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Officer engagement

Brendan Musgrove, pictured, Managing Director of the contractor Cordant Security, writes on the importance of officer engagement in security.

What is employee engagement? Is it just happiness at work? Not really. You can be happy at work and not be productive. You might spend your working days trawling Twitter or finish early everyday and head to the pub. That might make you really happy but you wouldn’t be the most engaged employee.

Employee engagement is much more than that. It’s about an employee being as committed to their organisation and its goals as they can be. This is crucial when providing an effective security service. In many manned guarding contracts we are relying on officers being able and willing to deliver exceptional service with minimal direct supervision.

Introducing training and development for our officers is important; though this is for nothing if the officer does not have the motivation to deploy their skills in action. We all know a primary aspect of motivation is engagement. Many will talk of organisational engagement and culture but I would argue there is a more fundamental element that needs addressing before moving onto these bigger issues. The most effective way to promote officer engagement is through the relationship between the officer and their direct line manager. So how do you ensure this relationship is fostered?

Create time.

If a manager is focused on internal matters such as admin there is simply no time for officer engagement. At Cordant we aim to offload admin heavy tasks such as scheduling and recruitment to central functions. Where admin related tasks remain, we have aimed to streamline through the introduction of iPads and apps.

Ensure management are well trained

Managers need to be confident and capable in interacting with a wide range of individuals. At Cordant we have a number of training initiatives to upskill our management teams, one being Cordant STAMP, a two year intensive development program that teaches advanced management skills.

Give structure and focus

This is to make interactions between the officer and their manager meaningful. It is useful to have a basic structure and content. Of course we need to add space for managers to apply their own personality and prevent this being a simple tick list, but some baseline content ensures a minimum standard. In Cordant we use apps such that we can dynamically change the content of officer 1-2-1s based on real time events. We gather data on officer feedback and make appropriate changes to keep improving these interactions.

Create an open communication channel

Officers need a place where they can give feedback on their experience working with us. Its important that we get good honest feedback from officers about what they enjoy about the job and what they find challenging.

At Cordant we have started to host Officer Forums around the country were officers are invited to come and speak freely about a range of topics with management teams. These forums give us an insight into what works well and what doesn’t for each officer; directly engaging officers in real, company changing initiatives.

There are other elements, but we see these as the main pillars. Once these are in place and the officer is engaged with their line manager we can then introduce other elements to give a wider organisational level of engagement. But that is a whole different article.


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