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Successful Training Techniques

by Barry Thompson

The typical mandatory security training program often begins with groans from all participants, but I've found there are actually ways to make the experience enjoyable. Here are two ideas I've used successfully many times.

One of the greatest training vehicles I've used in my twenty-two year career as a bank security officer is the scenario of "capturing" employees: Although main office and branch personnel often pay lip service to the importance of the morning warning system, how many of them really know how it should work? For this particular exercise, I first go to the targeted office before it opens and change the morning warning signal. (If you're doing the training and you can't gain entry to the building, wait for your opening team to arrive and then change the signal.) I then start taking staff members "hostage" as they enter work; of course, I don't physically touch or scare them - I just sit in a chair near the entry door waiting for them to arrive. The most effective thing I can say at this point is "Bang": victims always grimace. Many never forget the experience of being verbally shot while entering the financial institution.

Taking someone hostage when they ignore the standard morning warning system will provide you with a legitimate and compelling reason to train someone who doesn't want to be trained, as in, "Remember, Joe. I seem to have shot you last week, didn't I?" It's hard for staff to complain about having to attend training when they've demonstrated through their own actions that they actually need it.

Another useful way to train is to actually visit the teller line. Walk up to the teller who is going to perform your transaction and hand him/her a check. Ask the teller to point out the items that distinguish it as a check, or discuss the problems with counterfeit checks your institution is presently experiencing. You can also bring a check with you that you know is counterfeit-giving it to your front line staff to get their reaction to it.

It's also useful to create training scenarios that encourage tellers to ask account holders questions. During my training sessions, I've found that frontline staff members are often afraid to question account holders about where they obtained a particular check. Some tellers believe that this sort of thing really isn't their business, and they're reluctant to ask "personal" questions because they anticipate an unpleasant confrontation with the check holder. So, while you're at the teller line, ask the new teller how she would question an account holder about the origin of a check. If the office is quiet, ask the other tellers how they would handle the situation, and be ready to provide tips on how staff can ask difficult questions of your account holders. This is an effective means of making training fun on a quiet day in your financial institution.

Above all, no matter what training methods you use, make them enjoyable. It's easier for participants to remember something that is fun to learn rather than something they perceive as a time-wasting chore.

Copyright, 2009, Barry Thompson and the Thompson Consulting Group, LLC All rights reserved. Barry Thompson, CRCM, of Thompson Consulting Group, LLC a firm specializing in Physical Risk Assessments, Security Management and Financial Institution Training Programs, wrote this article. Barry can be contacted at or

Copyright, Bankers Online. First published on 6/15/09

First published on 06/15/2009

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