Winning with a highly manageable area: Less is more for high octane security managers

March 18, 2015
Organization and sustainability are the building blocks for successfully managed departments

Editor’s Note: This is the first entry in a new monthly column series from SIW contributor Ray Bernard entitled “Winning with a Highly Manageable Area.” Each article will focus on different ways security managers can improve their departments and will be featured in our Security Frontline e-newsletter which you can sign up for here.     

This secret is for security directors and managers, but applies also to anyone who directly manages a functional area of organization. Additionally, up-line management need to understand this critical success factor and support its application by their direct reports.

There are many advices to be found about having a well-managed functional area. Most of them could be classified as principles, strategies and tactics relating to good management and leadership. Many of these, rightly so, focus specifically on improving the area’s manager, and changing his or her approach to leading or managing.

That is why they work only up to a point, and why the relief and benefit that the often-overworked manager receives lasts only so long. There is a hidden assumption that underlies these approaches. Their long-term success almost always requires a condition that rarely exists. The condition is not a prerequisite to initial improvement, but is always a requirement for sustained success.

The Trouble with Most Improve-the-Manager Approaches

At one point or another, all managers collide with this one fact:

Ultimately, to have a sustainably well-managed functional area requires that the area itself be highly manageable. It requires that the area is organized in a way that it can sustain itself, and that each part of it can manage itself, allowing the area to be led and managed without overburdening its manager.

An area should be organized in a way that further improvements do not increase its manager’s burden of managing, but instead lessen that burden. That manager is then is free to pay very close attention to supporting the individuals and teams in the area, to represent the area well to the area’s stakeholders, and to advocate on its behalf to senior management.

This is rarely the case, and is one reason why many functional areas remain siloed, and why senior management and other key stakeholders are often unaware of the true value of these areas. It is also a key reason why a gap exists between the potential value of a functional area and the value that it currently delivers to the organization.

Making an Area Highly Manageable

There are many ways to organize and improve an area. Some are practically universal. Some are dependent upon the current state of the specific area. There are many aspects of work and activities, personnel and workloads, organizational relationships and interdependencies, resources, demands, requirements, roles, responsibilities and so on that could become a focus for improvement. Almost always there is low-hanging fruit that a manager can go after for a quickly obtainable result. But unless changes and improvements are done in a way that makes the area more highly manageable, the benefits will be short-lived and may even backfire on the personnel, the manager, or both. That is what has given many managers and their staff an aversion to any kind of initiative that seeks to improve efficiency or effectiveness.

The fact that making an area highly manageable is the missing ingredient in achieving sustainable success is a little-known but very critical factor.

What is also not widely known is how simple it is to make micro-improvements that, bit by bit, all contribute to having a stably productive and more highly manageable area.

That is the subject of the series of articles titled: Winning with a Highly Manageable Area. The series includes checklists, worksheets and tools that you can use to make micro-improvements that constitute a path to a highly manageable area.

The first step is to use the Job Characterization Checklist (download here) to profile your job from an objective perspective. It covers the situations of the one-person-army, the working manager, and the full-time manager; it also takes into account the various organizational dynamics that support or constrain your efforts to operate and improve your security function.

About the Author: Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. Mr. Bernard has also provided pivotal strategic and technical advice in the security and building automation industries for more than 23 years. He is founder and publisher of The Security Minute 60-second newsletter ( For more information about Ray Bernard and RBCS go to or call 949-831-6788. Mr. Bernard is also a member of the Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council.

About the Author

Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III

Ray Bernard, PSP CHS-III, is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (, a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. He has been a frequent contributor to Security Business, SecurityInfoWatch and STE magazine for decades. He is the author of the Elsevier book Security Technology Convergence Insights, available on Amazon. Mr. Bernard is an active member of the ASIS member councils for Physical Security and IT Security, and is a member of the Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council (

Follow him on LinkedIn:

Follow him on Twitter: @RayBernardRBCS.