photo by Alex Proimos
For security personnel, looking professional and knowing how to perform in the field go hand-in-hand.
by William McGuire, President & CEO, Global Elite Group
When teams of agents are deployed on assignments, from a corporate event to a personal VIP assignment for a foreign dignitary, the most important question to ask is: Does the experience of the agent match the assignment?
The vetting process for each assignment begins with the goals of the project, and understanding a client’s security expectations. On the day the assignment begins, when the agents show up, that level of expertise should also shine through via the agents’ presentation — good grooming and a neat and clean uniform go a long way toward instilling immediate confidence.
In the restaurant industry, a sloppy, dirty look is unacceptable. Patrons would assume that the meal would have the same level of care put into it. You wouldn’t eat there.
The same is true of a security company that doesn’t take pride in the look of the agents; the attention to detail could be reflective of the protection services being provided.
The stereotype of an out-of-shape man sitting in a room watching a monitor while half-sleeping or fully asleep has changed. With shrinking police department budgets and greater security presence needed (because corporations are being targeted and extremists are carrying out attacks on civilians), the need for in-person professional security personnel is very real.
A Growth Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the security-guard industry is expected to grow 12 percent annually through 2022. Part of this growth can be attributed to the need for a manned presence when a security situation arises in a retail setting. It takes an in-person agent to provide property patrols and manage access control systems for buildings and facilities.
These are important jobs that keep the public safer. And, as we’ve seen in recent news, soft targets (such as movie theaters and malls) need an expert security guard on the premises, not a surveillance camera or a minimum-wage employee snoozing at a bank of TV screens.
The security guard field relies heavily on training and experience in personal protection. Security guards are required to interact with people, handle crowds, assess situations and react quickly. Their demeanor and personality are important, as they need to handle a range of situations with control and good judgment.
A clean-cut appearance and fit physique plays well in visual professionalism but also conveys control over the situation. A crisp uniform and strong physical appearance says, “here’s a person to depend on and look to, should a situation arise.” In an emergency, there’s great comfort in a good presentation, backed by experience, when all details from the ground up are covered.
Furthermore, security guard services have changed; guards today need to be well versed in law enforcement procedures, military maneuverers, marshal arts training, and should ideally possess bilingual skills.
A professional team of security guards should go through a meticulous hiring process that includes background checks and even (depending on the range of assignments) testing applicants’ physical and mental stamina. There could come a time when an assignment may not end for days. In such a case, is this person up to the task, physically and mentally?
Agents must have the ability to use their endurance and survival skills training. They may need to stand guard over a facility during and after a hurricane, for instance. They should be able think on their feet and help others who may not be part of the assignment but are in need of assistance — especially important when on duty after a disaster.
Not all assignments are cut-and-dried within a limited time frame. Sometimes, guard services are called upon when law enforcement is busy handling an emergency. A guard service could — in situations of public unrest after a natural disaster such as a tornado, earthquake, or hurricane, for example — need to remain in place for days, weeks, or months. In New York City during Occupy Wall Street, guard services for corporations were needed around the clock for months to escort employees in and out of the area.
Representing the Brand (and Other Practicalities)
A professional team of security guards can also burnish a security company’s brand. Clients will associate the company’s appearance with professionalism and the ability to handle themselves in any situation.
When purchasing uniforms, keep in mind seasonal concerns and the environment in which the clothing will be worn. Stretch material allows for greater freedom of movement, and a mixture of athletic or performance materials will add comfort.
When it comes to professionalism, relying solely on a clean uniform is a mistake. The look is only the beginning.
Security guards stand for long periods, so footwear is extremely important to reduce fatigue and injury. Placement of logo and size are important and serve as a means of advertising and guard recognition — make sure it is large enough to see.
However, when it comes to professionalism, relying solely on a clean uniform is a mistake. The look is only the beginning. Security is an evolving process — crime and security risks change constantly. This requires that field agents and guards be tested, challenged, and analyzed periodically, to probe for gaps in security and readiness.
The growth outlook for security professionals is positive, as guards are needed to operate the latest technology that can be used to complement the protection services being offered. In-person guard services are part of the security team and interact with IT professionals in many industries.
About the Author:
William McGuire is president and CEO of New York-based Global Elite Group, which specializes in executive protection, emergency management and special operations services to all facets of industry. With offices throughout the world, Global Elite has four divisions, focused on physical security services, emergency management, security consulting and aviation management.