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What Makes a Company ‘Good’?

employee-engagement

This topic may interest you because you are either:

  • Looking to justify your dislike of your current employer with thoughts of:
    • My company is not like this, that must be why I hate going to work
    • This must be why I feel so depressed working here
  • Looking to justify your affection for your current employer with thoughts of:
    • My company is like this, no wonder I enjoy going to work in the morning
    • This must be why I like working here
  • A family member of mine or enjoy reading my blogs

No matter why you are reading this, I appreciate it and thank you!

While talking with others, I constantly hear complaints about the companies they work for. They range from the employer only caring about stats or numbers to managers micromanaging staff. What I do not hear very often are people praising their employer. Why is that?

Many people read about companies like Google who have a fantastic working culture and really look after their staff and then compare it to their employment situation. Maybe it is unfair because Google is such a large and prosperous company, but would it be that difficult for businesses to duplicate some of those philosophies in a smaller capacity?

So what makes a company good? The answer will be different for each person reading this but there are certain things that most admired companies have in common, and the majority of it revolves around their employees.

  • They treat employees like grown-ups
    • They share information with employees, listen to their ideas (or better yet, actively seek out and act upon their ideas) and assume they are responsible enough to manage their own time
  • They treat people fairly
    • They pay people decently and give them excellent benefits including healthcare, paid parental leave
  • They help employees with their careers and understand that not all are built the same
    • They have strong training programs, reimburse tuition for education outside of work, have active, well thought out platforms for mentoring and provide pathways for non-traditional career paths
  • They understand that people have lives outside of work and that these lives might sometimes impinge on (or even take over) their time and attention
    • They realize that allowing for some work-life give and take means not only that they will not waste time and money on unnecessary turnover, but also that they will build loyalty and commitment
  • They see fun, humour, and relaxation as allies not enemies of hard work

A good company is one that works hard to make sure that their employees are a priority. The best way I can sum this up is with the quote below:

chris-blog

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Seminars

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As with most business professionals, I receive several invites for seminars weekly. Unfortunately, I can only make time to attend one workshop per month and need to decide which one. When selecting, I gravitate towards relevance, and if will it help me become a better leader and increase my knowledge base.

Seminars are a great platform to interact with customers, prospects and a wider audience. It gives you an opportunity to step away from your day-to-day challenges and allows for some reflection time. I have attended some excellent informative events where topics such as Duty of Care, Active Shooter Response and Investigations were part of the program.

Panels are a good way to create more interaction with the audience. A question and answer period after each presentation is a must, as without this opportunity people are left with unanswered inquiries. In each seminar, the quality of the message is the most important, not the number of slides. Presenters must be able to convey the message in an enthusiastic way to engage the audience. When they are true experts with a passion for their topic, the audience will be drawn in.

People remember people and will chat during the breaks about what they just learned. Although sometimes seen as less important, the location and set-up are key for a successful event to create the perfect ‘learning environment’.

Overall, attending well-run seminars is a great way to spend your time to keep learning and developing.

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Re-evaluate and Reset

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Time and time again, I hear how a building was broken into, how a retailer got their windows smashed in overnight or is suffering from shrinkage.

In the security industry, this is a bittersweet situation because we know we can be there to provide security services during these times.

Companies need to truly assess – re-evaluate and reset. What is the right procedure – preventative or proactive security? Many industry associations can provide a lot of support in identifying best practices. Reach out and see if any of them have had a risk assessment and what the outcome was. There are industry, brand, and geographical implications to review as well as a corporate security program.

It is a tough one because companies need to weigh the costs of security vs. no security. When there is security, it is difficult to justify the cost when nothing is happening. This becomes a vicious cycle. If you have a security program and are still experiencing theft, maybe it is time to re-evaluate the entire plan. Quality checks in your security program are essential. Most security companies can support and assist you with a quality audit.

