BUSINESS TIPS FROM SECURITY GUARDS
MANILA, August 2, 2004 (STAR) ITíS A WONDERFUL LIFE By Rod Nepomuceno - Out of the many attractions that this wonderful country of ours can offer to tourists, the one that really stands out for me (believe it or not) are those guys dressed in neatly-ironed white polo shirts, blue pants, fishnet caps and shiny belts, and armed with rusty old shotguns. Yup, our favorite character Ė the old, reliable security guard.
I donít know about you, but in my experience, these guys in blue and white catch the attention of my guests from abroad Ė not the colorful jeepneys, not the elaborate malls, not even the elegant hotel lobbies. Itís our beloved security guards (and their sometimes-amusing way of conducting their affairs) that never fail to amuse my visiting colleagues.
"Rod, itís amazing," commented Paul Tsuchiya, a former colleague of mine in IMG. "The security guards here are actually armed with shotguns! Wow!"
Then, one time, I was entertaining this executive from MTV and she went, "Whatís going on, here? There are so many security guards everywhere you go. And the guards here actually asked me to open my bag and he checked its contents Ė with a stick! Isnít this some kind of violation of privacy?"
And then, another colleague of mine from the States remarked, "Rod, why does each reception guard require us to register in their log book? Whatís the whole point?"
With all these queries, I can only shake my head, smile and say, "Thatís the way it is here."
Itís interesting. The same guys who make it their personal business to annoy all of us off on a daily basis are our top tourist attraction! If you go to other countries, you wonít see as many security guards as we have here. We are a country of security guards. And I have had my share of run-ins with these sometimes-unpredictable blue-and-white guys. I hate it when they make my life difficult. For instance, donít you get really annoyed when, after 20 minutes of going around looking for a parking space and you finally find one, a guard suddenly comes out of nowhere and shouts, "Bawal pumarada diyan!" Man!
And have you ever experienced being late for a meeting, and you finally get to the building and you rush past the guard and run towards the elevator, only to get shouted at Ė "Oops, oops, huy, saan ka pupunta? Register ka muna at mag-iwan ka ng ID! ĎYung may picture ha!" And so you go back, scribble your name hurriedly on this useless log sheet, put "O.B." under the purpose-of-visit column, grapple with your pockets to check if you have an ID with a picture on it, realize that the only ID you have is your driverís license, reluctantly turn in the darn thing, and when you finish with your meeting you leave the building only to realize that you have been walking in Greenbelt for an hour with an ID on your freakiní shirt pocket that says "Visitor No. 604."
Grrr! And donít you just get really irritated when you drive into one of those parking areas and you get the ticket from the lady in the booth and you start moving forward, and then suddenly, you hear a loud thud in the rear of your car, and you realize itís the guard demanding that you open your trunk first so he can check if youíve got any bombs and Uzis hidden somewhere. You then open your trunk "as requested" and the guard looks at the trunk for two seconds, completely ignoring the bags and boxes that could actually contain bombs and guns, and then slams the trunk and signals you to move on.
Can someone please explain to me what the heck that is all about???
I guess you can tell, that Iím not particularly fond of security guards. Letís face it. Most of us feel the same way. Sure, there are some really nice guards, particularly those you know personally (example, the guards in your village or the guards in your office building). But generally, if the guard doesnít know you, in his eyes you are the following: a potential thief, a suspected bomber, or a possible rapist. In their eyes everyone is guilty before being proven innocent. For them, there is always a reason to believe that anyone who wants to enter the building they are guarding has bad intentions. At least, thatís how I feel every time I get to deal with security guards. They usually ask you in an condescending, "Sinoíng hinahanap mo? Anong kailangan mo sa kaniya? May appointment ka ba?"
But you know, recently, I had a chance to observe a bunch of security guards in a restaurant while I was waiting for a client of mine. I studied them closely, monitoring their every move, every expression and every gesture. As I scrutinized them, I realized that these guys are people, too: human beings with emotions, with feelings, with families to support.
Letís admit it. Oftentimes, we dismiss these guys as unfeeling, unsympathetic, indifferent and hard-nosed characters who are bent on making life a living hell for all of us. But really, in the end they are just people doing their jobs. And thatís what I appreciate about these guys. They do their jobs. And how!
