Emotional intelligence (EI) can easily be thought of as too sensitive and “mushy-gushy” - especially in the physical security industry. But when you take a closer look, it’s clear that having high emotional intelligence can have a positive impact in your security guard company.
This article will cover the basics of emotional intelligence and why it matters for physical security operations.
- What is Emotional Intelligence?
- 3 Benefits of Emotional Intelligence Training
- Next Steps to Take
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Before looking at what emotional intelligence can do for your operation, it’s important to understand what it is and why it’s important.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of other people. Everyone gets happy, mad, or excited. Emotions and feelings change all the time, and people act on those feelings. Identifying and managing emotions means a person is able to make smarter and better decisions.
Emotional intelligence can be broken down into four categories:
- Self Awareness - The basis for all emotional intelligence; being aware of your own emotions. People with high self awareness are more likely to “trust their gut.”
- Self Management - People who are in tune with their own emotions can better understand and manage them. Good self management means better self-control.
- Social Awareness - Like self awareness, social awareness deals with being aware of other people’s emotions. This can be very important in security situations that have potential to escalate.
- Relationship Management - These are skills that all of your security supervisors have to know. Better managing relationships means better run teams.
Each of these four categories include character traits like self-confidence, adaptability, self-control, empathy, and teamwork that are all important for increased emotional intelligence. The soft skills in these four categories are guaranteed to produce better, higher-performing guards and supervisors in your security operation.
3 Benefits of Emotional Intelligence Training
Just like putting security officers through physical training programs, training for emotional intelligence and soft skills will give them the resources they need to become better at their jobs which increases the value your security services provide to clients
Here are 3 direct benefits to investing in emotional intelligence training in your operation.
1. Improved Client Relationships
One of the most important aspects of client relationships is communication. Emotional intelligence helps you and your guards communicate with clients more effectively.
Every client has different needs and preferences with how they would like to be talked to. Some clients want to hear about how you are conducting routine security checks on their property. But many don’t.
A lot of clients like to know how security officers are trained to interact with people on their property or handle a potentially dangerous situation. Making sure both you and your officers are well-trained in social awareness and relationship management will make you more prepared in these conversations.
When you are starting a relationship with a new client, it is important to ask them what their wants, needs, and concerns are. Keeping emotional intelligence in mind will help those initial conversations be more effective.
But once you have established a strong relationship using emotional intelligence, clients will trust your expertise and feel more comfortable working with you and your security officers. What’s even better, this can lead to more security contracts through referrals from your clients who have grown to trust you.
2. Challenging Unconscious Biases
Unconscious biases are established attitudes, stereotypes, and beliefs that people attribute to another person or group that affects their opinions of and interactions with that person or group.
This is a normal process in the brain. It helps people make faster decisions and assign things into neat groups. But just because the process is normal doesn’t mean it isn’t flawed.
There are many different types of unconscious bias, but confirmation bias has a big impact in the physical security industry. Confirmation bias is when you look for any evidence to support an initial feeling you have about a person or situation.
Say a new security officer arrives late on their first day which leads you to assume the person is lazy and lacks discipline. Your brain wants to be right about that assumption and will try to make everything else that officer does fit the lazy and undisciplined label - even if it’s not true.
On the other hand, if a security officer always speaks respectfully, has a clean uniform, and displays a positive attitude, you are much more likely to think of them as a professional who cares about their job and look for things that reinforce that thought.
When your clients interact with your officers, you want them to have that second set of thoughts. They will think more positively about your security services because they think positive things when they interact with your guards. To do that, you need to establish a standard of excellence and professionalism with your officers.
One effective way to do that is to show your officers how to make a great first impression. When they meet a new client or new people on a client’s property, your officers should be undeniably professional. They should have clean uniforms, smile a lot, and work hard to be polite. By calling your officers to this higher standard, you will change the negative idea people have about security to a positive one.
3. Increased Officer Retention
Emotional intelligence doesn’t just help improve the reputation of your security officers and your relationship with clients. It can also help improve the relationship between you and your officers.
Just by providing your officers with resources and training to improve their emotional intelligence - making them more effective at their jobs - it shows them that you are willing to invest in their personal and professional development, not just their security-related skills.
When employees feel invested in by their employer it increases retention - benefiting you in a few ways. One, higher retention means lower turnover, which means less recruiting/hiring/on-boarding costs. Making the right investments into emotional intelligence training can actually save you money.
Two, having employees who are more emotionally aware and more likely to stick around means building a strong company culture is that much easier. If you’re lacking company culture, it starts with you and your supervisor core. But, once it’s been established, it will grow stronger and stronger as security officers stay with you longer.
Last, increased emotional intelligence in your security teams is appealing to potential clients. You will start winning more contracts when property owners see that you do more than lock doors and confront trespassers.
Now that you have a basic understanding of emotional intelligence and why it’s so necessary to physical security operations, it’s time to implement it in your company. Professional emotional intelligence training is the most effective way to get your entire organization trained properly.
To learn more, check out this webinar with Steve Donofrio on emotional intelligence and other soft skills that can make better security teams.