Companies have a responsibility to look at industry trends. Are you taking a hit more than your competitors? There are risk assessments that include brand perception that needs to be evaluated along with a holistic security program.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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Nice Guys Finish Last

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Nice guys finish last is a saying you have probably heard many times throughout your life, but is it true? I’d love to know who comes out with these types of sayings.

Recently I was lucky enough to meet former NHL player and 2016 NHL All-Star MVP John Scott in Toronto. He was open, honest and didn’t try to tell me what I wanted to hear or talk himself up. We talked for about 20 minutes about each other’s families and our lives, inside and out of our professions. Even though John was able to move his way up the hockey ranks, he had to deal with many hurdles and fight to overcome them. He told me that he was able to do this by being true to himself, being a nice guy and doing the best he could.

This is similar to the way I like to live. I am an easygoing guy but know when to be firm and to stick to my beliefs. I never want to burn any bridges and have been able to grow strong relationships with co-workers as well as my clients. Recently, I met up with an old colleague for lunch to catch up and see how he was doing. He had found a great new job and wanted to partner with my company for some upcoming jobs. He said that he was comfortable partnering with me because I was a nice guy and we had always worked great together. This was not the first time something like this has happened. I believe that it’s because of the relationships I have made by being an honest and kind person.

Hopefully this is true for other people who are similar to John and myself and proof that nice guys don’t have to finish last.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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Missing a Load?

A truck with a trailer full of avocados from the southern US was expected to arrive in Brampton, Ontario on Saturday. When the trailer did not arrive on time, the receiving party started calling the supply chain partner to find out where the trailer had gone missing. This disrupted the delivery to one of the largest grocery chains, leading to unhappy customers.

Cargo loads go missing on a regular basis, specifically in the corridor between Windsor and Montreal. The missing goods are usually high value, easy to sell electronics, pharmaceuticals, and clothing but in the last decade, we have seen it change to include vegetables, fruit and baby formula to name a few. There seems to be a buyer for every type of product.

The MO varies widely from breaking into a parked trailer to taking a trailer or even the truck and trailer completely. Smashing through a fence of a trailer yard and using a cab to hook up the trailer is a common occurrence. Most often the criminals know what trailer to take as they have acquired inside information.

Another way of getting the wanted product is stealing the cab and trailer when left unattended by the driver. Many trucks are left idling when the driver gets out at a truck stop. The thieves quickly drive to a predetermined location to hook the trailer to another cab and then drive off to a warehouse or a dealer that will buy the stolen goods.

The consequences are serious as thefts can result in a financial and reputational loss. Also disrupting the supply chain may lead to empty shelves. Since a company’s reputation is on the line, there is a high rate of unreported thefts.

Several steps can be taken by the trucking, insurance, and logistic industry to help prevent these types of crimes.

  1. Review of the supply chain security

To secure cargo, supply chain partners should employ a multi-layered approach that incorporates the latest technology and fine-tuned basic practices, such as extensive staff training

  1. Do a site risk assessment

One of the most obvious steps for a company to take is to have a site risk assessment done. Even if the security situation is being assessed by an in-house security professional, a second pair of eyes always seems to lead to increased insight. The findings presented in a report can then be used to improve the security situation to reduce cargo crime.

A proper assessment includes a physical inspection, review of procedures and interviews with management and front line staff. The findings will then be discussed with management and recommendations will be formulated. In most cases, the recommendations consist of physical security enhancements (access control or CCTV), development or update of procedures and training of staff. Making front line staff aware of the risks and teaching them how to act in various circumstances will have a positive effect. Not only will it help reduce theft, but it will also boost morale.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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After a Hard Day’s Work – Go Home Feeling Rejuvenated

The other day, I was chatting with a business associate, and he started talking about his daughter’s internship and how much she was enjoying her job. The company she works for (Happy Melly) helps businesses find happiness in the workplace. I later went to their website, read some of their blogs and listened to a few podcasts. What an interesting concept!

Employers and employees are so caught up in getting the job done, that they lose focus on what is important – enjoying life. Happy Melly shares stories of how people are becoming happier, more engaged and more productive at work.

