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  • Too much of a straight shooter?

    I was recently made manager of a security department at a mall that I've worked in for several years. Over that time I assisted the former manager frequently and built many positive relationships with many of the tenants and some of the regular customers. I thought I had a good bead on dealing with people, even those who were unhappy.

    I've always been a straight-shooter and was honest and up-front (within the limits of politeness when appropriate of course), but I've never been the super happy, excited to see everyone type of guy. This is not to say I'm not courteous and polite, but I'm not the smiley "so happy to see you!" type. I don't know if this is because I also work as a police officer or if it's simply my nature but it's how I've operated for years. I also would not lie to people to make them happy or smile to their face and go against them behind their back.

    However, I've noticed now that with this position when I am dealing with others who are the "super happy" types, they seem to think that I'm being rude when I am not reacting in kind. I can be completely polite and courteous but if I don't give them the answers they want to hear or I'm at all serious about it I suddenly hear a complaint has been made that I was "rude and unprofessional" These are complaints that I never heard from anyone except when I made an arrest/banned/etc.

    Is this something others have had experience with? This is primarily an issue with people who don't like when I disagree with them or won't give them the information they want. Is this normal for you managers? Or is it a personality issue?
    Last edited by RF7126; 12-10-2011, 02:34 AM.

  • #2
    It can be a tough transition

    It can be a tough transition going from the black and white of law enforcement to the world of corporate security. I was able to make the transition successfully, but have come across many who did not. I've even hired a few LE into retail loss prevention and tried to help them make the transition, but was unsuccessful. Most looked down their noses at retail security/loss prevention and we had to part company.

    The secret is to change you attitude and work hard to fit in.
    Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
    Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

    Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
      It can be a tough transition going from the black and white of law enforcement to the world of corporate security. I was able to make the transition successfully, but have come across many who did not. I've even hired a few LE into retail loss prevention and tried to help them make the transition, but was unsuccessful. Most looked down their noses at retail security/loss prevention and we had to part company.

      The secret is to change you attitude and work hard to fit in.
      I've hired a lot of police Technology students over the years & have had to train them that our job was not to arrest every guest that was breaking every law, our job was to protect the hotel, not society.

      That being said, there are Security jobs where your "police type" attitude would fit in. Less so in hotel, hospital, mall or school etc Security.
      I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
      Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

      Comment


      • #4
        Too Much Of A Straight Shooter?

        Originally posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
        It can be a tough transition going from the black and white of law enforcement to the world of corporate security. I was able to make the transition successfully, but have come across many who did not. I've even hired a few LE into retail loss prevention and tried to help them make the transition, but was unsuccessful. Most looked down their noses at retail security/loss prevention and we had to part company.

        The secret is to change you attitude and work hard to fit in.
        That is a very good point. I retired at the end of last year from local (city and county) police work. I had worked road patrol, court security, prisoner transport, water patrol, snowmobile patrol, commercial vehicle enforcement, welfare fraud investigation, warrants, and civil process. Also, during that period of time, I worked off-duty for a ski resort, Target, Wal-Mart, and some other gigs I can't recall at the moment. I feel that having the variety made me a better officer (deputy) in what ever task I was doing. For example, when I was in prisoner transport, knowing how the court works from my experience in court security helped me interact with inmates. Even through I hated welfare fraud investigation, the experience I gained there and contacts I made helped me with certain aspects of civil process. I am pretty certain that if I had only worked patrol I would have had a different outlook on certain things.

        The first of this year, three days after retiring, I started a job in corporate security. The pay was not very good, but the fringe benefits were pretty decent. Considering that I was netting more from my pension than I was working, the pay wsn't a compelling issue, but it prompted me to keep looking for better opportunities. If another opportunity a couple of months in han;t popped up, I might still be there.

        That opportunity was hospital security. Not a bad part time gig, the pay was more than the previous corporate gig, and had holidays, nights, and weekends off. As long as I worked an average of 20 hours a week, I received the health insurance benefit. The gig was scheduled to end during the early fall, so it gave me time to keep looking.

        I am now at a place with better pay still, a defined benefit pension, great health insurance, etc.

