Lockdown – provides time to exercise resilience?
How does an organisation achieve resilience? A good starting point is identifying possible threats and how to respond to them. A critical part of resilience is regular exercising and developing your people, including the leadership team. Lockdown could provide an opportunity to exercise resilience.
Identifying the threats
One trait of a resilient organisation is said to be its ability to identify current and emerging threats and the impact they may have. A major risk the security industry is constantly reminded of is the threat from terror because of its potential catastrophic impact on an organisation. The steady flow of material from CPNI, UK Protect and Police colleagues is supplemented by repeated warnings from well-placed commentators who raise the possibility of another atrocity in the near future. During lockdown, this has been further exacerbated by the possibility of vulnerable people being exploited and radicalised to carry out attacks. Of course, there are many other potential threats to organisations, including cybercrime, COVID-19 and severe weather conditions that must be identified.
Guidance and training available
To help combat the terror threat, police and government guidance has been widely circulated. This includes the National Counter Terrorism Security Office series of ‘Marauding Terrorist Attack’ documents published shortly after the Reading atrocity. It encourages security managers to review and rehearse their dynamic lockdown procedures. SCAN (See, Check, Scan and Notify) continues to be rolled out by CPNI to help businesses and organisations maximise safety and security and use existing resources to correctly identify and respond to suspicious activity. Impressively large numbers of security officers and others are said to have undertaken the ACT – Awareness eLearning a CT awareness product.
This provides nationally recognised corporate CT guidance to help people better understand, and mitigate against, current terrorist methodology. The ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ campaign from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, including a film, leaflet and posters has reached large numbers. There is also other numerous guidance on organised terrorist bomb attacks.
Currently, our security teams are responding daily to a range of incidents and situations. Not least the current pandemic, where their role has been expanded to include additional responsibilities, like monitoring social distancing. The warnings of terror attacks are fed in, but without any local incidents, thankfully, to support the demand for high levels of alertness. There is, therefore, a greater chance that complacency sets in, and people may not be sufficiently ready to respond as effectively.
The time between training input and the probable ‘once in a career’ need to implement any of their training means that knowledge and skills may fade if not put into frequent practice. Added to this, when incidents do happen, lessons are learnt and we need to review and update our response plans and training to reflect these.
With this in mind, two important questions a resilient organisation needs to be asking are:
- Faced with an immediate threat now – what will the security team and those within an organisation responsible for responding actually do?
- Does the training and exercising they have received allow them to respond effectively?
Written plans and emergency procedures are an essential part of ensuring greater understanding across organisations and provide detailed instructions on how to respond.
However, people learn best by doing, and everyone responsible for responding to an incident needs to trust each other and know their colleagues will be acting in a unified way for any number of serious situations, not just terrorism.
This is essential for all staff including the leadership team who must be well-prepared to respond effectively. How much time has been devoted to having senior managers consider solutions to ‘worst-case scenarios’ and really thinking through the steps needed to handle such situations?
A seriously injured employee or a traumatised team on the ground is not the time to start thinking how leadership should react. Time regularly invested in developing considered responses to such situations is never wasted. A leadership team well practiced and familiar with the thought processes is much more likely to succeed than one reliant on individual reaction when faced with the unfamiliar.
Lockdown: a unique opportunity
As the lockdown continues much of the security sector has their staff deployed in sparsely occupied premises. This offers a unique opportunity to exercise and develop people’s knowledge that should be capitalised on. The opportunity to regularly put people through simulated situations with negligible disruption to the day-to-day business of a building should be seized on to develop skills and confidence in handling serious situations. Lockdown could also be the moment to organise an exercise to help your leadership team practice and develop its response.
Being well drilled and practiced in thinking about its response is critical in helping an organisation be resilient should the worst actually happen.
Senior Project Manager