Here are some thoughts I had that can be shared with all employees in the workplace:

  • Start of the workday quote
  • Mid-day daily joke
  • Half time intermission – e.g. Play some interactive music or play games such as ping pong, air hockey etc.
  • The 7th inning stretch – e.g. Step away from your office for a late afternoon back stretch

Some phrases from Happy Melly’s podcast:

  • Philosophy and leadership are deeply rooted
  • New ways of approaching business are emerging
  • Working together, we can grow both our collective business objective and our individual ones
  • Work at play and play at work
  • The human project is about making businesses more human
  • We are getting serious about happiness
  • Loving your job becomes the new standard and not the exception

Most mission statements are used to communicate the purpose of an organization. I think every organization should have a mission statement with an ending sentence that also includes achieving happiness for all staff.

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Leadership Training

Many of you must have gone through some leadership training during your career. The experience and effectiveness vary wildly. Sometimes lengthy and expensive training does not generate the desired results. If there is no follow up on the initial training, effectiveness is often low. Experience has proven that taking managers through exercises with some theory before and after generates the best results. The exercises are often remembered and contain good learning elements. The outcome varies based on the instruction, the type of training and the motivation of the group.

I recently attended a leadership training session that involved an outdoor snow exercise. The group was divided into teams of five, and each team had an hour to build a quinzhee. A quinzhee is a shelter carved out of a large pile of snow. Each group received an instruction sheet with the requirements. The team that met the most requirements won the challenge. The space inside the quinzhee had to be large enough to house the group of 5 comfortably for the night. The instructor prepared equal sized piles of snow along with shovels, spades, little rakes and buckets.

As the groups went to work, it was interesting to see the different approaches. One team immediately added more snow to the pile and dug an entrance. Another team took their time reading the instructions and discussed the division of tasks and ideas. One group had to deal with conflicts between members and divisions within the team.

As time progressed, team members started glancing at the competition, and some decided to change their approach. After an hour, the results from each group were very different. Some quinzhees were small, not finished, or collapsed. The instructor evaluated each team on 12 requirements.

The lessons learned from the winning teams were:

  • Take the time to read the instructions (but not too long) carefully
  • Ask questions early on to make sure you understand the requirements
  • Accept a clear leadership structure
  • Discuss capabilities and divide tasks accordingly
  • Evaluate progress regularly and compare with competition
  • Tweak approach where and when it makes sense
  • Check on team members and give support when required
  • Boost the morale with motivational cheers
  • Have a determined approach, not aggressive

The exercise was a good learning experience. It provided new insights but more so confirmed what we already knew. The combination of a physical challenge, a visual result, and a discussion afterward, made for a lasting memory. Furthermore, it proved that good leadership, clear strategy, teamwork, sense of urgency, regular reviews and the right culture make a winning team.

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Self-Driving Cars

Last week my son and I sat down to watch the first Transformers movie. He thought it was so cool to see real cars driving themselves, which made me think of how that might become a reality shortly, minus them turning into robots. Currently, only California, Florida, Nevada, Washington D.C. and Michigan allow the testing of self-driving cars. There are many debates on the pros and cons of such vehicles, and both sides have valid points.

A huge benefit of having self-driving cars would be the reduction of vehicle accidents. This technology could also help millions of people who, for various reasons, are unable to drive. In the United States alone there are roughly 5.5 million car crashes per year, which equals out to about one death every 15 minutes or 88 deaths per day. Out of those accidents, 81% were caused by human error. As many of these accidents are preventable, and an alarming number of them are a result of distracted driving, speeding, failing to follow road laws, or driving while tired, drunk, or under the influence of drugs. If these human errors could be removed from the equation, then we could see fewer accidents and vehicle-related deaths. It is estimated that if 10% of cars on the road were self-driving, then there would be 211,000 fewer crashes and 1,100 lives saved. If that number increased to 20%, then there would be 4,220,000 fewer crashes and 21,700 lives saved. Other benefits of self-driving cars include the reduction of time spent commuting, road congestion, and a substantial decrease in insurance premiums.

