The dynamics of team communication determine how you interface with your professional environment. Your skills in communicating with your Executive Protection team, your principal and the key stakeholders in your company, will
directly translate to the trust and competence you relay to the people you work with and for. In this course, Christian West breaks down some of the practical fundamentals of effective team communication.
- Communication devices – The technical mediums typically used within EP teams
- Radio Comms – Direct, person to person, and inter-team communications
- Cell phone comms – Talk, talk and email communications
- Satellite communications – Tips for deploying sat phones and establishing reliable SOPs
- Team Dynamics – Professionalizing your communication strategies to maximize your effectiveness and developing your reputation as a good communicator.
When working in Executive Protection, the most common form of communication is via handheld radio on any team with more than one agent. They provide the ability to instantly communicate situational awareness to the other members of the team. Radios are typically reliable and provide the fastest means of passing information within the team. However, to be a truly effective communicator on the radio requires skill, discretion and an understand of not only the strengths of radio comms, but also their limitations. Mastering talking on the radio is one of the first steps to becoming an effective team communicator.
- Your radio MUST BE ON YOU! – Radio up before each shift
- Ensure your battery is fully charged and carry a spare battery
- Radio must be properly programmed with preset channels
- It is your responsibility to understand all radio functions, knobs and buttons.
- Connect all peripheral devices such as headset, push-to-talk kit.
- Capabilities of radios exist on a spectrum from the most basic short range, personal two-way hand sets to long range, multi-channel, digitally encrypted devices.
Talking on the Radio
- Radios are the fastest way to communicate with the team over distance
- Messages should be brief, clear, and concise.
- Teams should develop a commonality of language/abbreviations/acronyms
- In the absence of encryption teams should develop code words in the interest of discretion.
Cell phones have become a universal presence in modern life. They have reached astonishing levels of technical advancement. As an EP agent, they ways cell phones can be used to leveraged to maximize productivity and communications is seemingly endless. However, like many solutions, there are also tradeoffs. In this section we narrow the focus on utilizing the device as originally intended: Talk, text, and email.
Talking on the phone
- Making or taking phone calls provides direct person to person as well as multiperson (conference) calling.
- Accessibility – Phone calls only work if the situation allows it. There may circumstances such as being in the presence of the client or while driving that you cannot speak on the phone.
- In a world where everybody in is on their phone, not being on the phone tends stand to out. This can be used to your advantage while trying to blend in.
- Going hands-free – Using a headset or wireless earbuds are a great tool for being more discreet as keeping your hands free for multi-tasking.
- Appearances – Be mindful and use good judgment when using your phone in view of clients and staff; they aren’t always happy to see an agent who’s “always on their phone”, even if you’re handling team business.
- Pro-Tips – Have a spare battery and or a secondary power source in addition to your charging cable. EP agents rely heavily on their phones and may be unable to stop while constantly on the go.
- It may also be a good practice to have a second phone that you can have filter between voice calling and text/email applications.
- Batteries! – Keep them charged. Keep a spare. Have a backup power source.
- Keep spare accessories (wireless earbuds/wired earbuds, chargers…)
Texting – Is quickly becoming the primary method of communication for many agents and key stakeholders. Texting has many advantages such as flexibility with timing of
sending and receiving messages, the amount you of info you can send to multiple recipients and the ability to send images and video.
- Limitations – Texting is slower than using the radio and requires your hands be occupied.
- When texting, an agent’s eyes and attention are diverted from the situational environment limiting awareness.
- Sometimes, its simply better to pick up the phone and call.
- Texting Skills
- Keep messages short and concise
- Utilize code phrases, preset messages and responses to quickly provide updates and situational awareness.
- Setup teammates for success by carefully structuring your text comms.
- Focus on clarity. Avoid ambiguity. Enable decision making.
- Discretion – Be discreet whenever practical, both for appearances and privacy.
- Avoid sending sensitive or confidential information whenever possible.
- Utilize encrypted messaging apps if practical and where allowed by law. (Some foreign countries limit encrypted apps by law)
Satellite Phones – Typically used for emergency use. May also be used in remote locations where cell phone coverage is limited/restricted.
- Spend time familiarizing yourself with device features, functions, troubleshooting steps
- Verify comms uplink regularly (schedule periodic comms checks)
- Be aware of boot-up times and link-up times (Could take up to 30 minutes)
- Verify connectivity in all regions of travel.
Your commutation style be unique to you and will develop over time as you gain experience. But remember that it is a skill like any other and will require time and effort to master. In this section we well focus on a few fundamentals which should you serve you well and help you avoid feeling lost or unsure of what to say and when to say it.
- Speak UP! – If you see or hear something you think may require attention, call it out.
- If you are told something or given instructions you do not understand, ask for clarification immediately.
- Under-communication is far more often a bigger problem than overcommunication!
- If you are delivering information, be sure to ask for feedback to be certain you message is clearly understood… This closes the feedback loop so you can be confident you are communicating effectively with your team.
- Communications Should Be:
- Timely – Speak up early. Delaying addressing a problem limits options in the best case and in the worst case completely compromise an operation.
- Actionable – Enable decision maker to take appropriate action and should include a suggested course of action.
The key to this section comes down to one word: “Professionalism”. Be mindful of the job at hand, conduct yourself professionally and avoid the pitfalls of sloppy speech and behavior when communicating with the team, the client and the people around you.
Internal Team Communications – Focus on quality over quantity.
- Gossip and rumors are toxic to team chemistry and cohesion and ultimately undermine trust and effectiveness.
- Think before you speak! Know what you want to say, the purpose of the message and the outcome you are seeking to achieve before you ‘send it’.
- Know your audience – Tailor your message for your target audience.
- Active Listening – Processing incoming info with intention and genuine understanding
External Communications – Use sound judgment and the filter of professionalism for all forms communication that include persons beyond the four walls of your team.
- Video calls – Be brief; avoid being overly conversational.
- Professional appearance and background (surrounding)
- Three final keys to communications
- Honesty – Speak in good faith.
- Only say what you know to be true.
- Always do what you say will you will do
- Do not embellish or withhold information
- Recognize there may be things you may not know
- Realize others may know more than you, even junior team members
- Think before you speak
- Active Listening – Seek first to understand, than to be understood.
- Listen with intent
- Provide feedback
- Close the communication loop – verify message received and understood.
- Honesty – Speak in good faith.