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Ensuring the Survival of New Security Managers

Of all the problems that retail security directors have in common, perhaps there is none more frustrating than the loss of a good security manager. All too often we recruit or promote talented, capable candidates,only to see them leave in six months to a year. The considerable money, time, and resources we spend in this effort,and the impact of having a key security position open, demand that we solve this problem as quickly as possible.

At Macy’s East, we have reduced our security executive turnover from 55 percent in 1998 to 10 percent in 2001,and we now fill 92 percent of our security executive positions from within, versus 45 percent in 1998. This improvement is no accident. It took innovation, hard work, and, most importantly, a plan.

The Obstacles Faced

In 1990, Macy’s recruiters were seeing about 60 applicants at job fairs. By 2000, they were averaging no more than 20. Although the recent layoffs associated with the recession have increased the numbers of candidates at job fairs, this is probably a temporary situation. We still believe pre-recession projections that there will be upwards of 10 million unfilled jobs in the service industries by 2010. This drives up the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training new security managers.

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According to the Employment Management Association, in 1990 it cost on average a little over $5,000 to recruit, hire, and train an executive. In 2001, the cost per hire was $10,500 and rising. These are factored costs, which include such things as advertising, candidate travel for interviews, employee referral awards, recruiting fees, recruiter salaries, management interview time, relocation costs, and sign-on bonuses. Adding to that is the immeasurable cost of having an important position unfilled for any length of time. At Macy’s in 1999, we averaged 26 days to fill each open security manager position.

Another major obstacle is turnover, both with long-service managers and some newer managers. Some of the turn is attributable to recruiting by the competition. And, some of our newer security managers, no doubt, left because they were totally overwhelmed with the way we do things here at Macy’s. All companies are different, and learning a new company culture can be daunting. Add to that the fact that what we do in Macy’s security today is vastly different and more complex than what we did only a few years ago, and there is little wonder why some managers, whether new to the company or promoted from within, find the challenges too difficult.

There’s one more consideration, and that’s the way we used to make a person a “security manager.” I am sure many current and former security mangers will relate to this. The way we at Macy’s used to make a person a security manager was simply to proclaim it. Whether you were promoted into the position or brought in from the outside, all of a sudden one day you found yourself occupying the security manager’s chair, and people expected you to be a “security manager.” The sharper–and luckier–ones would squeak by while they struggled to pick up the essentials of the job via the hard school of on-the-job training. And, yes, some security managers survived and actually developed into productive managers. But it was a very tough learning curve.

The Macy’s East Solution

With our high security executive turnover and with too few of our security executive positions being filled with internal promotions, in 1998 Tom Roan, group vice president for security at Macy’s East, decided this was not the right way to run our business. We needed to come up with a game plan to reduce turnover and protect the enormous investments we were making in our new managers.

Working with key executives in security and human resources, we set about developing a training program geared specifically for new hires and newly promoted security managers. The goal of the program was to get our new security managers up to speed quickly without overwhelming them.

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Our first task was to quantify what we wanted our security managers to do. So we reviewed all of our policies and operating procedures. Then we created a list of security manager responsibilities and categorized them by day, week, month, quarter, and season. This is what we call our security operating calendar.

Once we nailed down and prioritized the responsibilities, our next task was to develop the training program to teach the new managers how to accomplish all of these responsibilities.

Then we conducted a series of meetings with the regional and store management teams to explain the program and secure their support, without which this new initiative would not have been possible.

Lastly, we developed a mechanism to track the results.

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The Security Operating Calendar

Figure 1 shows a portion of the security operating calendar, listing some of the daily and weekly responsibilities.The tasks are listed in priority order, with the most important responsibilities listed first. Also, for training purposes, we listed the relevant procedures or other reference documentation under each task.

