Security guards have a bad rep. Don’t believe me? Think of the last movie you watched starting a security guard character. Actually, let me help you out: Paul Blart (played by the festively plump, Kevin James) in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) in Night At the Museum, Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) in Observe and Report, or even the Killbots of Park Plaza Mall. All the above were portrayed as lazy, not smart, not good enough to be “real police”, or just plain psychos.
But, you and I know that is just BS. Security guards have one of the toughest jobs there is with actual responsibility for crime prevention, not to mention human life. In Israel, where I’m from, security guards have saved countless lives during terrorist attacks. They wake up every morning and go to work at the frontline of the fight on terror.
So what’s going on here?
Until recently, security officer positions did not require much training or qualifications. Many security jobs only require a GED and a clear criminal record. While at the same time the position is one of power. The apparent contradiction is what caught Hollywood’s eye and is why many movies enjoy ridiculing security guards.
However, new technology, surveillance tech is but one example, is making a huge impact on the security industry. The security guards of tomorrow are tech savvy, assertive, and able to make tough decisions in high pressure situations.
As the job demands greater responsibility and skill it must also require a great deal of experience and training. If you want your security guards to be ready for modern challenges, perform at a high level, and also pass government regulations then there’s no two ways about it: you need a training program, today.
Starting a security officer training program from scratch can be a mission and a half. So, consider this guide as your easy button. Simply read and follow the steps and suggestions to create and set up your very own training program for your security guards. Then use the references in the final section, coupled with below steps and suggestions, to build your own training program.
- What every security guard training program MUST include
- What makes a good training program GREAT
- Factors influencing and shaping security guard training development
- Addressing common training program concerns
- Coursework references
What every security guard training program MUST include
Whether your security guards are patrolling the food court, neighborhood playground or doing armed security for sensitive facilities your training program must start with a vision and philosophy. So, step 1, start creating your training program by defining the vision mission statement.
Step 1: Vision statement
According to Robert Herron, Training Manager at Goodwill Industries, A good statement describes what winning looks like for your company.
It is the ends, not the means. It’s not an emotional appeal for action but a target to aim at. A good statement makes clear the 1 solitary thing that 100% of all effort goes to. Action taken that fulfill that mission statement is a win. Those that do not is a failure.
Here are a couple of examples of what a training program mission statement can look like:
Learning & Development contributes to the success of the organization by partnering with [company] associates and leaders to drive learning that is strategic, measurable, and effective.
- Strategic: aligned with business objectives
- Multiple learning vehicles: considering audience, methods, and styles
- Scalable: leverage content across different audiences
- Measureable: tied to improved business results
- Partnership: shared accountability with the line of business
To be respected and appreciated by our customers for the outstanding quality of our work, creativity, helpfulness, and the effectiveness of our training programs (this one may be too touchy-feely for some but it’s still an example!)
Working as a unified team, we contribute to the growth and profitability of [company] by providing associates with the tools and training necessary for job excellence and career advancement.
Step 2: Training requirements
Your training program needs to address the needs of the entire organization. Start by creating a training requirements document.
What should a training requirements document include?
If you have regulations you need to comply with that should definitely be in there. Stating those regulations and their requirements would be a good place to start your training requirements document (TRD).
Second, on the job safety is usually one of those things that show up in government regulations but, even if it doesn’t, safety training should still be in your TRD. Especially, if your guards are armed.
Third, ask yourself if you would like your officers to earn voluntary certification at the end of their training. If you would, then it would make sense to partner with a training provider whose certification and licenses are considered an industry standard.
Fourth, consider how you want to deliver training. Do you want your officers to come in off their jobs into the office, and take a day out or more for training? Consider the cost of such a program and if that cost makes economic sense.
The major cost associated with training is not delivering the training program but the time off your officers are taking from their duties, That’s why leading companies are switching to online training, preferably delivered through mobile apps so officers can train on-the-job or at their preference.
Obviously, training has a lot of value for a security company so the cost of training almost always makes economic sense, even if your officers are taking time off to complete it. But, even if it does, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it better for less.
Finally, for our main course, the actual coursework. Your TRD should include a curriculum. If your training program is just meant to comply with regulations then it’s simple enough to find reference material for coursework without too much effort.
For example, the state of California requires all security guards complete the Power of Arrest training. The manual is available online and you could download it to a mobile training app and have your guards complete it from anywhere, at anytime. Most apps will also keep records of completion that you are required to maintain for two years.
