There are many skills that you need in event safety and as the role has moved on during my time the list increases.
Some of these skills people have and they may just need sharpening. Other skills are hidden and they need to be coaxed out. Some need to be taught.
Personally speaking I have always said and indeed will always say so long as you have the basic building blocks then I can train and teach the rest.
So what are the skills:
- Customer Service
- Observation skills
- Tact and diplomacy
- A good sense of humour
- An ability to not take things personally
The above is not an exhaustive list but if you can say that you have the above then you certainly have the building blocks that I am referring to.
So, let's take each of these one at a time.
When I first started in Event Safety I was taught that I was there for safety and security and not customer service. My job was to make sure that everything was safe and if that meant being blunt then so be it.
Nowadays though the accepted thinking is dramatically different. In 99% of events an attendees first interaction with a representative of the event is when they interact with event safety and security staff.
That first interaction can set the tone. By using your customer service skills, greeting the attendee, responding to there questions and indeed being proactive and advising where points of interest are you can effect the mood of that attendee.
If they enter the event in a good mood and can see the human side of event safety staff then if you do need to challenge them later there is a better chance that you will get a positive outcome.
For event safety and security staff these are very important and are definitely one that will need sharpening and focusing.
From the moment you arrive at the event site to the moment that you leave you will use your powers of observation.
This can be from doing pre event checks, to watching a queue of arriving attendees, to monitoring an area or group of attendees to the post event checks.
As time goes on you will learn to read people and there body language. You can even get to the point where you know what that person is thinking at pretty much the same time as they do.
This is not a skill that can be taught from a book but through experience. I can teach the signs to look for based on my experience and indeed will do.
Tact and Diplomacy
There are occasions where you will need to use both of these in dealing with certain circumstances. If you are not capable of using these skills then it will hamper your ability to do the job.
If you embarrass an attendee then this can come back on you and can cause them to become aggressive and for a situation to escalate.
A good sense of humour
Now it probably won't surprise you to read that this is one that I can't train. I can't teach you to have a good sense of humour.
It does help you to do the job though and so I have included it on the list.
This sits side by side with your customer service skills and can be invaluable in building a rapport with attendees.
Also, at times it can help defuse situations especially if you are able to laugh at yourself.
This is very important. There are times when you want to go into a situation to deal with it but in doing so you could make it worse. It can be because to go in on your own would put you at risk or you have to wait for CCTV resource or Police backup.
Sometimes it can be that an attendee has caught your eye but they haven't stepped far enough over the line to warrant action being taken against them yet. You know what is about to happen but you have to let it play out.
I once spent a whole football match watching an attendee that I knew had snuck alcohol into the stand. I knew I had seen it but I had to wait to see it again before I reported it just in case I was wrong. There are after all some soft drinks that are served in green bottles.
When the event finished I went straight to that persons seat and sure enough there was the alcohol. It turns out I had seen him drinking the last dregs of his beer.
An ability to not take things personally and professionalism
I've included these together as what I have to say about them is pretty much the same.
There will be times when you will have attendees get in your face. They will be rude to you, make suggestions about your parentage and call you a jobsworth and worse besides.
Football fans have a song that they like to sing to you about getting a proper job.
As much as these insults can be personal and they do hurt you cannot take them that way. You have to let it go and move on with your job.
Of course that does not apply to anything that can be construed as of a racial or homophobic nature. This is never acceptable and anyone engaging in this should be dealt with immediately.
I have had times where people have spent most of the game watching me rather then the game that they originally purchased there ticket for. It happens.
Especially during high stakes games when fans are tense the steward in the fluorescent jacket that it asking them to comply with the ground regulations is the straw that breaks the camels back and you cop it.
If it is excessive or as I said above of a racial or homophobic nature then the person has to go but you have to deal with it professionally and within the rules.
When I teach and train event staff these are the things that I focus on. I also encourage reflective learning. Review your performance and ask yourself could you have dealt with every situation you were involved in today differently. Would you knowing the outcome do it differently?
Even after all of my years involved in event safety I still reflect on each event and pick up on things that I could improve on.