Teamwork, Part I


Author: Jim Goding (Las-Vegas, USA)
Russian translation: Vadym Barsukov (Ukraine)

The most important thing that makes a successful Surveillance or Security Department is teamwork. The successful department not only operates as a coherent team internally, but also contributes and works well, as a team, with all of the other departments in the casino and hotel.

This does not make less of the individual contributions of skilled investigators. It makes them even more important: how else can a new operator learn his trade than by working as a team with skilled people who are willing to help train, share knowledge, and bring others up to speed? How can a skilled investigator do his job without the support of other members of his own team and information provided from outside?

Relatively new investigators want to contribute, and it is very important that they know that they have contributed. Acknowledgement of contributions is as important as the fact itself. For a senior investigator or supervisor to take all the credit for a successful investigation¾to deny the contributions of others, however minor¾is to cut down the enthusiasm and willingness of other people, and make them unwilling to work with him, as well.

Even worse is the senior investigator or supervisor who blames an unsuccessful investigation on the shortcoming of his juniors. After all, it is the supervisor who is responsible for training, and if the junior fails to properly focus a camera, or get a good shot because he doesn’t know the best camera to use, or fails to properly report what he has seen, or any of the other things that new people or even experienced operators can do, it is ultimately the responsibility of the senior or supervisor.

Outside the department, working with the managers of other departments is vital. Surveillance Managers and supervisors should be able to instantly (where required) report, or on command channels when instant action is not necessary, to Security Shift bosses, Pit Managers, Casino Managers, Slots Managers and so on, and have their data used to advantage to protect the casino and its patrons.

A lack of teamwork in this area comes in when managers, for one reason or another, fear Surveillance. They feel that reports from Surveillance are attacks on their personnel, and will refuse to provide needed information to the Surveillance Department. This usually happens as a result of one or both of two things: long-standing abuse of command chains by unskilled Surveillance personnel, or managerial personnel in other departments who are themselves on the take.

It also happens that managers will sometimes feel that Surveillance, the unseen watcher, will show up areas where they have not effectively managed¾untrained or unqualified personnel, or areas that have been ignored¾and make them look bad in the eyes of the higher management. This in fact results from a lack of teamwork attitude both in Surveillance and in the other managers. It is a truly vicious circle, feeding on itself.

It can get to the point where departmental managers will attempt to direct the attention of Surveillance away from certain areas by feeding false information (sometimes through other personnel), or even by sacrificing members of their own or other departments. This last, however, is an indication to Surveillance that the manager who has done so, if not completely mistaken about the false information he has given, is hiding something serious.

Remember that anyone, especially a manager, who deliberately feeds false information to Surveillance is not attempting to work as part of a team. He is trying to do two things: discredit Surveillance, and hide something by misdirecting their attention.

A manager who feels that reports from Surveillance are attacks on his own personnel has not understood either the purpose of surveillance¾protecting the assets and liabilities of the company¾or that he is expected to use the information provided by Surveillance reports to fine-tune his own organization. Surveillance reports are used to locate areas where closer supervision is needed or where weak spots need to be eliminated either by training or by disciplinary action.

A proper Surveillance report is not an attack or an accusation: it is a bare statement of fact, backed up by videotaped and/or documented evidence. Forwarded to the proper managerial personnel on command lines, it shows both the upper management and the departmental manager where changes may need to occur. Period.

This applies both to daily routine reports and to the results of major investigations. If an area or a person receives too many reports, something needs to change.

Ideally, the Surveillance Director or manager and his immediate juniors have very close communication lines with other departments. A verbal report (duly logged in the daily report) from a Supervisor to a Shift Boss on a minor infraction of procedure is taken as intended, and the staff member involved is corrected. A larger infraction results in a report forwarded through the Surveillance Manager on command channels and a return report from the manager involved on what has been done to correct the situation, whether training or discipline. Major situations may involve senior management, more departments, wider investigations, and even training or discipline of the departmental managers.

When properly conducted and implemented, these major investigations still have the same intent and effect as the most minor procedural infraction report: improvement of the department involved, tighter discipline, better trained staff. This results in increased income through fewer losses and better customer service.

In the reverse, managers from other departments feel confident that information provided to Surveillance will not result in arbitrary disciplinary actions or erroneous reports or vendettas. Surveillance, in order to do its part, needs information on personnel, departmental procedures and rules, and definitely needs information when situations require departures from the rules. Without that information, Surveillance is effectively crippled, and its reports, based on a lack of information, turn accusatory. They seem like attacks, because they are based on a lack of understanding of what is happening out there. The department manager (hopefully) knows what is going on, but because of lacking information, the Surveillance operators and supervisors do not.

A free flow of information, both ways, is necessary. However, this does not mean that operational information (such as details on camera coverage, schedules, identities of surveillance personnel, etc.) is released to other departments. These confidential items are a part of the effectiveness of Surveillance, which must remain, to all but senior management, unseen.


Copyright original English version © 1998, 2002 by Jim Goding;
Copyright translated version in Russian © 2003 by Vadym Barsukov.
English version published on this site by permission of Jim Goding. Translated and published by Vadym Barsukov, with permission by the author Jim Goding.
All rights reserved. Duplication in any form, electronic or otherwise, without the express written permission of the author is forbidden, is a violation of the proprietary rights of the author and is actionable under law.