        The reason I mention these things is because each place has its own culture. I am not saying one is necessarily better, or worse, than another, but certainly different. Sometimes I think being a cop can mean being something of a chameleon. You have to blend in. One of the biggest mistakes many people in police work can make is coming in new and wanting to be an agent of change immediately. Many organizations can be resistant to change. Police organizations probably even more so. Not all police organizations are alike. Not all shifts are alike. Certainly, not all divisions, units, precincts, etc.

        I guess the best I can give is keep your eyes and ears open and try to take in as much as possible. People are trying to size you up just as much as you are trying to size them up. Once you have been there for a while you can kind of figure out just where you fit in. I no that sounds pretty simplistic and like I am pointing out the obvious, but sometimes it bears repeating.

        As an aside, with the issue of former LE coming to loss prevention, if they could have forgotten for a while that they had been cops and just focused on what was expected of them, they may have done okay.

        I know from being a cop sometimes one of the best things to keep in mind is knowing when ot to be "too much of a cop"! It isn't an easy thing for some of us to do!

        Comment


        • #5
          One of the most difficult adjustments for many who "cross the blue line" is the difference in how they are regarded by others in the workplace.

          In recent years - and especially since 9/11 - police, fire and even EMTs have gained a certain amount of respect, and perhaps even a somewhat mythical hero stature, within the social sphere. This is in stark contrast to the common chorus of "Soooey pig!", barnyard noises, and even some hostility among the "intelligentsia" and "social elite", that formed the background of my days on patrol.

          In the corporate world, it's more common for security personnel to find themselves back in the position of the cop in the 1970s - i.e., nearer to the bottom of the social food chain than the top. It's not unusual for the security chief to have to convince the executive that he should be included in C-suite staff meetings, for instance, or that he might have something of value to offer when it comes to the company's strategic planning process. He often has to do battle to keep his security force from being regarded as janitors, and he's always in a fight for budget dollars with people who want the money spent to repaint the lines in the parking lot.

          Today, even the worst policeman can don the uniform and garner a degree of instant respect, at least from a substantial proportion of the populace. But even the best security officer can don his uniform and in many cases will garner instant disrespect in the corporate community or, what may be even worse, disregard - much like one disregards the potted plants in the lobby or the sign over the front door.

          These are not complaints - merely observations. The foremost lesson that a police officer "crossing the line" must learn is that as a security chief he will have to accomplish his goals through persuasion, factually-based budget-minded administration of his department, social influence and the help of allies who have the mojo in the organization. (Corporate mojo is a zero-sum game, and until you got some you ain't got any.)

          The problem with this is that the cop is very likely, due to his background, to regard this reality as "sucking up" to those who occupy the power centers of the organization, and no cop likes to suck up to anyone. It all seems a bit sordid to him, and he might even feel a measure of scorn for the "wimps who expect me to kiss their ass". He is accustomed to using authority as his base of power. Authority was his "big stick", and now he finds that he has no stick - unless he learns HOW to (a) acquire and (b) use very different sticks that do have "heft" in the corporate world.

          And he can't buy these sticks like a cop buys a baton. He has to grow the tree, chop it down and make his own sticks from scratch. This takes time, so he should plant the seeds beginning on his very first day in the job.

          If that's Job One, Job Two is learning the language of business - management, basic accounting and budgeting terminology, etc. In retail, do you know the various means by which inventory is accounted for (FIFO, LIFO, etc.)? If not, how can you understand the loss numbers? In budgeting, do you understand zero-based, activity-based, priority-based and other methods? What method does your organization use? It won't be long before you're going to have to know!

          Job Three is learning a great deal about modern security technology - because the chances are good that your exposure to this domain has been fairly sparse as a cop.

          Fortunately, there are online resources that can help immeasurably with Jobs Two and Three. Rapid courses in accounting, budgeting and other business topics. Courses in CCTV, access control systems, etc. There should also be user manuals available for the systems that are already in place, and in the technology sphere that's often a good place to start because the vendor's representative should be happy to explain terms that might be unfamiliar and provide other useful information.
          Last edited by SecTrainer; 12-11-2011, 06:46 AM.
          "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

          "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

          "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

          "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

          Comment


          • #6
            Its been easy transition for me from janitor and maintenance of a shopping center to security at another shopping center.

