Being the new guy
This is part 2 of a multi part series of articles on working as a modern door supervisor. In the first article we looked at the qualities and behaviours expected of the modern door supervisor. In this article I would like to take a look at what you can expect as a new entrant to the door security industry. For those of you just completing your training or seeking employment this article is aimed at you. For the more experienced door supervisors reading this hopefully it brings back some memories for you and remind you that all of us had to start somewhere.
The new job
You have just passed your training course, got your shiny new door supervisor licence, sent out the CV’s, done the interviews and have been lucky enough to get a job on the security team in a nightclub.
Firstly, it is really important to remember not to confuse your recent training course with what you can expect once you start work. The door supervisor training course is an entry level course which has provided you with the basic knowledge and skills to equip you to “begin” working in the industry under supervision. It means that you have been able to apply the basic skills of door security in the controlled environment of a classroom and are competent to begin working at an entry level. It is not a substitute or a replacement for on the job training, experience, supervision or guidance. This is not me knocking the door supervisor training course. I have written and delivered door security training for new entrants for many years and I believe it is essential that good quality training such as this is provided to every person before they enter the industry. It’s just important to put this training into context and recognise it as preparation for the real thing not a replica. I tell this to every hopeful door supervisor student on every single course I run and to tell them otherwise would be putting their safety at risk.
So your first night has arrived and you are getting ready for work. What advice have I got for you?
- Be prepared
- Be well presented
- Be early
You are naturally going to be nervous as you would be in any new job especially if you have no experience in the industry. You are going into a brand new environment and working with a new group of people so follow the 3 steps above to give yourself the best chance of success from the start. You would be shocked at the amount of people I have seen show up on their first night late, in the wrong uniform or even arriving at the wrong venue (this actually happened).
Working in a team
The security team in a nightclub is like any team in any workplace. It will be made of different personalities, attitudes and backgrounds. There will be people who are just there to collect a pay check, some who are there because they love the work, some who are lazy and some who have a real interest and passion. There will be introverts, extroverts, jokers and bullies This is not a slight on the industry. You will find this same mix of people in any factory, office, construction site or sports team anywhere in the world. Mixed in with these there will also be some real professionals at the top of their profession who others will look up to. These are the people you should watch and observe. On your first night you also have a role to play; you’re the new guy.
Being the new guy
(Use of the term “guy” here is not meant as a slight to the ladies working in the industry. It is however a predominantly male dominated area and its easier for me to relate to my own experiences by using the male term)
As the new guy it’s your job to watch, listen, ask questions and learn. You will probably be placed in a position with not too much risk or responsibility on your first night. This can make you feel slightly undervalued but don’t take it personally as it’s a learning experience and the learning curve will get steep over the next few weeks believe me. The door security industry is an area where the trust and respect of your colleagues is earned through experience and attitude. This doesn’t mean you need to act like a tough guy or a bully, just do the right thing as best you can. Be proactive, be professional, ask the right questions and be there when your needed. Nobody is expecting you to be an expert or anything close to it as the new guy. Over time you will become as respected as any other member of the team who shows the same level of interest and professionalism.
A quick note on war stories to prepare you. The nightclub environment is an alpha male dominated area (with a little piece of female influence to keep the common sense levels stable) and as such it contains a few egos and reputations. This is nothing to be scared of as the new guy and it’s a fairly natural occurrence in any workplace filled with these personality types. Most of these guys are absolute gents (and ladies) who would risk their own safety for others every time they go to work, but they do like to tell their war stories from time to time (I’m as guilty of this as anybody at times). War stories are these exaggerated tales which are for the most part based on real life events but have had extra bits added every time the story is told until eventually the guys involved sound almost superhuman to you. They are generally based around violent incidents, accidents or injuries that have happened previously. They can range from dangerous and terrifying to hilarious and embarrassing and should always be taken with a pinch of salt. When you hear the story of the incident Billy the door supervisor had with the 150kg bodybuilding ninja or the time the venue was so full the walls almost burst just remember that sometimes war stories happen. They are not meant to be deceptive or malicious, just good humoured tales of caution (usually with a moral or lesson to be learned) with some added ego and sensationalism.
Back to your first night on the job.
You are sure to be nervous and adrenaline will be pumping once you get there. Try to relax. It won’t always be as easy as your first night. I mentioned earlier that you should be prepared when you arrive at work. You’re probably still asking yourself; “prepare for what?”.
- Prepare for a long night on your feet in a hot, noisy cramped environment (you get used to the heat and the noise very quickly don’t worry).
- Prepare to be put in a position with not much happening for your first few shifts. As I said before it’s not personal it’s just practical as far as the rest of the team are concerned. It won’t be forever.
- Prepare to ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy. Asking questions of those more experienced is the best way to learn in any job.
- Most importantly be prepared to analyse what you see and hear and make up your own mind. You will see, hear and learn lots of new skills and practices while you are the new guy. Unfortunately, you will also see some bad habits and unprofessional behaviour and things that just should not be happening in the industry. If it doesn’t look or feel right to you it probably isn’t so don’t copy it. After a short time, you will figure out who the good guys are and learn from these. Believe me you will learn far more from an experienced mentor in door security than you will from a lifetime of war stories.
Finally, be prepared to enjoy yourself. What’s the point in starting a new job if you don’t enjoy the experience?
The door security industry I know can be a really rewarding place to work. Like any industry it has its negative aspects and it does contain people who give it a bad name but they are a small minority. The vast majority of people you will meet are genuine professionals many of whom will go on to lifelong friends (Most of the people I would consider my closest friends are those I have stood beside on a nightclub door at some stage). So go into your first night with a positive mind-set and don’t worry about being the new guy. We were all that guy once and it doesn’t last forever.
In the next article we will look at the basics of working inside the club and how good door supervisors make it look so easy and others don’t.