Upon seeing this document, the usual comment is, “Wow! How in the world do you expect your managers to do all of that?” The answer was to create a checklist to help the security manager delegate and manage tasks. We know our managers can’t be in their stores from opening to closing, seven days a week. Yet, these tasks still have to be accomplished, whether the manager is there or not. So the checklist, which is laid out similarly to the calendar, contains a column for the manager to write in the name of the individual assigned each responsibility. And there’s a check-off column for the person who was assigned each task to indicate that it has been completed.

Managers who learn to use the operating calendar and checklist properly are accomplishing several critical functions.

First, by assigning tasks and delegating responsibilities, they are spreading the knowledge and ensuring their detectives and other department members learn specific details about the actual operation of the department, rather than just how to catch shoplifters.

Second, they can ensure that critical tasks get done on their days off, at nights, and whenever they’re not around.

Third, by using the checklist, the security manager and his or her boss–which at Macy’s is the store operations manager–can see at a glance if the important requirements of the position are being accomplished on a consistent basis. And when the security regional vice president visits the store, he or she can also quickly assess whether or not the manager is coping and meeting obligations. So, it can be used effectively as a counseling tool.

Finally, the operating calendar and checklist help security managers to manage their time and stay focused.

The New Security Executive Training Program

Before getting into the details of our training program, it is important to recognize that the normal human resource training programs cannot address the specialized needs of the security manager. Also, at the store level,the store manager can provide on-the-job training for new merchandise and sales managers, and the operations manager can do the same with new receiving managers, but there are no resident experts in any of our stores to train the new security manager.

The initial phase of the new security executive training program is in three parts and takes about eight weeks to accomplish. At the end of the eight weeks, the new security manager will be well versed in the company, will have completed some personalized, hands-on training with all of our systems, and will have networked with some key people in the security department who will be valuable resources as he continues to develop in the assignment.

Week One. The first week starts with the new manager reporting to his assigned store on day one and being introduced by the operations manager to the other members of the store management team, to the security department, and to the store population at large, usually at a store-wide rally.
Ensuring the Survival of New Security Managers

Then–and this is an amazing thing–we send him out of the store for the remainder of his first week on the job.

The reason we do this relates back to the 76 days it used to take us to fill the average open security manager position. All of the people who have been saving problems for two and a half months are going to want immediate resolutions from a person who hasn’t even learned the office telephone number yet! It’s no wonder so many managers used to get overwhelmed right from the outset. The regional security vice president designates an experienced security manager in the region as a mentor, and the new manager spends his first week shadowing the mentor, without any responsibilities and without anyone expecting anything from him. This gives him four days to get his feet on the ground without any pressure. And during this time he is observing how the security department works within the company, and how this particular security manager works within his store. We cannot stress enough how important this week has proven to be to our new security managers, to let them get acclimated without getting buried.

Weeks Two through Five. After the initial shadowing week, the new security manager returns to his home store on a full-time basis. Over the next three to four weeks, he meets one day a week with the regional security trainer. I know many companies do not have the luxury of a dedicated regional security trainer. We have five trainers to cover 102 stores and over a thousand security people from Portland, Maine to Miami to New Orleans, plus Puerto Rico.

But who does the training isn’t the issue. The important thing is to have a competent, knowledgeable, and experienced member of the security department conduct this training. At each meeting, the trainer conducts personalized, hands-on training dealing with such topics as accessing our intranet-based security administrative programs, operating the store’s burglar alarm system, and so on. The regional trainer also coordinates at least one session with the regional director of investigations who shows the new security manager how to use all the investigative resources we have.

The security trainers use a formal agenda and checklist to ensure they cover all key topics, and they are prepared to spend as much time as necessary to ensure the new manager understands each topic, even if it requires additional meetings and weeks.

Ensuring the Survival of New Security Managers

As you might have guessed, one of the first topics covered is an overview of the basic job responsibilities, including how to use the security operating calendar, how to manage the staff, and how to manage cases. Other topics include the manager’s responsibility for driving the shortage awareness program, case management, evidence control and court procedures, staff administration and development, and various physical security issues, including alarm and EAS systems, CCTV, and key control.