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            • #7
              Too Much Of A Straight Shooter?

              Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
              .....One of the most difficult adjustments for many who "cross the blue line" is the difference in how they are regarded by others in the workplace.....
              This is an interesting observation and I agree with it wholeheartedly in my first corporate security job. They are next to the janitors in the pecking order. And, yes, it is all about CCTV, access control systems, alarms, etc. I jumped ship after 2 1/2 months for another security job.

              The new security job was at a major medical center. My assignment was court security in the court room located in the hospital that dealt exclusively with patients that were alleged to be mentally ill and/or chemically dependent. I felt like the security officers there were respected much more by fellow staff than the previous job. Granted, the hospital is a corporation and has a bottom line. There are CCTV, access control systems, alarms, etc. in places, but when staff is moving a patient that is, or has been assaultive, to staff in the past, they do seem to appreciate having a security officer there.

              Comment


              • #8
                A large portion of being a supervisor or a manager obviously is not to blow smoke up your employee's collective asses, but specifically to focus on the improvement and the sustainability of morale. If that means adjusting the way you coordinate with your staff, then that is what you have to do.

                Even if you are a "straight shooter" and you tell it as it is, even if your employees do nothing wrong and just don't see eye to eye, that is not good for morale. It is your position to fix that.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Whether in the retail or corporate setting, one of the most difficult transitions to make is with the non-security employees of the company. It can be an uphill battle to change attitudes and gain the respect. Especially when there has been jackass management before you.
                  Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                  Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

                  Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nauticus View Post
                    A large portion of being a supervisor or a manager obviously is not to blow smoke up your employee's collective asses, but specifically to focus on the improvement and the sustainability of morale. If that means adjusting the way you coordinate with your staff, then that is what you have to do.

                    Even if you are a "straight shooter" and you tell it as it is, even if your employees do nothing wrong and just don't see eye to eye, that is not good for morale. It is your position to fix that.
                    I think this is excellent advice, with one caveat. The nature of our work sometimes requires being pretty "directive" because immediate corrective action is needed and there isn't the luxury of using more gentle, "persuasive" approaches. It doesn't mean you're being a hard-ass, but I don't think there's any way to assure that there won't be some sensitive flowers whose fragile personalities might interpret it that way. The fact is, there are some people who cannot tolerate any form of correction, even if it were hand-delivered with a box of chocolates, and these people very frequently use the "he was mean to me" whine as a means of deflecting the blame back onto the supervisor.

                    As long as one is being objective, fair, and clear about expectations - and isn't introducing a "personal" element into an order or a corrective action (always correct the behavior, not the person) - I don't think it's necessarily profitable to try to please each and every employee's own particular notions about how a supervisor "should talk to me".

                    There is a certain amount of adjustment to the new supervisor that the employees must make; it doesn't all fall on the supervisor to try to adjust his approach to accommodate each and every employee.

                    Be objective, be fair, be clear about expectations, and don't personalize your directives. Most employees will be thrilled to learn that's what they can expect from you, and those who aren't happy about it might not be the best fit for your team. I'm never - or chagrined - when there's a bit of attrition that occurs when a new supervisor or manager comes on board. If a few folks walk, you'd rather it be the high-maintenance people who frankly expect to be coddled or receive "special handling", and not the ones who are all grown up and have mature expectations.

                    P.S. One thing we don't talk about much. Never, ever cuss when you're correcting someone's behavior. (As a leader, it's really better if you try to minimize or eliminate your cussing habit anyway, if you have one. It's not the most useful way for a leader to be "part of the group".)