In fact, I will even go to the extent of saying that by observing them closely, I have actually learned a number of business lessons:
The Art Of Multi-Tasking
Security guards have mastered the art of multi-tasking way before computers were programmed to do it. If you look around, you will see guards doing multiple tasks Ė tasks that are certainly beyond merely guarding the building. In my life, I have seen security guards act as: collector of parking fees, issuer of receipts or tickets, human Bundy clocks, doorman, official greeter of clients and customers, official "receivers" when something is delivered, receptionist, bouncer of the sexy receptionist, issuer of the number slip when there is a line, cashier, message board (example, "Paki-sabi kay Jasper na dumaan ako, ha?"), janitors, psychiatrist for janitors whenever the latter have love problems, telephone operators, photocopy boys, ID issuers, logbook managers, pest controllers, newspaper boys, messengers, car cleaners, watch-your-car boys, umbrella holders, bus boys, carpenters and elevator man. Now if thatís not multi-tasking, I donít know what is. And to think that a security guard is usually not an employee of the company he works for!
I admire security guards because they seem to always have that boy scout attitude Ė always ready to help no matter what. They are always ready to do anything that their employers ask them to do. And thatís a good attitude to have. Itís pretty rare to have that kind of gung-ho, let-me-do-it attitude, especially among college graduates. These days, it is no longer enough to know just one skill. You have to make yourself useful to the company beyond your job description. This is particularly important when a certain situation calls for action that is not necessarily within your scope of responsibilities.
In the corporate world, people are often measured not so much on the tasks they are expected to do, but rather on their willingness to work on tasks that they are not expected to do. And based on my observation, security guards do that all the time.
Thatís something worth emulating.
Confidence, Confidence, Confidence
Most people find security guards arrogant. We often say, "Yabang ng guard na Ďyan ah. Akala mo siya may-ari ng building!" But if you come to think of it, a guard is precisely expected to protect the building as if it was his own property. The guard is hired precisely to be the alter ego of the owner who, at all times, must assert his ownership. Otherwise, he could lose his property. A guardís presence is supposed to discourage anyone who plans to do some hanky-panky in the building. If there is no guard in a building, a place can get easily abused. Try managing a building without a guard. In a week, the lobby of your place will be a pedestrian lane, with tambays and vendors hanging around.
Being the alter ego of the owner of the property, a guard must act with all the confidence in the world. And if you notice, most of them do. Guards assigned to man buildings donít care who the heck you are Ė whether you are a messenger or a president of a company. If you want to go in, you better log in and pin that doggone building ID, otherwise out you go! Guards to donít give a hoot if youíre a big shot or a politician. Theyíll talk to you straight in the eye without backing down. Of course, having a shotgun on hand helps in building up self-confidence. But really, a guard must have all the confidence in the world, if only to ensure that the building and the property are secure.
We should all have this kind of confidence whenever we do business. Whenever we go out there in the corporate jungle, we must consider that we are the alter ego of the company we represent. If youíre lame and shy, people will conclude that you simply donít believe in your product. Confidence, to me, is half the sale. If you donít believe in yourself, you simply wonít get the job done Ė and believe me, you wonít amount to anything. If you donít have any confidence in yourself, no one will take you seriously.
One thing I appreciate about guards is their attitude of acting as if every situation is a life-and-death-situation. Donít you get that feeling? Whenever they receive packages, they will carefully and methodically check the accompanying papers before they sign. And when you try to enter their turf, they will really size you up. You must log in your name. You must pin your ID at all times. You must open your trunk and your glove compartment. You must get a number slip before you line up. They take each responsibility given to them so seriously youíd think that they were guarding Fort Knox. When they scribble down your plate number on the parking slip, they are so concentrated, so focused. And it amazes me no end. No matter how mundane, routine-like and trivial we think of their tasks, they donít care. They take their task to heart.
We should really all learn from that. If only all of us in the corporate world applied the same kind of attitude in our work, we would be a first world country by now.
So, in conclusion, I have this to say: After much reflection, I have come to realize that security guards are really not all that bad. Sure, they harass us. But in the end, we can learn a lot from how they work and how they approach their daily tasks.
And hey, letís not forget Ė they are tourist attractions, too! And during these times, we need all the tourist attractions we can get!
* * * Thanks for your letters, folks! You may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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