Do you protect your Protectors?
Over the last several years, we have written a few hundred articles related to protective work within our industry and we have almost always addressed topics of interest from the perspective of an Executive Protection Agent or directed advice or opinions toward them. As threats change with the times, the topics of discussion must change and occasionally we must address an old topic from a fresh perspective. This article is directed to the security company owner, manager, or even team leader, and addresses a more mundane yet equally important topic: Taking care of your own people.
In an ever-changing and increasingly unpredictable world, the role of executive protection agents has become more crucial than ever. These skilled professionals devote their lives to ensuring the safety and security of high-profile individuals, including corporate executives, celebrities, and public figures. While the focus is often on the clients they protect, what is often overlooked but equally essential for security companies to prioritize, is the well-being and care of their executive protection agents.
What many company owners and managers will tell you they are looking for when hiring someone to work for them (and represent their companies), is loyalty, dedication, hard-working, punctual, positive attitude, team player, ethical, honest, law-abiding, and professional. It shouldn’t be surprising, but many employees are looking for the same qualities in a company’s top leaders, and most importantly they are looking for a company who will take care of them as they are representing these companies and working to take good care of their clients. Most managers, CEO’s or other owners fail to remember that when their company is awarded a contract and they hire people to work for them, their organization’s integrity is judged by, and dependent upon, their employees. Their employees are, in effect, they themselves. So, caring for your executive protection agents, your own people, is of vital importance for security companies not only for obvious moral reasons, but also due to several other factors we will describe.
Ensuring Optimal Performance: Executive protection agents operate in a world demanding high responsibility, and in high-stress environments where their ability to make quick, critical decisions can be a matter of life or death. By providing comprehensive care, security companies can ensure that agents are mentally and physically fit, enabling them to perform their duties at the highest level. Proper rest, mental health support, regular training, and a healthy work-life balance are essential for sustaining peak performance. Let’s also not forget the fact that it takes a lot of time and effort for an agent to ‘’learn’’ their clients. What they like, dislike, where their boundaries lie, and how they want things done. Having to replace your executive protection agents for a specific client and bringing new people in, it will take time for them to be ‘’trained’’ with the specific detail and client. And this is time and effort one can ill afford in this day and age.
Retention and Loyalty: Highly skilled executive protection agents are in great demand, and retaining top talent can be a challenge. By prioritizing the well-being of these professionals, security companies can foster loyalty and improve retention rates. Agents who feel valued and supported are more likely to stay with an organization for the long term, reducing turnover and ensuring continuity in service quality. There is nothing else that may bother clients more than when they have to see new faces assigned to their protection (cause the previous one quit or was fired). Quite often, familiarity fosters a sense of security for the client(s). Remember clients love stability.
Reputation and Professionalism: An executive protection company's reputation is closely linked to the quality and professionalism of its executive protection agents. Clients expect highly trained and well-rounded professionals who are dedicated to their craft. Companies that do not invest in their agent well-being, have a huge employee turnover and will have a negative reputation. But by investing in the care and development of their agents, security companies can enhance their reputation as an organization that values excellence, integrity, and the safety of its clients.
Mitigating Legal and Ethical Risks: Executive protection agents often operate in sensitive and legally complex situations. Security companies must ensure that their agents receive proper support to navigate these challenges while adhering to legal and ethical standards. By neglecting the care of their agents, security companies not only compromise the well-being of their staff but also increase the risk of legal liabilities and reputational damage. If your EP agents don’t feel that the company cares for them, then how can you possibly expect them to care about what will happen to your company?
Building a Positive Organizational Culture: A strong organizational culture rooted in compassion, respect, and support is instrumental in attracting and retaining talented individuals. When security companies prioritize the well-being of their executive protection agents, it creates a positive work environment that promotes teamwork, camaraderie, and a shared sense of purpose. This, in turn, contributes to higher job satisfaction and overall employee morale. Do you know your agents? Do you REALLY know your agents? You may have read their CV, but your EP agents are more than just words on a paper or what makes you money. They have strengths and weaknesses, they may have family matters or needs or something in their lives that requires time off or placing them in a different duty for the time being. Being understanding and having empathy can go miles away for them later.
It is very important while you are working toward taking care of YOUR people to consider some issues that allow for a toxic work environment for both employers and employees which leads to turnover, poor performance, and poor loyalty.
As we know, each company has its own vision and goal. The question is: are you as the creator or guardian of that vision, as loyal to it today as you were on day one? Are you loyal to the people who work for you, to what your company represents, to the profession? Or are you ‘’bending’’ your own work ethics or clouding your company’s vision for that monthly check? Great operatives sometimes work for organizations that have cut corners, lagged in paying their employees, failed to support their employees, siding instead with the client, and forcing employees to quit before it was time to give them a raise. If you think that your employees won’t quit and inform everyone they know (including your competitors), about your conduct, you are wrong.
Are you on time with your responsibilities toward the people that work for you? Are they getting paid for their working hours/days expenses and benefits on time? “I HAVEN’T BEEN PAID BY THE CLIENT YET” is not an excuse for not paying your EP agents on time. Operating a business and hiring people means you have a specific amount of capital you must set aside to insure payroll. Failing to achieve payroll independence probably means you are mismanaging your profits and maybe your company. Do you return their phone calls promptly? Do you promise performance raises at 6 months of employment and then wait for the employee to beg you for it at 7 months?
Are you honest regarding employment contracts? There are companies that practice “Shadow Contracting”, which uses two sets of terms: one for the clients and one for the operatives. The difference between the two are the services promised to the client within the terms of service and what the operative believes they are signing up for in pay, working conditions, risk, and support. In most cases, the client is unaware of this.
Are you a team player? I have heard the phrase “I want you to see our company as your family”, many times. This is a hollow statement because:
They already have a family.
They are usually under a contract with a time limit.
They will never feel like that if/when your family and friends are in all of the key positions or in charge of the operations.
As a business owner, manager, or CEO you have to think ahead and take care of your people. Some contracts require assignments in distant cities or other countries. Those people, who work for you, protect your clients, and basically make money for you are away from their homes and families, possibly in a different culture, unfriendly country, or in a domestic environment that tests their patience, fidelity, fitness, and temperament. Are you focusing on what the EP agents need to succeed 20 or 30 or 60 or 90 days into their assignment? Are you watching for complacency and prepared to replace or rotate your EP agents if complacency or boredom becomes apparent? Did you remember to add this contingency to the client’s contract and explain that the EP agent the client starts with may not be the one they end up with?
Do you regularly check to ensure that your EP agents do not exceed 12 hours a day in service for more than a week and that they receive proper time for rest or rehabilitation or training or fitness? Did you put these terms into the contract? Did you secure a retainer?
Remember, as the guardians of high-profile individuals, executive protection agents face immense pressure and risks in their line of work. It is incumbent upon security companies to recognize the importance of caring for these dedicated professionals. By investing in their well-being, security companies not only improve the performance and retention of their agents but also safeguard their reputation, mitigate legal risks, and foster a positive organizational culture. Ultimately, prioritizing the care of executive protection agents is not only a sound business decision but also a moral obligation that reflects a commitment to the safety and welfare of those who protect others. Do you want to provide the best services to your respective clients? Care for those who care for them…In so doing, you will strengthen the chain of service provision, the quality of that service, and most importantly, those on whose shoulders that services ultimately rests!
At LeMareschal, we place extreme value in our people and know that our Executive Protection agents and Intelligence analysts ARE what make us who we are.
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