When mission creep leads to the detail crypt

We can all agree that there is a certain level of customer service that is needed to maintain client/protectee satisfaction.  We are constantly making sure that we are doing is meeting client/principal expectations so that the end result is maintaining that relationship and steady work.  Detail leaders and company owners often have to micro-manage the mission expectations with individual specialists that want to venture off that paved road.

What happens is that you will have a specialist that is more concerned about themselves over the company and the detail.  They begin purposely doing other non-mission tasks to ingratiate themselves to the principal.  This over zealous attempt to increase customer satisfaction can and will destroy a detail, and the service provider.  It is vitally imperative that company owners articulate expectations and deliverables to every specialist on the detail.  If you leave any area unaddressed you leave it to the discretion of the specialist or team.  That is NOT where you want to be.  ROE’s [rules of engagement] have to be clearly defined.  Mission standards are the responsibility of each and every person on the detail.  The detail leader has the daily responsibility of managing that.  As soon as he/she recognizes mission creep they have to put a stop to it immediately.

Mission creep is a disease that will infect everyone at a fast rate.  Once it has started to infect the detail, the expectations will start to change with everyone working the detail.  Here is a classic example: You just safely transported your protectee to his/her office and they are safe within the office space where the security process is set up that no one can get to him/her without having an appointment.  The executive assistant then tells the CEO [your principal] that his 1100 appointment will be delayed because his ride from the airport can not make it.  The specialist assigned for the day volunteers to leave the office and get the individual from the airport.  The principal says it is ok.  The principal always feels they are safe in their office, yet your mission responsibility is to always be with them throughout the day.  That one instance has caused mission creap.  Every time there is a situation where they can use you while they are in the office, they will.  The next specialist that takes a hard stance about leaving the office will be viewed as insubordinate if they can not articulate why he/she should not leave.

That is just one example of mission creep but the most common is when specialists try to become friends with the protectee.  That is the most classic example.  Personal conversations detailing their own lives or asking the principal about personal things are the biggest issues when it comes to specialists that lack proper mindset.  I always avoid being in their personal space.  I decline invitations to personal or family events because I don’t ever want them to feel that I am comfortable crossing that professional/private line.  Many of you won’t see anything wrong with going, but once you do, the relationship has changed. and the detail starts on that road to the detail crypt.


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  1. Simon Philibert

    That’s the way I learned.. Not to avoid discussions but to keep it professional. To keep my answers short & simple if my client’s asking me a question. It’s not free time with a good friend but a job! I think exactly the way you do about the family events too.. Sure you don’t want to look rude by declining the offer but you need to focus on the job first. Never be too close of your client. It will possibly affect your judgement..

    1. Eric Konohia

      You are in the minority.

  2. Jon Tipper

    Eric – great post. I learned the hard way when I transitioned from the detail to a management role and I put my hands up in saying that I failed to recognise it. I had guys who would be bending over backwards to go that extra mile in non detail related requests for principals and it did harm (thankfully not irreparably) the overall contract.

    Team members are briefed regularly now and new guys coming on board are told right from the start to remain focussed on the job at hand and not to lose that focus by going off task”. That is not to say that I want them to be offhand or ignorant with their principals but rather that customer service and maintaining that client relationship remain with me as the senior Director on the ground and the company owner above me.

    Don’t learn the hard way as I did; if it doesn’t trash our detail as you rightly state, it will take you months to put things right.

    1. Eric Konohia

      You are absolutely right Jon. I had to blog again today to further define what I meant by mission creep because it seemed to be misinterpreted.

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