If, however, you plan on going beyond minimum requirements, you should consider training for security at the local, state, and national levels. You don’t want your officers being accused of profiling so sensitivity training can be very important when working in a multicultural environment.
Technology is always changing and improving; if you’re using surveillance tech, your officers should stay on top of the latest developments in the field. At least, at the manager level.
To sum up, your TRD should include:
- Regulations and government requirements
- Safety training
- Certifications (if desired)
- A method of delivering training
- Course work
What makes a good training program GREAT
If all the above is just common sense for you, then, first off, good for you!! You’re already a step ahead. But, if being good is just not good enough then the path to greatness is in the text below: All you need to do to take a good training program and make it great is – Listen your employees. Make them apart of the conversation and decision making process.
After all, your officers are the ones that will put their training to practice so who better to know what kind of training they need. In fact, training is a cyclical process and their experience in the field can help you improve and keep your training up to date and relevant.
Remember the training requirements document from before? Good. Turn your TRD into a survey and ask your guards what they want to be trained on:
- What regulations do you think are important for us to comply with?
- Do you feel safe at work?
- Are there safety protocols you feel lacking?
- Are there any training certifications you think should be required to perform your job?
- How would you like to complete training modules?
- What are some course materials we should start covering in training?
Factors influencing and shaping security guard training development
So, we have addressed three factors influencing our training program. First, business requirements. Second, government regulations. And, third, employee desires.
Now, let’s introduce three more factors into the mix. These factors are important because, collectively, they define the environment in which the training development is currently taking place.
1. 21st century operational environment
As security officers, you’re charged with protecting the public from various types of harm. Terrorism has increasingly reached the shores of countries that, before, did not experience frequent terrorist attacks. For security officers, this is more than a news headline, it has a direct effect on their day-to-day operational environment.
Characteristics of the operational environment in the 21st century:
- Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, political unrest, and economic instabilities.
- More missions, requirements, and joint operations with local, state, and national law enforcement.
- Rapidly unfolding ambiguous scenarios with little time to reach complex decisions.
- Zombie apocalypse (just testing your awareness).
Obviously, the Paul Blarts of the security guard world don’t need to go through the same counter-terrorism training as a SWAT unit. However, any training program put together in 2018 should consider the above factors.
2. Technology changes
Technology is the biggest catalyst for change, and I’m not just talking about the security industry. It’s true across the board. If you’re not surfing the technology wave you’re already drowning. But, it’s not too late to start paddling and catch up: The coursework for any successful training program should include training on new surveillance technologies and other new tools of the trade.
Officers who are highly qualified, technology savvy, and custom-trained for the specific environment in which they will be working are better equipped to deal with the challenges facing security guards in 2018. This new breed of security guard brings a lot more value to the customer, which, for security companies, mean higher billings.
If you’re training the security guards of tomorrow, today, you must consider the state of the art technologies available in the industry. Technologically skilled professional security officers are already a necessity. They bring added value to the customer, in the form of advanced and quick problem solving, that much is clear.
Also, for the security officer, learning new technologies can help them expand their career opportunities, and better prepare them for the challenges to come. Turning the job description from a dead end job to one with a promising career path. If you do the math that comes out to Win, Win, Win.
Training itself needs to be a part of this, and can and should be delivered using mobile apps. There are several apps capable of delivering coursework on mobile phones and receiving reports on progress and success rates. The really good ones also make the process very easy, simple, and fun.
Bottom line, new technology makes it easier and more effective for security officers to protect their people, facilities, and assets.
3. Regulations, requirements, and reforms
The security industry is a heavily regulated one. But, you already know that. As noted above, if anything changes, technology will likely be behind it. Technology is already changing the industry by taking a significant portion of violence and crime online, which has created a whole new division of security called cyber-security.
However, technology also has a direct effect on security concerns in the offline world too. These concerns will likely be reflected in new regulations and reforms required of security officers. That’s why flexibility is imperative in any training program you implement.
Your training program needs to reflect new regulations and industry reforms quickly and easily. Once changes are made to the program, they need to be distributed to the workforce quickly and enable you and them to comply with regulations.
So, make sure your security officer training program is flexible enough to make quick adjustments as they come along.
Addressing common training program concerns
Growing up, my dad used to tell me that nothing good comes easy, and I guess there’s some truth in that, although I probably would have never admitted it at the time. When creating a security guard training program, you’re going to need to jump over a few hurdles first.
