During his 1961 inaugural address, John F. Kennedy famously declared “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” This philosophy of doing something for others instead of expecting others to do something for you is also very relevant in security leadership. Too often, supervisors, managers and directors focus so much on what their team should be doing for them and the company that they forget about what they should be doing for their employees.

A security leader cannot be successful if they don’t have the support of their team. Employees who don’t feel appreciated and trusted by their leaders are much more likely to quit, file grievances, ignore policy and procedures, and shirk responsibilities. Your team also needs to know that you’re their advocate, willing to help them develop and hone their skills for professional advancement opportunities.

The following are 10 ways to demonstrate that you appreciate your employees and their success.

  1. Celebrate with Food
    Providing food and treats to your employees is a great way to celebrate special days and acknowledge their hard work and dedication.  You can go the extra mile by personally delivering a bag of burgers, pizza or cupcakes to the after-hours teams. This will show your employees that you care for their well-being and build positive camaraderie.
  2. Peer Recognition Program
    Create a peer rewards and recognition program that acknowledges exceptional teamwork, customer service and professional contributions.  Use free online tools to anonymously survey the team to determine who the winner should be. This allows the whole team to nominate well-deserved coworkers instead of having a few members of management decide.
  3. Memberships and Subscriptions
    Provide free professional memberships to employees who want to make a career out of security or a related field. This will help them become more engaged and keep them apprised of industry trends. A few good options may be a membership to ASIS International, or magazine subscriptions to Security, the Journal of Emergency Medical Services and Firehouse magazine.
  4. Resume Development
    It is a benefit to have employees on your team who want to develop professionally and advance in security or a related field. Help those eager and determined employees by providing resume development opportunities.  Let your team know that you are open to resume development sessions or that you will connect them with a person who can best help develop and refine their resumes. Provide useful edits and advice based on current trends and what leadership looks for in a resume.
  5. Letters of Reference
    Be willing to provide reference letters for employees who need them for school or professional advancements. This shows deserving employees you believe in them and want them to succeed. In turn, the recipients of your reference letters will champion your security program.
  6. Mentoring and Networking Opportunities
    Connect employees who want to better themselves with mentors or professionals that can help direct their career paths. People who are new to the industry might not understand what it takes to advance. Help by showing them the skills they will need to learn, the training they will need to take, and the education they may need to obtain. It is also helpful to share personal experiences about the industry and your successes and failures. Sometimes, you may not be the best mentor for all employees.  In these cases, help connect employees to the best mentor for their long-term goals.
  7. Showcase the Awesomeness of the Job
    Take every opportunity to tell employees how important their jobs are. Show them how their responsibilities relate to the total success of the company. This can be done through sharing statistics, sharing how current news stories relate to their jobs, recognizing an employee for a job well done in front of their peers, and by being the number one advocate for your team, the job and the team’s successful future.
  8. Spot Awards
    Personally hand gift cards or other small prizes to employees who were caught doing something great. Let them know how much you appreciate their effort and how it reflects positively on the whole department.  A $5.00 gift card to a local coffee shop, burger joint or the company eating establishment works great!
  9. Birthday Cards
    In a world filled with electronic messages, memos and letters, it is easy to forget how meaningful a handwritten card can be. Make an effort to have everyone on the team sign a birthday card for each employee. It will have a great impact on employee morale and team camaraderie. It may also be the only item they receive on their birthday.
  10. Trust
    Trust your employees to do the right thing every time. When an employee violates that trust, deal specifically with that employee. Don’t punish the entire team for the actions of one.  This may be the best thing you can do to show that you personally care for them and their success. If you don’t believe it, just imagine if your leader didn’t trust you and your decision-making ability; it would be completely demotivating and you would probably want to quit.