When things go wrong…

“In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test.

In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

Since the beginning, the goal of this blog has been to inform and educate. Every post – even the humorous ones – seeks to shed a little light on the mindset and planning that go into working as a Security Staffer, Security Manager, or Bar/Nightclub/Restaurant Owner. To that end, the majority of the posts have dealt with the positives or at least prepping for the negatives in order to prevent or avoid them. This time around, the approach is a little different. We’re going to tackle – in a manner of speaking – the negatives. Those nights on which NOTHING seems to go right.

No matter what your line of work, you will experience a bad day. It may be an angry patron or manager or a disgruntled co-worker that just made things unbearable. Maybe all the credit card machines die right in the middle of a huge holiday season shopping rush. Maybe a bus full of tourists stops in front of your ice cream stand at the very moment your co-worker is at lunch, the manager is out sick, and you are the only one behind the counter. You get the idea: work days aren’t always picture perfect. 


Most people would approach bad days in this manner: What went wrong and how do we fix it? It is a great approach but I believe that the rectification of any problem needs to start before the problem occurs. Actually, I would suggest that problem days should be approached BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER they occur. I’m sure that some of you are scratching your heads and thinking, “How the heck do I solve a problem BEFORE it occurs!?” Bear with me for a second.


The letters above are not a typo. They are an acronym known as “the 7 Ps”, and they stand for “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”. In other words, preparing for the worst will help you deal with the worst when it occurs. In most cases, poor planning and poor preparation will directly result in “a bad day at the office.” Did you only schedule four Staffers on a three day weekend when your club is historically known to be over capacity? Did you place an inexperienced ID checker at the door during College Night? The reason that you should use Checklists, run Scenarios, discuss Ejections, and double check your Scheduling is to MINIMIZE the potential for things to go wrong.

That is not to say that planning in advance will prevent problems from occurring. German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke stated, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” and he was pretty much spot on. Because no matter how well you plan, something can always go wrong. Fully staffed on a holiday weekend? Guess what, your Head of Security just got food poisoning. About to eject a Patron? Oh, you didn’t realize that he and his friends are UFC fighters? Have the Front Door under control? Wait, where did those 3 party buses full of drunken football fans come from? What to do, what to do?


If you do find yourself in the middle of a no good, very bad day….STOP. That’s right. STOP. Stop what you are doing and take a deep breath. As an old instructor of mine said, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” Don’t run around in a panic. Don’t start screaming at the Staff. Definitely don’t starting swinging at the UFC guys. STOP. Evaluate the situation. Decide on a plan of attack. Rushing to fix a problem may in many cases make things WORSE. A pause in the action to regroup, rethink, and then approach the problem with a fresh head will very rarely make things worse. Try the new approach and see what happens, you might be surprised at how well it works.

Just remember that sometimes, no matter what you do, no matter how well you’ve planned, no matter how patiently you’ve reassessed your position, the problem can’t, won’t, or doesn’t resolve itself. You know what? THAT’S ALRIGHT. It is not going to be fun dealing with the ongoing problem or the aftermath, but that is part of working any job. Just as long as you have put your best foot forward and at least attempted to resolve the issue! Sometimes that horse is too far down the road to stop. Wait for it to come back and deal with it on the back end.


If something has gone wrong in spite of your planning, you’ve approached the fix calmly and patiently, and things still completely collapsed – or resolved themselves – sit back over the next few days and process it all. First off, it is alright to be disappointed in yourself, your staff, the computers, whatever. Things happen and not always good things. You can’t win every battle. Remember, if challenges could always be overcome, they would cease to be challenges. It is how you approach your mistakes and your failures that will help to define you and make you a better employee, manager, owner, and yes…a better person. 

Think back on your planning. Is there something you would have changed with the benefit of hindsight? Ask your manager if they have suggestions. Get together with your Staffers and discuss the problems and how they could have been either anticipated or dealt with in a more efficient manner. Part of being a great boss is being a great mentor. Let your employees know where they (or you!) have failed and what they (or you!) can do to improve the next time around. When life give you a test and you fail – or barely pass – don’t fixate on the outcome, focus on the solution and move forward. 

Until next time….

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