Rising Above Adversity
Greetings to all my loyal readers and followers. It has been some time since I have written a blog post and a lot has changed in that time. Anyone worth their salt in the self development field, martial arts scene and fitness industry can attest that being around motivating people can be the difference between rising up to the challenges life throws our way or crumbling into a misguided mess.
Due to the nature of the work I do in the security industry, I have to maintain discreetness when working particular assignments. For those who have missed my regular posts I will tell you what I was doing. I was working over the last few weeks some very important social events those being the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Both of these events are designed to bring tourism to Australia by means of bringing in business into the local economy.
I was thrilled that I was chosen to work these events as in the last 8 years I haven't worked events with this level of responsibility. I think completing my Diploma in Leadership and Management had bolstered my suitability for these roles. This was the opportunity I was waiting for to test what I had learnt in theory.
Lets start with F1. The team I had working with me were an ecletic group of indivduals from a range of different cultural backgrounds. A blend of Australian, Indian, Pakistani, Iranian, Turkish, Arabic, Sudanese and Libyan. The first issue I had that before working with my team I hadn't met them face to face with exception of my Australian protege Tyler who I am mentoring. He has been my offsider at the Karaoke bar for the last 6 months and has replaced my good friend Mark who resigned. I wanted him to work here so he could see what its like to work these big events.Mentoring this young man has made me into a better leader as he looks up to me. I do my best to be a good influence on him.
Secondly, 80 % of my team of 15 guards working with me had a poor understanding of the English Language. Some made an effort to communicate in English, whilst the others would be speaking in their native tounge. This frustrated me somewhat and often when leading my team I would have to entrust a bilingual guard named Usman to translate. I was fortunate he could speak English reasonably well and could speak in several languages.
The next issue I had was being under resourced. The prime security company who had the contract didnt provide adequate resources for my security team to do their job efficiently and effectively. Working as a sub contractor on certain events it can feel like you are just a pawn in a chess game. My boss Sam, who is a lovely bloke was on site every night to assist me but some of the things we were asked to do by the client was considered impossible to say the least. Even Sam was bewildered as to how underresourced we were. Most of the time when patrolling the zone I was responsible for I had to do it on foot. A buggy would have made it so much easier and as a result I walked 50 kilometres between posts over 3 days. Great for my waistline, but definitely not for my feet.
The venue we had to patrol is quite sparse in size and in order just to get to the raceway from home was an arduous feat. Logistically it was difficult as Public Transport isnt direct from where I live. Meaning I would have to take a train, change stations, then take a tram and then walk or catch an Uber just to get to the venue. So instead I drove in, assuming that I could park inside the event. That wasnt the case as the organizers blocked off many streets using Traffic Control to corral the amount of visitors to the event. As a result for the first few days I was late to work despite being a supervisor! Sometimes up to an hour late for work leaving most of my team waiting for me. Obviously this doesnt look good to the guards working under me, as first impressions do count.
Once I worked out timings to get to work on time, the next challenge was organsing a regular meeting spot for the team to sign in. Again, language barriers came into play and whilst some guards made an effort to come to work on time others treated it like a visit to a country club. A deployment which should take less then 30 minutes took nearly 2.5 hours and needless to say I was being chastised by upper management because of this. After a week we finally got it down to 27 minutes from sign in to deploy all 15 personnel to their positions so the day time security guards can go home.
It also didnt help that we had to keep moving zones so we decided to defy upper management and pick one place to meet. It was a marquee with used tyres out the front which had the Michelin Tyres logo and trademark Bibendum Michelin Man Logo plastered all over the trucks behind the marquee. This was how we overcame this issue as most people the world over know what Michelin is with its trademark yellow and blue colours. From the first day in which 8 guards were late to work (including myself) , to just 1 who didnt see the importance of showing up on time I think it is a significant improvement.
Overtime we became faster and more productive, and the team now understood that if one person is late or does the wrong thing its not the individual in question who gets reprimanded its the whole team who is held accountable as a whole. As the supervisor, often I would get raked over the coals for my teams mistakes leaving me feeling vulnerable, but I know that as a leader I must wear that. Once I reiterated to the guards that when they screw up, I get blamed for their mistakes they then understood to do their utmost not to screw up. Obviously certain things were beyond our control, but instead of worrying about it we focused on the things we could control.
They became accountable and the last few shifts over the 7 day assignment ran relatively smooth. By the end most of the guards took responsibility whereas the select few clearly indicated to me they werent team players. But that is ok. I made sure that they werent welcome to work with me again.