                    Learn how to strip your message of any angry, belittling or contemptuous emotional content - spoken OR UNSPOKEN. Nothing cuts as deep as a "you pathetic idiot" expression on a supervisor's face, and believe me that people do know when that's what they're looking at - including other employees in the vicinity who may only have a view of what's going on. Supervisors always have "high visual priority" to employees when they move about the workplace, and everything you do is being watched.
                    Last edited by SecTrainer; 12-13-2011, 10:37 AM.
                    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
                      Whether in the retail or corporate setting, one of the most difficult transitions to make is with the non-security employees of the company. It can be an uphill battle to change attitudes and gain the respect. Especially when there has been jackass management before you.
                      You hit the nail on the head right there. When I took over as CSO for the company I am not now it was an uphill battle with the employees in the company.
                      The guy that was here before me did nothing but flirt with the female employees all day, talk about how he got to carry a gun, came in late, left early, etc, etc. And well, he is no longer here.
                      So, I get hired and start to work. The first thing that I noticed was then when a company employee had an issue that should have been handled on the security management level, they skipped me and went to the security staff working in the office. Now, I was happy that they trusted my staff, but was a bit miffed that they skipped past me and went to someone who could not handle the issue at hand because they were not in a place to do so....that meant that most of the time the issue was never addressed (see...I realized that not only did the non security employees see me in the manner as the last CSO, but so did the security staff.) because they did not come to me.
                      Basically, I had to go to the security staff and let them know that management type issues needed to come to me, and when they did, I would go to the employee personally and introduce myself to them, and that I would be addressing their concern/issue. But doing this, I was able to let them see that I was working hard, and serious about my job. It didn't take long for them to see me for who I am, and stop looking at me as who was before me....dealing with my security staff was different, but didn't take long either.
                      So yes, jackass management hurts anyone who follows them, and also hurts the people that work under them. Impressions like that can be tough to get past.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
                        Whether in the retail or corporate setting, one of the most difficult transitions to make is with the non-security employees of the company. It can be an uphill battle to change attitudes and gain the respect. Especially when there has been jackass management before you.
                        You hit the nail on the head right there. When I took over as CSO for the company I am not now it was an uphill battle with the employees in the company.
                        The guy that was here before me did nothing but flirt with the female employees all day, talk about how he got to carry a gun, came in late, left early, etc, etc. And well, he is no longer here.
                        So, I get hired and start to work. The first thing that I noticed was then when a company employee had an issue that should have been handled on the security management level, they skipped me and went to the security staff working in the office. Now, I was happy that they trusted my staff, but was a bit miffed that they skipped past me and went to someone who could not handle the issue at hand because they were not in a place to do so....that meant that most of the time the issue was never addressed (see...I realized that not only did the non security employees see me in the manner as the last CSO, but so did the security staff.) because they did not come to me.
                        Basically, I had to go to the security staff and let them know that management type issues needed to come to me, and when they did, I would go to the employee personally and introduce myself to them, and that I would be addressing their concern/issue. But doing this, I was able to let them see that I was working hard, and serious about my job. It didn't take long for them to see me for who I am, and stop looking at me as who was before me....dealing with my security staff was different, but didn't take long either.
                        So yes, jackass management hurts anyone who follows them, and also hurts the people that work under them. Impressions like that can be tough to get past.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I feel your pain. When I was doing construction I'd get

                          'partnered' with people(usually in a family-centric outfit) where their idea of 'happy workplace' was every yelling about 20 times louder than needed and yelling just as loud right in your ear as if you were 100ft away with a buzz saws and compressors going.

                          Not 'angry' yelling by no means. Very happy, like their kid just scored a touchdown, all day, every day. If I yelled like that for 5 min I'd get a sore throat for sure.

                          And they were big on "everyone working together" with way too many people on a task in too small a space.

                          And if you didn't join in and instead acted like a half normal person they would figure you had a death in the family and didn't want to talk about, and they just could let THAT go without 'helping'.


                          One fine day another crew asked me "how the hell can you put up with them?" and offered me a job, and I transitioned into it.


                          Not sure what to tell you to do in a management position, except "work on it". Maybe ask at a Waitress forum, where a major part of their job is acting happy to everyone.

