Brian Sims

ASIS in the UK - January 2021

Team building and development is the process of turning a group of individual contributing employees into a cohesive unit. A group of people organised to work together to meet the needs of their employer/customer base by accomplishing their purpose and goals. Here, Letitia Emeana outlines what that process looks like in the security arena

NOT ALL of us have the opportunity to formulate and develop our teams from scratch. Nonetheless, the team building process begins with the vision of what a great team would look like. Nurturing the vision of the indicative organisational structure, the numbers, the ideal job roles and job descriptions and then mapping out what you would like your team to be is the key to creating and sustaining high levels of performance. 

Having all of this in place then allows you to become comfortable and creative with your pitch and marketing. Neither needs to be well scripted or professionally created. Rather, it’s all about you knowing how you would wish to move your security team forward.

With this insight comes belief and strength of conviction. Often, this is the very basis for achieving interest in your vision when having chats involving individuals with whom you routinely interact. This is the juncture at which, based on importance and impact/interest, you begin your stakeholder mapping to achieve defined goals.

Communication effort

Next comes the communication effort. Once you know what you want and have crafted an idea of a route towards that status quo – and, in an ideal world, an underpinning timeline – this can help you in targeting precisely whose support you wish to garner and why. Obvious needs are resource and budget, but the less obvious ones are those of your potential stakeholders.

If your stakeholders know that you can help, support and guide them – and, what’s more, be of general assistance to them – their influence will help smooth the path of travel when delivering on the aims set out for your team.

It’s so very important to routinely reach out to stakeholders rather than wait for them to shout. The latter scenario is often a sign that you’ve missed out on a proactive opportunity. Those quick 15-minute touch calls to see what’s new and just chat through matters of importance can often yield ‘horizon issues’ and allow you to address them, while at the same time showing the value that true partnership working can bring.

With any project or idea, it’s strongly recommended to use the above blueprint (or similar) for listing, on an individual basis, the teams and people you have around you and assign them a place within your planning. Subsequently, this will assist you in terms of time and focus.

Fuelling the business

At least in part, your security team is the oil that fuels the business. As stated, though, it may have been created and shaped before responsibility for it was placed under your charge. A team shaped by past experiences, management, visions and working practices.

If that is indeed the situation, how can you transition your team and its constituent members towards a new and/or different way of working? Never lose sight of the fact that it’s those team members who, ultimately and collectively, will know best in most situations. 

Having knowledge of – and belief in – your team will allow you to navigate your path as the manager of those individuals within, understanding the skills and experiences each member can bring to the table. Once there’s an understanding of the team and its resident skills, knowledge and experience, it then becomes far easier to identify any gaps. 

Those gaps may already be known to the team members. Asking them how to reduce the gaps may provide insight as to how much engagement they want and need as individuals and as a collective. It may be that your team has the skills, but these skills are not being used as yet. It may be that someone would like to develop in a certain area. It may be that a true gap exists and resource would be needed to plug that hole.

Pipeline talent

Sharing the findings of discussions with your team members and providing constant communication with stakeholders can also produce pipeline talent and, possibly, unearth ways in which to reduce any shortfall in delivery. Pipeline talent is critical for specialist teams.

Professional knowledge and understanding of the security specialism is a major component. The specific cultural piece, team dynamics and corporate knowledge that comes with time served in a business should never be underestimated. The initial 18 months or so is often the hardest period for new external recruits as they navigate the complexities of the organisational structures, internal politics and corporate cultural expectations.

Once a strong basis is in place for the security team, the key to maintaining and sustaining it is the management of regular and transparent communications, equitable and equal empowerment, trust, recognition and, of course, a degree of compassion. 

One truism the global pandemic has highlighted is that teams built for success do succeed. Management styles that oibserve a transparent and agile approach wrapped up in compassion and understanding bring those teams working across functions and navigating new paths together, duly forging new partnerships and improved efficiencies. 

That will only happen when your security team feels part of the business, wholly integrated with the business and valued by the business, all of which begins with the vision of the team you create.

Letitia Emeana CPP PSP CISMP is Chair of ASIS International’s UK Chapter

letitia emenana
letitia emenana
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ASIS International UK Chapter

PO Box 208
Princes Risborough

08000 502208

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