Participatory Leadership

Article excerpt

Workplace violence and employee theft are just two of the problems faced by security professionals. To tackle these and other problems more effectively, security departments should consider adopting an interactive security philosophy.

Such a shift may be difficult for managers. However, by using the interactive security and safety management concept, or system, the security manager can merge the two functions without disruption in service. The system combines teamwork, Total Quality Management (TQM), and common sense, to make the workplace a safer place for employees and patients.

This interactive approach, when viewed as a whole, involves all personnel: management, supervisors, and work force personnel from inside and outside the security and safety department.

As financial restraints tighten and the proliferation of safety and health standards continues, the need for such a comprehensive approach to security and safety is clear. To compete for financial resources, security managers must develop the participatory leadership principles of TQM in educating personnel and implementing and evaluating an interactive security and safety system.

Education and training. Basic to the formation of the interactive security and safety management model is the education of management and supervisory personnel in their role of providing a safe and secure environment.

Security managers should educate the corporation's senior decision makers through documentation of current problems. Statistical models should be developed to show management the challenges that exist, how they are generated, and the plans necessary to defeat them. For example, if the company is experiencing problems with theft, the security manager should evaluate the problem, using statistics to show how often theft occurs, where it is concentrated, and whether it is increasing.

By studying the profile of company losses, security directors can pinpoint vulnerabilities and causes and work to reduce them. If a target is vulnerable to petty theft, major theft may be next. Slips and falls may indicate the potential for a serious accident in that specific spot or involving a particular person.

Policies and procedures. Security managers should invite employee participation in formulating policies and procedures to ensure that solutions will be practical. To be acceptable, policies must be practical. Work force involvement helps to define those procedures that will be acceptable and possible. Employee participation is necessary to attain organizational goals.

Management styles. Policies dictated from the top of the management hierarchy often fail, because senior managers tend to react to a situation before conducting an analysis. For example, after a shooting in an emergency room, hospital management might react strongly by moving security officers from other departments in the hospital to the emergency room. This simply relocates the problem; it does not solve it. The area losing guard patrols may be made more vulnerable.

A proactive stance would involve looking at all existing policies before deciding which policy fits both security and personnel needs. Does hardening the target make jobs harder for emergency room personnel? Is it more difficult to enter and exit the facility? With employee input, a better solution might be chosen; for example, a sign-in procedure for patients and visitors, a more comprehensive ID system, or additional training.

Restraint filter. When developing policies and procedures, management cannot ignore the environment in which the security department exists. The community, work force, government, environment, and even past company experiences all play a role in framing policies. In the interactive model, security directors run this multi-faceted environment through a technical and financial restraint filter. …