It may seem cold that I had to dismiss a couple of my guards from their duties but as a supervisor I am responisble for the welfare of my team. I have never lead a team that size, as when I studied Frontline Management in 2012, I learnt how to lead a team of 4-5 individuals. This is a lot easier as you get to know them on a personal level to the point you know almost everything about their work ethic, likes/dislikes, skills and experience and most importantly their attitude. Attitude is something I often talk about as in my experience skills can be taught attitude cannot as it comes from within a person.
In regards to the individual I had to dismiss from the venue it was a Sudanese 'security' guard who not only was rude, aggressive and down right disrespectful to me. The scenario goes that he was positioned to look after several expensive luxury vehicles and patrol the area frequently and be seen. It was dark when we were working and the venue had poor lighting in certain areas.
Understanding that most of my team had language barriers I did the best I could to explain to each guard their job succinctly, even if it meant repeating myself more then once or asking Usman to translate. Most of the time they understood and complied with my orders but this one individual wouldnt take orders from me. I could understand if I talked down to him, belittled him, screamed at him. But, all I did in a polite tone was ask him to patrol more frequently and be seen patrolling the grounds.
To which I was then blasted with an aggressive response. It was unprovoked and not justified. I could see this individual would give us nothing but problems so I had to call someone from the control room to talk to him. He was still being defensive, so I made the call to terminate his role at the event. I will not tolerate back chat from anyone regardless of their position. We then had to escort him off site. This was quite unsettling as it was on my first shift at the event and less then 2 hours into it and we had to sack somebody, not just a member of the public but a member of my team. How did I make a decision to let go of the troublesome guard so quickly?
It was something I learnt many years ago and that was the concept pictured below. It is called the Hierarchy of Control, which is a methodology used for determining how to solve potential hazards, threats and risks using the appropriate response which has a positive outcome primarily keeping people as well as places safe from harm. It mitigates risk provided the appropriate response is selected for the problem at hand. It can be used in various ways ranging from security related matters, OHS, WHS as well as in financial and scientific endeavours. Risk will always be present and this model is not a 'magic bullet' per se but it definitely can reduce the adverse effects that would normally be present in its absence.
I hate letting people go, but I had the foresight to see that he would cause nothing but drama. So using this model I chose to ELIMINATE the problem. I would rather work with less people, but the right people. Larger teams dont neccessarily mean, better output of results no matter what you do. Now you understand how I used it in this context, apply it in different areas of your life and see if it makes a difference.
Other factors at play that made the assignment hard for all concerned was working in the elements, being understaffed as some guards decided closer to the end not to show up which meant we constantly had to fill the gaps by finding new guards to replace certain positions. Morale was slowly dwindling, but I enlisted the help of my high performing guards to motivate the others and continue to keep morale up despite having the odds stacked against us. From being seen as a complete failures by certain staff members to improving signifcantly by the end of the event we overcame the impossible. Since then several guards have applauded my efforts and wish to work alongside me at other events as well as for my new security company which I am in the process of forming.
The business is registered, but we need the company security licence in order to begin trading. I am excited about the prospect of running Personal Protection Training and my new venture Samson Protective Services in conjunction with each other. I will keep everyone updated once we can legally begin trading.
As for Gold Coast, my experience went rather smoothly as I learnt a lot from the many mistakes of my deployment at F1. However, due to confidentiality clauses in my contract for that job I cannot disclose much information about the event. But suffice to say, it ran a lot smoother then F1 despite certain logistical challenges. I truly enjoyed my time working up there and despite being in the sun for most of my time there the Vitamin D really helped me recover from F1. Most of the time at F1 I was working 12-16 hour night shifts with minimal sleep in between as a supervisor because often I would be doing paperwork, attending meetings, rostering, and commuting to and from the event.
The one piece of advice I can give you is this. Don't be afraid of making mistakes be it in your personal life, your work like, relationships and in your education. The best lessons come from the times you feel that the world is raining blows on you. You can do one of two things. Let it beat you into a submission until your a bloody pulp or face its challenges and take a few hits on the chin, before landing a knock out blow with you emerging victorious. The choice is yours....
In summing up, felt this song might inspire you to take charge and fight against adversity as the title of this blog post says. I am crediting Katy Perry for this song and felt this was perfect for the theme of this post. Plus it helps that she is visually appealing to many people! Enjoy your week and until next time be good to one another and show respect to those you come across.