Security Manager, more than just a job title!

By Michael O’Sullivan – Features Editor TPSO Magazine

I recently saw an advertisement for a security manager posted on a job board, next to ads to recruit security officers. The renumeration for the officers offered a better hourly rate than that proposed for the ‘managers’ position. Not exactly confidence inspiring.

Out of curiosity I inquired what the ‘managers’ role entailed? There was nothing in the job description I was given that I wouldn’t do anyway as part of my job as a team member. Stripping the title ‘manager’ out and comparing job descriptions, there were team members jobs being offered on the same job board that involved less work, and hours, for more money!

Seriously? Given the choice which would you chose?

I worked for the same company as a guy who was very proud of his ‘Security Manager’ job title. His business cards were printed on the best quality embossed card that he could get the client company to pay for. In return for the job title he was expected to manage the site roster, deal with holiday requests, pay queries, arrange cover for unexpected absences and stand in for lunch breaks. All for the same hourly rate as the team members that he ‘managed’.

The history behind his promotion to ‘Security Manager’ was interesting. When the previous SM retired he was longest serving team member and automatically stepped into the role, a system known as dead man’s shoes!

He did work hard and was conscientious and well liked by his colleagues. They got their holidays booked in timely fashion, got their shifts covered if they needed a day off, pay queries were dealt with promptly etc. In all fairness the employer in question did look after their security team, hence the ability to retain staff, for decades in some cases.

Would a more suitable description for the position have been security supervisor?  I’m not even sure we should stretch to that, I’ve worked in supervisors’ roles with a lot more responsibility than outlined above. Security officer/admin perhaps?

The building manager where my ‘security manager’ colleague above worked once told me that their policy was to call the police if there were any serious issues that ‘the team couldn’t handle’.

No disrespect to the police but when seconds count, they are usually at least a few minutes away!

Good security is like first aid, it’s all about finding oneself on the scene first and keeping the patient alive till the experts get there.

Falling back on calling the police is fine as long as there are plans in place to cope during the time it takes them to arrive. In the event of a serious incident those few minutes could be crucial!

To my mind a security manager should be someone very capable of managing the security challenges facing their employer. It should also be someone with the experience, training and knowledge to do just that. I realise that this is a broad canvass! An employer with a very good understanding of the challenges their business faces and the realities involved in dealing with them will have a clear understanding of the kind of security manager that they need to recruit.

Compare that to the employer who looks for ‘security manager’ on a CV and assumes that they will know what they are doing?

I’ve lost count of the number of people who fell for the old ‘it’ll look good on your CV ploy’ and ended up working themselves into early burnout in roles for which they were ill prepared!

I still remember one interview where I asked the client for a list of their top 10 security challenges, and they couldn’t tell me? Needless to say I politely declined an invitation to a second interview.

In my 30 years in the industry I’ve come across a lot of this kind of thing – that it still happens today in 2019 is quite frankly difficult for me to understand.

So, Security Manager, more than just a job title? You bethca!

If you are serious about a career in security management check out our new monthly newsletter ‘Your career in security’, launching at the end of May 2019 on the TPSO website: