Policies and Training

Why Aren’t Posted Orders Followed?

The posted orders at a security officer’s position exist for a reason. Their existence provides rules, responses, and a formalized structure for the officer’s work shift. So why are posted orders so poorly written or not followed? What are the liability concerns if they aren’t followed? How can site security managers craft better orders?

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While some security officers may see the posted orders for their location as critically important when they first get hired, they can start to see them as unnecessary the longer they work at the site. This could happen if they start to see them as outdated, not connected to what they actually do, or worse, not even posted at the site anymore. This can lead to poor service, confusion, mistakes, and certainly the possibility of liability to both the facility and the company that provided the guards. Plaintiffs’ attorneys will certainly want to see copies of all posted orders for the site if they feel their clients were injured, killed, or harmed as a result of not following what is supposed to be written, posted, understood, and acted upon.

Crafting useful, site-appropriate, and timely posted orders requires more than just only the use of a standard boilerplate for that specific location. While templates are useful as a starting point, these documents demand discussion with the client, clear goals for the protection of the site, and daily operational objectives for the security officers. The language needs to be clear, unambiguous, and specifically related to what the officers should be doing and are actually capable of doing. Having them check for trouble codes for the fire alarm system every hour sounds good on paper, but it’s worthless if the officers don’t know what that means or how to do it.

It’s common to hear from facilities managers or the client who has hired a security guard firm complain that the officers on post do too much (less often) or do too little (more likely). This can create bad feelings between the security provider and the client, when in reality, it may not be the guards’ fault. They may not have been briefed effectively on the needs and duties for that site; they may not realize the posted orders exist; or they may have not been trained adequately.

And besides receiving specific input from the client as to their desires for the guards’ duties, responsibilities, and per-shift activities (including what to document, when to do it, and who to turn in those reports to), the guards can provide their own ideas back to their site manager as to what changes or improvements need to be made, often within their first 30 days at the site. Getting information from the guards about better approaches based on their recent experience not only improves the protection of the site but using their suggestions also improves their overall buy-in and makes it more likely they will follow rules they helped create.