A SECURITY GUARD is often the first person a visitor encounters when entering a facility. For that reason, it is important that guards are well-trained and motivated to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. To consistently train guards to do the best job they can, I developed an evaluation program for use where I work—Escuela Campo Alegre, an international English language school in Caracas, Venezuela—to measure a guard’s performance in a variety of categories.
Guards who consistently rank highly in the evaluation are rewarded. The process, which I have used successfully for five years, has enhanced both the professionalism and the work ethic of the guards who serve in my facility. It could be adapted to help other organizations.
Ten security guards secure Escuela Campo Alegre. These officers are contract personnel, but the school is responsible for their training and supervision. The security guard company cannot transfer, fire, demote, or promote any guard without the permission of the school’s security team. The same sort of evaluation could also be used for proprietary guards.
The first part of the process was to develop individual categories that would be covered by the evaluation. The next step was to develop a scoring process and the rewards portion of the program.
The categories are designed to give guards concrete information about their performance and illuminate any areas that require improvement.
I have found that the following eight categories give the best indication of performance.
Reports. Considering that the security manager makes important decisions based on the information provided by guards in their reports, the accuracy of these reports is crucial. Each guard is evaluated on his or her ability to take notes in an effective manner and transcribe those notes into a clear, understandable report. Several years ago, we replaced manual reports with computerized files. Therefore, guards are also evaluated on their computer skills.
Procedures. Guards must be proficient in a facility’s security procedures. The security manager evaluates each guard on his or her knowledge of the procedures and on how well procedures are followed in various situations.
For this part of the evaluation, guards are quizzed on various procedures including entrance and exit controls, use of radios, patrol techniques, CCTV protocols, and traffic and parking rules.
Knowledge. Guards must be familiar with the physical layout of the installation. For the evaluation, guards must recite and explain the emergency plans, operational procedures, and services verification list. The guard must also be able to guide a visitor through the facility. Guards must know where to find a fire extinguisher and the emergency exits as well as the central fire alarm, water pump, electrical panel, and emergency phone numbers. This knowledge is measured by going over a checklist with each guard or by giving a written test. In addition, guards are expected to know staff members. Guards are given a group of staff photos and asked to identify them by last name and department.
Appearance. In general, the best security guards care about their appearance and present themselves in a professional way. The uniform is part of the evaluation and is considered part of the equipment that guards require to perform their job appropriately.
Cleanliness. This category refers both to personal hygiene and to how the officer maintains his or her office space. In the evaluation, supervisors look to see if guards have immediate access to equipment, reports, and any other necessary items. They also determine whether the office is clean and organized.
Attitude. A positive attitude is an indispensable element in the behavior of a guard; therefore, it is a necessary part of the evaluation process. Supervisors are asked to measure the attitude of each guard during each shift. For example, supervisors note a guard’s opinion of others, sense of responsibility, and ability to accept criticism. Other factors that may come into play are whether a guard is prone to complaining and whether he or she can admit mistakes.
Public relations. In our facility, each guard acts as a public relations representative. To determine whether guards are representing our organization in a desirable manner, the evaluation contains a section on public relations. This category measures cooperation, the ability to work as a team, the discreet enforcement of authority, and self-control.
Dedication. To evaluate the dedication of a guard, we measure punctuality, project completion, and attention to daily tasks.
Guards are evaluated individually and as a team for each shift they work. A supervisor must conduct the appraisal with each guard and team. To give some structure to the evaluation, we devised a checklist and scoring method.
Each category is given a numeric value. For an “excellent” performance a guard is given four points. A “very good” rating is three points and a “good” valuation merits two points. One point denotes a “regular” rating, and if a guard is deficient, no points are given.
The evaluation format clearly lays out how the points are earned for each category. For example, to obtain the four maximum points for appearance, the manager can give the guard one point for a clean and pressed shirt, one point for clean and pressed slacks, one point for a clean and pressed tie, and one point for clean and shined shoes. Supervisors are encouraged to use common sense in scoring. For example, if the guard is wearing a clean shirt, but it is not ironed, that would affect the rating.
A guard can receive a maximum of 100 points. At the end of the evaluation, a supervisor can note general observations and indicate whether the guard has committed to improving his or her performance. The evaluation form contains a box that explains the meaning of the total points. If a guard obtains 100 points, he or she is rated “excellent.” A “very good” rating is between 80 and 99 points. To garner a “good” evaluation, a guard must earn between 60 and 79 points. A “regular” rating is 40 to 59 points, and anything 39 points or lower is considered “deficient.”
The company provides rewards to the guards each month. The gifts vary and are determined by the security supervisors. The reward can be as simple as a recognition certificate or a plaque honoring the guard of the month. Management might add a financial bonus or gift certificate. The highest reward, given out only for outstanding conduct, is a promotion.
The evaluation program has helped create a good working environment, which has led to extremely low turnover. Six guards out of 10 have more than five years of continuous service. Three guards have three years and the last one has two. Any organization could use a similar evaluation and rewards program to improve performance and morale.
Guillermo Guevara Penso is security manager at Escuela Campo Alegre in Caracas, Venezuela. He has more than 30 years of experience in the security field.