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                          • #14
                            Again as a former cop I was treated to the same disdain and contempt for my take no BS type attitude. I called it as it was. Their is no lying to me for me or from me.
                            Several times I have been to customers to fix their security issues and had found the problem, notified them what the problem was fixed and tested the fix only to return and find I had been complained about. Once I was too accusative when I found an obvious smash to the cable on an overhead door contact. I looked around for the possible physical evidence of the offending object and found recent concrete dig marks in line with the cable and a piece of metal with concrete still on it. Ahh Ha!
                            I showed the owner what had happened and upon my return was chastised for doing so. WTF? I had apparently stepped on imaginary toes of the culprit that weren't supposed to be stepped upon.


                            This is just one of several instances where my background and no nonsense approach has hurt me. I guess I should have not investigated the cause and let it just be fixed. If I don't smile a cheese eatin grin I get he's too serious. If I slobber all over them I get, He's too unprofessional.

                            Screw it! You get me. My attitude, my jokes, my work ethic, period.
                            You don't like it, your problem.
                            Last edited by LARMGUY; 01-02-2012, 12:01 AM.
                            I tried being reasonable, I didn't like it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RF7126 View Post
                              I was recently made manager of a security department at a mall that I've worked in for several years...

                              I've always been a straight-shooter and was honest and up-front (within the limits of politeness when appropriate of course), but I've never been the super happy, excited to see everyone type of guy...

                              However, I've noticed now that with this position when I am dealing with others who are the "super happy" types, they seem to think that I'm being rude when I am not reacting in kind. I can be completely polite and courteous but if I don't give them the answers they want to hear or I'm at all serious about it I suddenly hear a complaint has been made that I was "rude and unprofessional"...

                              Is this something others have had experience with?

                              This is primarily an issue with people who don't like when I disagree with them or won't give them the information they want.

                              This is primarily an issue with people who don't like when I disagree with them or won't give them the information they want...
                              First off: Congratulations! ... and my condolences (inside joke, for all you security managers )

                              On to your question: Your personality sounds pretty similar to mine. I'm not a back-slapper, either, and in fact, tend to distrust them. Maybe they remind me too much of some used-car salesmen I've known to my later dismay.

                              Anyway, yes, I too have heard comments periodically (some made to my face, and some to others) that I'm either a bit "stand-offish", unfriendly, or even a bit "intimidating" in person. I'm courteous, and happy to visit (within the constraints of time and discretion), but not particularly outgoing, or upbeat in the fashion of, say, the "Up With People" show. As I get to know people better, I tend to be more outgoing, and with the appropriate ones, more outgoing. But I'm never the life of any party.

                              I yam what I yam.

                              It did take my new crew awhile to learn to trust me uniformly, and all the time. For awhile there, it was more of a periodic event than a constant condition. My superiors also were a bit unsure how to take me at first (when I first acquired this position, the facility COO [who I reported past] asked me what my personal rules were for leading my crew. I told him I had two: "Don't F with my family, and don't F with my crew. Other than that, we'll get along fine." It took him a couple of years to say he understood what I'd meant...).

                              With time, they've all come around to trusting me, and being able to work well together... but I'll still never be the life of anyone's party.

                              I think you may have found the key to your question, right here: "...This is primarily an issue with people who don't like when I disagree with them or won't give them the information they want...".

                              Which leads us to my question - is this more of a problem with other management-types (mall management, individual store managers/owners, your own security company's managers, etc), or with individual shoppers and patrons you come in contact with?

                              If this is an issue with other managers, you may need to work on some business communication skills (as I have). As security managers, we're in the position of needing to "sell" our services to other managers, daily. That's a basic requirement of our jobs, and can't be ignored or avoided. And there's truth to the old saw that a little sugar makes the medicine taste sweeter.

                              As you say, we're sort of in the "Bad News" business. A little forethought invested in one's phraseology may just mitigate some of the negative comments from others, and still allow guys like you and me to be who and what we are.

                              So, are these comments from others "normal" for security managers to experience or hear? Yes, I think they probably are fairly common, given our responsibilities as security managers.

                              But, can we do anything about minimizing the comments, or minimizing the effects of our personalities without submerging our own personalities too greatly? Sure, you bet!
                              "I'll defend with my life your right to disagree with me" - anonymous

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