Q. It has been announced that security will report to a new boss within a month. Although this is an internal promotion, I have not worked closely with this person in the past. My relationship with my previous boss was excellent. Can you recommend some successful strategies for getting my new executive management to be supportive of the security function?
A. Our research shows that a change of boss is one of the top reasons that security leaders lose their jobs (for example, see this Security Barometer). Getting to know each other and establishing a relationship based on mutual respect is a process that will occur over time, so my first advice is to not push it by trying too hard out the gate. Take the time to do your research and learn as much as you can about your new boss. Request a face-to-face meeting where you both have an opportunity to get to know each other and gain an understanding of each other’s vision and talk about department goals and strategies. You will want to know certain things about his management style. For instance, does he prefer to communicate in writing, by phone or in person? Is he detail oriented wanting to know specific details or does he prefer a brief overview? Questions like these.
You can almost surely expect change. State your vision and directional goals and make it obvious that you are open to discuss constructive feedback. Be prepared to explain and justify, if necessary, current and/or anticipated staffing needs.Make sure that he understands and gets comfortable with your level of experience and ability to handle issues. Plan to talk about how you see security fitting into the corporate culture and your plan to ensure convergence with the rest of the company’s risk management strategy. Also, be sure to let him know that you are well versed in the issues and laws surrounding compliance.
Keep in mind that your new boss is the new kid on the block and may have zero experience with or knowledge about the security function so take this opportunity to educate and influence him. Now may be the time to use those soft salesmanship skills. Be prepared to give a brief overview and explain the current state of your security organization. Discuss your view of the direction you would like to see and why.Answer provided by Bob Hayes, Managing Director, Security Executive Council.