Security services have become a very lucrative and important business in recent years. The threat of violence, vandalism and criminal activity has gone up in recent decades. Businesses, property owners and citizens feel unsafe and many agree that personal security officers make them feel much more secure.

It is no surprise that more and more security guard companies are entering the market. Recent estimates show that the industry generates over $30 billion in the US every year. There are millions of people employed in the security sector either as guards and surveillance officers or device manufacturers.

With many new security companies entering the business, customers have some concerns about guard training and service quality. In this blog, we consider many pertinent issues surrounding security officer training and development.

Options for Security Guard Training

Security officer positions did not require much training or qualifications until recently. Most businesses just hired someone with a diploma, good physical fitness and a clear criminal record. Some businesses preferred former police officers or veterans retired from the army but the rules were relaxed more or less.

Things have changed and good security firms have a higher selection and training process in place nowadays.  Understanding of modern surveillance tech has become a must. Technology is making a huge impact on the security industry. In the future, security guards will be expected to be tech-savvy and assertive. They must be able to make tough decisions in high-pressure situations.

As security jobs will require guards to take on more responsibilities they will also need to have more experience and training. If you want your security guards to be ready for modern challenges and perform at a high level of customer satisfaction then you will need to ensure that they go through a comprehensive training program.

Here are some of the basic elements that must be part of every security program.

  1. How to monitor and guard client premises
  2. How to operate various types of surveillance equipment
  3. Methods for theft prevention
  4. How to prioritize tasks
  5. How to escort individuals and visitors around a site
  6. How to escort visitors and unwanted guests off the client premises
  7. How to assist client for the secure transportation of money or highly-priced goods
  8. How to communicate with emergency services
  9. Quick decision making under stressful situations

The following points should be definitely included in the security guard training program.

  • Teach security officers how to maintain a high visible presence on premises to deter illegal behavior
  • Educate guards on relevant legislation and security law
  • Provide guards adequate understanding of civil and criminal law
  • Provide fire safety awareness and train guards on protocols for handling fire alarms
  • Train guards on a standardized process for detecting, deterring, observing and reporting events at work
  • Provide guards sound knowledge on emergency procedures
  • Provide guards with drug awareness
  • Teach guards on appropriate procedure for searching individuals
  • Train security officers on escorting visitors on client premises
  • Teach guards on how to assess a situation and how to take appropriate response actions
  • Guidance on de-escalation and disengagement techniques
  • Train guards on conflict resolution
  • Provide First Aid training
  • Show security officers how to monitor and control traffic on a busy premises
  • Show guards on how to observe, identify and report health or safety hazards at the workplace

Assess the Current Skills of and Training Provided to the Guards

Security guard training begins with a fair and accurate assessment of where your guards’ current skills are and where you need them to be.

If you are not satisfied with the service level that your guards are providing to clients, there is a good chance that their training has been inadequate. To improve your security guard service, assess the orientation as well as the training and development program. Training should be assessed on the following points.

  • What was the duration of training provided to the guards?
  • What topics and issues were covered in the training?
  • Did the training occur at your property or on another location?
  • Who was responsible for providing the training?
  • How long was the training for each guard?
  • Did the guards clearly understand the purpose of training and outcome of the training program?
  • How were the guards assessed on training received?

The best way to assess the training is to sit through an orientation to see how the guards are being prepared to provide service for clients. Make a note of the things that you would like included in the training program.

Ensure that Your Guards Hold Valid Licenses

In most US states private security guards are required to receive a specified amount of training before they are licensed to work professionally. Security guard qualification is generally covered under different licensing authorities in different states.

Find out what the requirements are in your state and make sure that any guards that you hire and employ for your company hold valid licenses to work. Furthermore, make sure that any guard’s licenses that are close to expiry are renewed by the guard before you assign them to a client’s premises.

Share Useful Information with Your Security Guards

One great way to develop security officers for the future is to share information with them on a regular basis. Encourage your security guards to not look at their work as just a job but as a long term career within the industry.

Every security company should conduct orientation classes for new hires when they first join the firm. Provide them with an employee handbook for reference while they’re at work as well.

Now things may be a little different when they are at the site, so teach them how to improvise and adapt to different situations. Officers should always be willing to learn from their surroundings and discuss important events with their supervisors. This will go a long way in establishing the habits expected from a professional security guard.

