough.

Now the HR Doctor must tell you that there is a new imperative in our careers as public administrators. Every manager is also a security manager — whether you signed on to do that work or not.

What does it mean to be a security manager in the new era? It does not mean being a police officer on patrol, and it does not mean managing a force of security guards. The evolving paradigm of security is different from our past management expectations of the concept.

The traditional approach to security management focused on physical security, personnel security, and logistics security. It has often been assigned to esoteric personnel in the organization, with a mother lode of opportunity available to retired law enforcement officers.

That is not the way to manage the new version of the security business. The traditional model meant a focus on access control and physical security, such as locks on doors, cameras, x-ray machines and searches — you know, the airport routine! Personnel security focused on doing criminal history checks, driving history checks, drug tests, ID badges, etc.

Logistics meant supply chain security including inventory controls, and the transportation of supplies and products to reduce theft, waste, damage, fraud, etc. In the new model, all of those concerns remain in place and are, in fact, more important than ever.

To this pattern, we must now add a new and overarching element to our way of thinking; a model the HR Doctor calls the “human logistics approach.”

Here the focus is on the interaction between people, processes, facilities and equipment. This is not a responsibility to be safely and conveniently delegated to others. There is no chief of security. The chief of security in the new world of America is every employee and especially every manager.

There is a major role in the emerging security management model for technology. Certainly cameras, alarms, access control cards, retina scans, fingerprint readers and similar security tecnologies will have their place. However, no camera system is functional without humans to interpret and respond to anomalies. Finding job-related criminal convictions in an applicant’s history are of no value unless they are interpreted and applied with an effective sense of relevance in relation to a specific position.

One county agency recently reviewed by the HR Doctor has 300 security cameras, but no one consistently watching the monitors! There are 150 ground floor entry doors in the facilities, but what good are they in controlling access when they are routinely kept unlocked or propped open for convenience. What good are employee ID cards if the cards are never displayed or linked to access control to particular shifts, sites and individuals? In the intelligence community itself, the same debate is now going on about the importance of human intelligence as well as electronic intelligence.

The bottom line of how to do the kind of modern and effective security this country needs now is to adopt a clear and new corporate mission — and ingrain that mission into the daily actions and behavior of employees, visitors, clients, vendors; everyone.

The corporate security model is Guardianship. Every manager and every employee, including and especially the elected officials and appointed organizational leaders, must act based on the new first line of the job description. They must act as guardians of the organization by not walking by problems and anomalies.

The normal way of doing business should now include politely stopping people in the building without ID cards, being aware of packages left unattended, keeping doors locked when they should be, illuminating the dark parking lot, providing escorts for visitors or employees rather than have them wandering unchallenged throughout the buildings.

Guardians will review the physical layout of offices and make the changes necessary to limit access to work areas, to have effective, trained employee-receptionists, standardized protocols for conducting disciplinary action meetings, close liaison with law enforcement which includes prior planning and testing of security responses…the list goes on.

Regular readers of the HR Doctor articles know of the HR Doctor’s mantra of “don’t walk by something wrong.” That applies to the symptoms of unlawful discrimination, workplace violence, poor performance and behavior, and much more in the general management world.

However, only those readers who have attended an HR Doctor seminar on Workplace Security or Workplace Violence will know the origin of that philosophy for this author. It arose from experience in another life — from time spent in the intelligence business, from training in counter-intelligence, and from working in the business during the time and in the place blown up by the Bader Meinhof terrorists in Europe.

Despite state of the art security at the time, the terrorists and their car bombs destroyed property and took lives. Our complacency and our arrogance was shattered when our own headquarters was attacked.

We have again been shaken by the actions of terrorists, this time in downtown America. We must adopt the Guardianship philosophy in every public agency and in the behavior of every public employee in America for us to apply the lessons of the past to bring about a safer nation in the future.

Contact the HR Doctor if I can help!

Stay safe — and don’t walk by…


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