Hiring for Healthcare Security

Hi All,

Please see this nice post by Alex Goldfayn. How true this is!

Hire for attitude, instead of aptitude. As Alex points out, there is training for the latter.

For those of us seeking to recruit Contact Professionals into the world of Healthcare Security (a never-ending task and even more challenging in today’s labor landscape), let me add some points. I contribute these for your consideration, given how sophisticated the role of Healthcare Security can be, especially compared to other, non-healthcare Security roles.

Experience has taught me that, for Healthcare Security Professionals, we must hire for attitude and enthusiasm, as Goldfayn highlights. We can provide all the training necessary to prepare them for the job. The candidate, however, must bring a fitting attitude.

We must also, however, hire for two other qualities which should best come married together. These are:

1. Strength (especially including moral strength)
2. A caring and compassionate concern (ethic) for others

Strength (especially including moral strength)

When hiring professional Healthcare Security Team Members (of any rank, from boots on the ground to the C Suite), we must have women and men who are strong, and who will consistently do what is right, even when no one is looking. We must have men and women who will strive to do what is right, even in the face of directives from a policy or person telling us to do something that may be wrong. Yes, I am saying that doing what is right is more important than simply following the letter of the law, policy, or verbalized directive from a supervisor.

Most of the time, our policies do outline what is right. Most of the time. However, in some policies (we’ve all seen them), due to miswritten guidance or too much space for individualized interpretation, policies can imply or even mandate what are actually specious performance behaviors. Question them. Better yet, fix them!

We all also know all too well that directives from some leaders can be grossly misguided. Misguidance from supervisors can be even more slippery than policies. Case law informs us that if I follow the misguidance of a supervisor, and I do something illegal or unethical, I cannot use as a justification for my innocence the fact that my leader told me to do it. I should and will be held accountable for the act. Following a supervisor’s guidance, when the guidance is illegal or unethical, does not allow one to escape being held as one of the two (or more) culpable parties.

Interview and hire for strength (especially moral strength). For this, you may ask, for example, “Tell me about a time when you did not follow a policy or verbal directive from a supervisor. What happened? What did you do? And what was the outcome?”

Listen to their answers. If they give an answer such as, “Oh, I always follow policies or my supervisor’s directives,” this is a red flag. Dig down further to confirm their perspective on this.

We must also hire for other areas of strength as well. This includes the ability to physically manage what is outlined in (hopefully realistic) performance expectations of a role description. In today’s violent healthcare environment, we must have Team Members who can manage what needs managing, morally, physically, and otherwise. Follow labor law and the guidance from your Human Resources Business partners when hiring for strength.

A caring and compassionate concern (ethic) for others.

All Healthcare Security Professionals (from the Security Officer to the Security Director) must have a caring and compassionate concern (ethic) for others. Without it, they won’t fit well in a treatment milieu wherein Healthcare Professionals of all disciplines are striving to create an environment conducive to healing. The last thing we need is Healthcare Security Officers (this goes for Law Enforcement as well) who have the antiquated perspective that, to do their job, they must don a stern facial expression, minimize interaction with patients and visitors, and otherwise have a forbidding appearance with overly directive interactions with others.

Why is this?

Firstly, we know that having a calm and friendly demeanor with others contributes to creating a non-escalating environment. If your organization is training in a high-quality conflict communication (aka: de-escalation) program such as Verbal Judo, Surviving Verbal Conflict, or the Non-Escalation & De-Escalation programs of Vistelar, then you’re well aware of this. The overly stern, unfriendly Security Officer or Police Officer contributes to creating an atmosphere conducive to escalation and violence. Read the previous sentence again. And don’t forget it. Let me repeat it for your here.

The overly stern, unfriendly Healthcare Security Officer or Police Officer contributes to creating an atmosphere conducive to escalation and violence.

Secondly, we work in healthcare. People come to us at their worst. Part of our role is to contribute to an environment conducive to healing. We can contribute to an atmosphere conducive to healing when we bring a unity of qualities into the environment, namely a caring and compassionate concern (ethic) for others and strength (especially moral strength).

Interview and hire for a caring and compassionate concern (ethic) for others. You may ask interview questions such as, “Tell us about a time you encountered someone in public or in the workplace who was in pain, distress, or anguish. What happened? What did you do? What was the outcome?”

Listen to their response. Can the Healthcare Security Officer candidate provide something more, something deeper, than simply the stereotypical answer that is often overly “enforcement-ey” and in which empathy (remembering that empathy is not sympathy) is conspicuously absent? Look for empathy (not sympathy) coming out of the candidate. The presence of empathy is a key indicator of developed emotional intelligence (EQ).

The unity of strength (especially including moral strength) & a caring and compassionate concern (ethic) for others

Sometimes, we can have Team Members who may have a caring and compassionate concern (ethic) for others, but (for whatever reason) are not strong (morally or otherwise). Here they may be amazing caregivers. They may be warm and friendly to visitors and patients. However, they may lack the ability to actually create a safer environment for everyone. Remember that it takes moral strength to contribute to a safe environment. It’s not just about physical strength (although I’m not discounting the value of physical strength). Families, organizations, and nations crumble when moral strength is conspicuously absent.

Sometimes, we can have Team Members who may have strength as a primary quality but (for whatever reason) have little to no caring and compassionate concern (ethic) for others. Here they may be amazing Protectors, very much needed in today’s healthcare environments. They may be fantastic limit-setters. However, without a caring and compassionate concern for others, they will fall short of performance expectations in a healing environment. They can end up being perceived and/or acting like a bully due to their lack of a caring & compassionate concern (ethic) for others. The two qualities of strength & a caring/compassionate concern (ethic) for others must be married together to bring about a balanced Healthcare Security Professional. There must be a unity of qualities.

Some may question how these two qualities, especially the caring and compassionate concern (ethic) for others, married together, are achievable in today’s violent healthcare environments. I remind you this, namely that if you believe one can’t be a capable and strong Healthcare Security Professional AND also be kind, caring, and compassionate, then your philosophy of service, your training program, and your trained tactics are too unsophisticated.

I’ve personally witnessed the embodied alliance of these qualities in countless numbers of Healthcare Security Professionals (both female and male). It’s amazing to see such Professionals in action, keeping others safe and leaving all persons better than they found them. They are true Servants of Humanity, with deep purpose in their work and a huge impact on others.

Let’s aim deep and high with our recruiting efforts when seeking the best of the best, the uncommon among the common.

Until later…

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