Encourage your security team members read about a variety of topics related to security law and new technology used in the sector. Try to rotate them around so that they don’t become too used to a single type of security job.

For example, if an officer is assigned to a retail store, provide them with magazines about the retail and FMCG industries. If you have to assign them to a private bank, provide them with material about banking security measures. If they have to assign them to night duty, help them find training material that will allow them to adjust to the shift.

Test Your Officers Knowledge and Fitness Regularly

Training and development are only one part of the security guard training process. Another important part of the training process is to test your officers’ fitness and knowledge regularly. This will help you determine where stand in terms of your expectations.

Too many security businesses become relaxed about their security personnel’s training levels after they’ve secured some long-term, steady contracts. This is what causes a decline in the standard of services provided to clients.

If you don’t test your officers, you won’t know whether they actually learned and retained what you tried to teach them. They also won’t know what more work they need to do to improve. Testing your officers establishes clear expectations and makes it easier to correct issues in the future.

Whether you provide training to your security guards in a classroom, conduct on the job training, or just run a yearly refresher course, you should follow through with written tests and/or Q&A sessions after every round of training.

Multiple choice questions can work, but essay questions are also useful. Essays force your security guards to think about their answer and express it in their own words, which is way better to assess someone’s understanding of key concepts. MCQ, on the other hand, is better to find out technical information.

Informal interviews can also be conducted to assess guards’ understanding. Make it a habit to ask your security officers a question about their ongoing assignments. You can also ask follow up questions to get as much detail as possible.

Tests help clarify your security guards’ understanding of issues and also improve their communication skills.

Both types of tests, written and oral will keep your security guards on their toes and ensure that they learn as much as they can about their assignment. Preparing for tests will also help to keep them up-to-date on their post, client needs, and developments within the company and the industry.

Counseling and Mentoring

Either you or trusted field supervisors should conduct regular inspections of your security guards at client premises. These visits need to be more than just a simple check up on the guards to make sure that they are at their posts.

Ask your security officers questions about the post, post orders, and anything they think could be improved. Be receptive to their feedback and make them feel respected and valued.

If you see any shortcomings in your guard’s knowledge or behavior, be sure to offer them further development and counseling opportunities.

Counseling involves two-way communication where you assess the physiological issues faced by the guard and find them ways to overcome work challenges. It involves motivating security guards about their work and let them know what they can do to improve their skills and pay etc.

One way to be effective at mentoring guards is to create counseling templates, suitable for different occasions. The template may contain all of your security firm’s program requirements and philosophies. Above all, remember to include words of encouragement in the template document that can motivate and inspire your team.

The good thing about the counseling template is that you have to create it only once, but you can use it as many times as you want. When working with a guard, customize your template by adding the trainee’s name and date along with the trainee’s and supervisor’s signatures.

A well-documented series of counseling sessions show how the trainer was involved in the guard’s development process.

Documentation of Training

Documentation is one of the least favored topics for many. However, it is one of the most important elements that a training program must cover to ensure adequate training has been provided to all security guards.

The starting point is to develop a complete checklist of tasks that your security officers will be required to do to complete their training. These include day-to-day routine tasks, special tasks and recurring items.

The training record holds the training program and all the relevant documents together. A training record lists all the training activities that the trainee is involved in. It should be initiated when a new guard joins the organization and get their initial training. The document should be kept updated and signed off by the trainer at every stage.

The training record can be useful to identify what training has been provided and whether guards have any additional training requirements. It is also the source for promoting, firing and defending your security officers in case of issues with the client.

The document should be maintained by the security firm and never be left with the trainee.

The format of the training document varies from person to person, but a list of tasks with training dates and initials, and certifications are the minimum required. A counseling sheet that allows the supervisor/trainer to make official remarks to the trainee is also good to keep in the record. Also include copies of any certificates of training the trainee receives.

Summary

No security guard can become an expert in his or her work by sitting around. There’s no magic spell to turn average security guards into capable security officers. It takes a lot of hard work for your employees to gain the knowledge, fitness and skills that they need to become effective guards.

Security firms are an integral part of this development process. They need to take a hands-on approach to develop their team.

Make sure that you develop a comprehensive training program and that your supervisors take a keen interest in developing your security team for great results.