Magazine article Security Management

Heading in a New Direction

Magazine article Security Management

Heading in a New Direction

Article excerpt

CompUSA found that three heads are better than one when it changed from having one in-store security manager to having three nonsecurity managers handle those issues.

Two years ago, corporate security at CompUSA decided to restructure its loss prevention department, giving the bulk of its in-store loss prevention duties to a group of nontraditional security employees. The results have been impressive.

The company has a corporate security management team, a cadre of 20 regional loss prevention managers who oversee approximately stores each. Before security was reorganized, one additional loss prevention manager was assigned to each store. The individual store loss prevention managers were responsible for overseeing the entire store security program, from access control to shoplifting. They were also charged with ensuring that all workers took responsibility for issues such as shrinkage and shoplifting.

Senior executives were unhappy with the program because losses were too high in general, primarily due to poor inventory control in some stores. Moreover, at stores with the least effective managers, losses were on the rise.

The problem was exacerbated by poor relationships that had developed in some stores between the loss prevention manager and the staff, who felt that they were viewed with suspicion by security. This lack of trust made employees less likely to report security incidents to the loss prevention manager, making security's job more difficult.

To improve security across the board, management decided to eliminate the store loss prevention job. In stead, regional loss prevention managers (including the author) were given the task of instructing three nonsecurity managers in each store to take over the security function. The rationale behind the move was to create better relations between employees and security while also reducing losses. The new organization helped alleviate the problems discussed above by tripling security efforts at the store level.

To help eliminate conflict between staff members and the new loss prevention team, corporate security urged the new managers to communicate the new program's goals to employees. The method of communication was at the discretion of each team. For example, some teams held a series of meetings to explain the reorganization to employees. In these meetings, emphasis was placed on elevating security issues to that of other concerns of the store such as sales and customer service. Managers stressed that communication under the new system would be two-way. This helped the transition move more smoothly. Also, most of the relationships between staff and managers were long established. This helped abolish the "us against them" perception that reigned under the old system.

Following is a discussion of the new security structure, including the roles of individual managers, security standards, and communication issues.

ROLES. The nontraditional loss prevention teams consist of three individuals at each store location--the general manager, the operations manager, and the inventory-control coordinator, who is also a manager. These individuals form the backbone of the store's loss prevention program.

The regional loss prevention manager is available as a resource and can be contacted at any time. The regional loss prevention manager also conducts periodic audits to ensure that security procedures are being followed.

General manager. The general manager is responsible for making sure the store's loss prevention programs are active, monitored, and in step with the standards set forth in the company guidelines. For example, it is the general manager's duty to discuss with staff various loss prevention issues, such as shoplifting and electronic article surveillance systems. These discussions usually occur during daily store meetings, in weekly management staff meetings, and during one-on-one communication with employees throughout the store. …

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