Q: My security team and I have so much to offer our company, but I can’t seem to get my management to give me the opportunity to show what we can bring to the table. Any ideas or advice on how to advance my security program beyond “guards and gates?”
A: First, let me say if it’s guards and gates they want, then be sure to deliver beyond expectations. All too often, in the hurry to get a chair at the big table it is forgotten why one may have been hired in the first place. While it may not be perceived to be as glamorous as some of the other components of a successful corporate security program, do not minimize the importance of a solid program foundation and how guards and gates not only support the efforts of those more glamorous components but are often the pillars that hold everything up.
Consider these questions. Who in your security organization interfaces with your employee population more than your guard’s? What more than gates, fences and doors form the first line of defense to your facilities, assets and personnel? Who operates all those glamorous high tech Security Operations Centers? Who responds to emergency and life threatening situations? Who responds to the request for assistance when the office door won’t work? Who is there when that long dark walk to the car is made a little easier with a friendly escort? Who is often the first person a visitor or a perspective client interacts with upon arrival, providing that everlasting initial impression? Who helps the lost child when he or she can’t remember what floor dad’s office is on during “bring your child to work day?" What or who keeps the bad guys out when the local police have issued a locked down order? The list goes on and if it doesn’t, it should. Talk about opportunities to show what you and your team have to offer.
So, how do you get “past guards and gates"? Foremost, ensure you and your company are ready to move beyond guards and gates. If so, make sure you have established a strong foundation from which to build upon and then use that foundation to bring those “much more” offerings to the table. Show how the existing security program foundation is ready to offer more to the overall success of the company and its people. Show how you can leverage your existing activities, programs and resources to align with and support company goals and objectives. Show how you and your proven team can (and probably already do) support numerous risk mitigation efforts around brand, ethics, human capital, legal, business continuity, due diligence, compliance, crisis management, data protection and physical security.
You can get the ball rolling by ensuring you understand why you are there and delivering on it day in and day out. By meeting and exceeding the expectations of those you and your staff support and interface with every day. By making the best of guards and gates and moving it beyond the stereotype. By educating management to the added value that security can bring. Soon your efforts will be recognized and not only will the opportunity arise to show what more you can bring to the table, but maybe even an invite to bring it.
Answer provided by Ken Kasten, Security Executive Council Emeritus Faculty member.
Editor’s Note: The SEC has numerous articles and resources that can assist the security professional in developing and presenting a value add proposition to company management. See:
The Nine Practices of the Successful Security Leader
Running Security Like a Business
Is the Knowledge Transfer Gap Hurting Security?
Like Risk, Security Leadership Success is a Moving Target
Managing Enterprise-Wide Board Risk