To get an idea of how self-driving cars could soon be a reality, Google already has high functioning prototypes driving around the Silicon Valley. These vehicles have successfully driven over 3,200,500 km with only 11 minor accidents. Seven involved another vehicle rear-ending the Google car, two were sideswipes, and one involved another vehicle travelling through a red light. This is very impressive after you factor in that the average motorist drives about 25,000 km a year.

There are some downfalls to self-driving cars, one of which is the most dangerous, the security of the vehicle’s software. The possibility of a car being hacked and taken control of is a very serious and concerning issue, especially when there is so much cyber insecurity. This also spirals into the safety of the user’s privacy, as self-driving cars would rely on collecting and sharing location whereabouts and other data. Another problematic issue involves different weather conditions. Heavy rain can interfere with the car’s roof-mounted laser sensor, and snow-covered roads can affect the vehicle’s cameras. Other concerns include the loss of jobs, such as taxi and freight transport drivers.

 

No one knows if there will be more pros than cons if self-driving cars become a reality but for now, we will all just have to wait and see where the road to self-driving cars leads us.

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Do You Have a Case of the (Holiday) Mondays?

monday-blues

You have unwrapped all the presents, cleaned up all the empty champagne bottles and put away the extra bed sheets from the holiday visitors. Now it is time to get back to the grind and pay off those bills. Whether you took a few days or a couple of weeks off during the holidays, it can be hard coming back to work. So how does one get out of the post-holiday slump and back into the swing of things?

Below are some suggestions:

  • Acceptance

Knowing and accepting that it might be hard to get back into daily routines. Prepare yourself for it and have some remedies in mind to get you back on track.

  • Getting out

If you are like me, holiday meals were pretty heavy, and I did not get much exercise. A good way of getting back into the groove is to get your body active and blood pumping. The extra blood flow will increase brain function and help you respond to any situation that might pop up.

  • Change your schedule

Try taking a vacation day here and there to either give yourself a shorter work week (and longer weekends) or a mid-week break.

  • Have fun

This one is easy to say but can be difficult to follow through with. If it is possible, attend a work event that you find fun or interesting. Alternatively, book a vacation, even if it is just for a weekend to get away to do something you enjoy.

I hope these tips help you get back into your pre-holiday routines.

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Post Order Confusion

shutterstock_172646537Everybody in our industry can explain the importance of post orders as a means to clarify roles and responsibilities between parties involved. The most commonly used definition is: Post orders are written documents that clearly outline duties, responsibilities, and expectations of security guards. The client, service provider and security professional fulfilling the role can find out what is expected by looking at the post orders. Often the post orders become extensive and complex. Some sections can be used as a manual in non-urgent situations, while other parts are essential and describe actions that need to be taken in emergencies. To ensure guards know what to do, they should be trained and quizzed regularly. The use of quick reference cards has proven helpful and can also be used as instructions for short term assignments. It is also important to explain the logic behind the procedures. If it makes sense to someone, it is easier to follow and remember.

Even when guards are well trained and know the post orders, they can fail. Specifically in situations when instructions are not fully detailed in the post orders or when it differs from the normal course of action.

On December 19th, 2016, an unexpected tragedy shook the diplomatic world; Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov was assassinated at an art gallery exhibition in front of several TV cameras. Mevlut Mert Altintas, an off-duty police officer, shot him. Although the post orders apparently outlined how to act in a situation like this, the security officers got confused. They should have refused access and inquired with managing authorities before letting the off-duty police officer in. Instead, they were intimidated by the police badge and let him through.

Another example is seen in the film Snowden, when Edward Snowden makes copies of confidential files and exits the CIA building with the files. At the risk of a “spoiler alert” I will refrain from revealing further details, but the post orders were not followed thus leading to an international scandal.

In short, post orders are essential and should be followed to the letter. Training and testing are essential to keep security officers on their toes. Moreover, when in doubt, no access should be given until further verification has been confirmed.

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