How Do You Manage Staff Misconduct Overseas?

Verity Stiff

by Verity Stiff

Former Head of People & Organisational Development at the CHS Alliance

I recently joined a group of professionals working with staff deployed internationally at the fourth conference on duty of care: protecting workers and students overseas. How would you manage a staff member overseas who refused to attend daily compulsory security briefings? This was the scenario I put to the two sessions I chaired on managing misconduct overseas.

I recently joined a group of professionals working with staff deployed internationally at the fourth conference on duty of care: protecting workers and students overseas.

How would you manage a staff member overseas who refused to attend daily compulsory security briefings? This was the scenario I put to the two sessions I chaired on managing misconduct overseas.

The two groups approached the problem from different angles. All participants agreed that daily briefings might be necessary at times because of political situations, violence, crime, or terrorist threats.

One group felt the risk posed was such an unacceptable threat to the the individual, other staff members and the organisation’s reputation, that he or she should be sent home if they refused to comply. Some raised concerns about the effect the individual’s behaviour could have on other staff members; the more senior the person, the more important it is that they set a good example.

The other group preferred taking the proactive route of conducting security training for those on overseas assignments that highlighted the importance of following security protocols. It was important to have training tailored to the specific setting to avoid the view that: “I’ve lived overseas before so I don’t need security training or briefings”.

Tips for managing misconduct overseas

  1. Make sure that you get the right person for the right job to begin with. Ensure you take into account experiences of living in different places not just technical competencies during the recruitment phase.
  2. Capitalise on the knowledge you’ve got in-house by asking senior staff who are experienced at working in the context to be part of the induction process so they can relay real-life scenarios to new staff members.
  3. Ensure security training is tailored to the specifics of the local situation. Capitalise on local knowledge and ensure you have constant updates of the necessary security protocol and share these with staff.
  4. Consider writing into the contract or code of conduct an obligation to attend security briefings if the situation warrants it.
  5. Ensure the organisational culture promotes good behaviour across the whole organisation. Make it clear that protocols apply to everyone no matter how experienced or senior they are.
  6. Ensure the lines of responsibility for managing the security protocol are clear to all staff. In a small office, this might be the country manager if there is no on-site security manager.

The risks of not following a security protocol can result in everything from bag snatching to kidnapping, injury or even death. It’s important for all staff to remember that a security incident can occur at any time and for anyone. No one’s safety can be guaranteed if basic protocol isn’t followed.

Security situations can also change rapidly even within a country or a city in a short space of time; this can also mean the situation improves.

What are your tips for managing staff misconduct overseas and how have you dealt wth similar situations? Please share your thought below in the comments section.