Not everyone in your organization is equally enthusiastic about training. Heck, you might not be entirely sure you want to take this on. You can expect to deal with some push back as you try to move forward, and here’s how you can deal with the most common causes:
1. We don’t have the budget
An oldie but a goodie – You may be thinking: “This is not an excuse, we really don’t have the budget to create a training program”. But, what if I told you that companies that have a formalized training program have 218% higher income per employee?! The same companies also enjoy 24% higher profits than similar companies in the same industry that don’t have formalized training. Research by DDI demonstrates that training increases operating income by 52% and improves productivity by 81%!
At the root of these fantastic results is increased employee productivity, which in turn is driven by the skills advancements made possible through employee training and development. As it turns out, training is one of the most effective things that a company can do to increase productivity.
So guess what, if you’re not finding room in your budget for training you’re probably losing more money than you would if you did loosen the purse strings.
We don’t have IT support
The good news is: You don’t need it. IT won’t like me for telling you this but cloud based software has made a great deal of their job redundant. IT no longer needs to be the gatekeeper between you and new technology.
There are several mobile app platforms that are cloud based. Some are so simple to use that you can upload your training program to their platform in less than 30 minutes. The really exceptional ones will provide on demand support to help you complete the process.
This project is too big to take on right now
Should I refer you back to the first concern?! Any time you’re not training your workforce you’re losing money. That being said, setting up a new training program for your company can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be.
Take the above suggestions and steps and use the below references to create a quick and dirty training program. Then, run what you have by your team, make adjustments, and Bob’s your uncle you have a training program. As you go along, you’ll undoubtedly find room for improvement so address those when the timing is right.
As the saying goes – don’t leave for tomorrow what you can (and should) start today.
How can I maintain control and flexibility
Maintaining control and flexibility may seem like trying to accomplish two opposite things at the same time but let’s try to do the impossible anyway. How? With technology, of course.
Technology may not be the best answer for everything but it definitely works here. The tech now available lets you create, distribute, and track progress of training programs simply and quickly. But, not only that, if you want to make changes to your program, cloud based software lets you do that pretty much from anywhere at anytime. That means that you can control the curriculum, manage access, decide who gets what course work, and receive reports with relative ease.
When it’s time to change things up, your choice of cloud based learning management system should let you change content assignments – like coursework, admin access, add or remove coursework, and generate progress reports without any fuss.
References for security guard training programs
By now, you should have everything you need to put up a sturdy and secure structure for your training program. Now it’s time to fill up your structure with content or coursework.
Here are a few good references to use for your training program. We’re not recommending you copy and paste this because your needs may not be the same as the that of these programs. Instead, use them as an inspirational guideline that you can improve upon and match to your needs based on the topics discussed in the previous sections of this post. Also, you’re going to want to update some of these programs for 2018.
- Manitoba Security Guard Training Program (2005) [PDF]
Manitoba Justice, a department of the government of Manitoba (CA.), has published their 398 paged participant’s manual for their security guard training program. Manitoba law requires at least 40 hours of training. The manual claims to cover all important areas of basic training.
The manual is an interactive one written in workbook style. It includes a list of objectives for the unit, pre-tests, glossary of terms, quizzes, and other tips and pointers.
Put together in cooperation with the CoESS (confederation of European Security Services) and UNI-Europa, this comprehensive guide may be a bit dated but still covers all the main points that make up security officers’ basic training. The main purpose of this guide was to standardize the level of professional requirements of security officers across the European Union.
The training modules focus on measuring performance emphasizing:
- Observation techniques
- Written and oral reporting
- Social skills and customer approach
- Efficient and effective operation
Again, some of the techniques are likely to be dated but at their core they’re still very relevant and effective.
- Training Curriculum for Security Guards (2011) [PDF]
Another goodie from our Canadian friends, this 2011 guide is short and to the point. At 41 pages, it’s the shortest among the three. It focuses on minimum training requirements so it’s a good place to start, especially if you’re based out of Ontario.
Minimum requirements for Ontario include: describing and comparing different jobs in the industry, describing the occupation of a security guard with respect to the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform well, and, finally, describing the job specifications, activities, and demands of a security guard.
The security guard of tomorrow
As security guards you are charged with keeping people and property safe and preventing crime. However, there’s one thing you can’t stop: time. As time goes by the security industry industry changes with it to adapt to new requirements, challenges and regulations but also to make room for new technology that can and will make security companies more efficient and productive.
Ultimately, and this is especially true in the security industry, your human resource is what will make the difference. The best way for you to generate value for your customers is to have maintain and develop a highly qualified and capable security force.