One new security manager recently told me he considered this to have been the most valuable part of the program. He has 22 years experience with other major retailers and said this one-on-one training was unlike anything he had experienced before.

Weeks Six through Eight. In the final phase of the training, the new security manager meets one day a week for three weeks with the regional mentor. These meetings can be in the mentor’s store where the new manager did his initial shadowing assignment, or in his own store. Sometimes they meet in the central office or a neutral store where both managers can concentrate without normal interruptions. For each of these meetings the mentor follows a formal agenda designed to supplement the earlier sessions with the regional trainer.

The first day is dedicated to internal investigations, and covers the use of our intranet-based register tracking andreturns tracking programs, exception reports, the P.O.S.E.M. and Intelex CCTV/recording systems, and other keyinvestigative resources. The second day focuses on administration, including expense control, staffing, selling floor security standards, shortage awareness programs, staff and associate training programs, the burglar alarm system, and other basic operating standards.

The third day focuses on external cases and includes such topics as case management, evidence control, the article surveillance and CCTV systems, our security awards program, and fitting room controls.

At this point, the new manager has been on the job for eight weeks. He has had detailed and personalized training from a number of people on all of the keys aspects of his job. He now has a fairly thorough understanding of his role, and, most importantly, he has gotten up to speed without having been totally overwhelmed in the process.

No one expects the new manager to fully absorb all of the information he or she receives over the eight-week period. But, they will certainly have developed some valuable relationships that can be used as resources going forward. Also,managers who have been through this program are obviously much better equipped and much more likely to be productive and successful than those who have not had this benefit.

Follow-up Training

In order to be effective for the long term, every training program requires consistency, follow up, and reinforcement. First, to ensure consistency, all new security executives must complete the same standard security training that we require of all new-hire detectives. This includes successfully completing a six-hour CDROM-based security training program, followed by a day-long security training class taught by a regional security training manager. If the new manager was promoted from within, he already has this training. Otherwise, he should complete it within the eightweeknew executive training period. Experienced security managers already know the basics of these training programs, but their participation ensures not only that they learn the Macy’s way of operating, but also that they gain a thorough understanding of the specific training their security staff receives. This helps them to avoid providing conflicting direction, particularly regarding investigation and apprehension guidelines.

Second, for reinforcement, we require that all security personnel — staff and executives alike — complete a one-hour, computer-based security refresher training class every six months. We worked with RuMe Interactive to produce this program, which serves to refocus our security personnel on the basics: ethics, rules of conduct, apprehension guidelines, and, especially, liability avoidance. We continue to work with the vendor to produce new refresher training programs for the future.

Finally, in conjunction with our corporate legal department, the security trainers and regional security vicepresidents schedule annual legal reviews and seasonal security training workshops. These serve to reinforce thebasics while providing a forum for security managers to exchange ideas and share success stories. No doubt, these ongoing, refresher-training efforts contribute greatly to the success we’ve had in reducing executive turnover and increasing the percentage of internal promotions. The combination of a personalized one-on-one training experience for new managers, together with ongoing refresher training for all managers, has been a winning formula for Macy’s East.

The Tangible Results of the Program

We are very pleased with the results of this training initiative so far. Figure 1 graphically shows how this program has provided positive results in several key indicators.

Ensuring the Survival of New Security Managers
Figure 1

As the chart shows, our turnover is down significantly, our open jobs are being filled much quicker, and most importantly, we are filling the great majority of them internally. One other very significant fact is that 70 percent ofthe current security managers at Macy’s East just completed their second fourth quarter in the same assignment.

Overall, this program reduces the training curve and enhances stability within the security department and in the stores. Our security executives are now more knowledgeable and consistently able to perform at a much higher level than ever before. Clearly, this training initiative has been instrumental in enhancing the stature of our security managers throughout the company, earning them the recognition they deserve as key members of each store’s management team.

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