My upbringing was a little different to that of my friends. I was a young teenager in the ’80s, when hair was backcombed high and shoulder pads were “in.” My mum was constantly being confused as the pop star Cher. With her similar hair, makeup, heels and great outfits, people would stop her and ask for her autograph. She certainly did not fit in to any type of normal mother mold I saw around me. I’m proud to say, she is now 67 and still does not fit in to what the average woman her age should look like or do.
Years later, I realized the wisdom of her stance against “fitting in.” Having worked in the ethics and compliance field for 20 years, I now understand how much compliance is not about “fitting in.” Indeed, it’s the exact opposite. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the “norm” in many countries would be seen as unscrupulous to many. We have seen it with the politicians in Brazil recently with Petrobas case. We have seen it on our own doorstep with the Panama papers, in which almost every country you can think of seems to have been touched. And we see it everyday with the prosecutions by the numerous regulators around the world. Fitting in does not work.
NOT fitting in means being unreasonable. Compliance needs to stand out and rebrand itself. Many of my clients tell me that they are queuing up to make their training/communications/projects front of house. They have to stand in line behind safety, security, sales, innovation and the countless other serious and important issues a company needs to address. That’s why it’s important NOT to fit in.
That’s why I consider that one of the greatest achievements of any compliance professional is to stand out — to avoid standing in line and being “just another” email to read or training or certificate to complete.
Here are some of the ways I use to skip the queue and get to the front line of people’s compliance vision:
Make compliance a part of business rather than an addition to it
Okay, this may seem like fitting in, but bear with me. Let’s dissect some of the key messages we like to disseminate to people about compliance. Such as:
- Check more
- Ask more questions
- Don’t take people at face value
- Save costs (we all know how bribery can rack up costs)
- Report issues
- Speak with management
I am sure most people would agree that these messages are integral to operations, sales, procurement, HR, safety and many other departments.
So why not make compliance communication and training part of sales or leadership training? Or perhaps just simply ask businesses about their key message drivers and challenges and add a few relevant slides or a short video to a pre-planned team meeting or training session.
At the beginning of each class, my yoga teacher asks whether we would rather feel pain for the next 90 minutes or 90 years? It’s an exaggeration, but it works to focus me on the class. The same applies to compliance. We’re curious beings. Whenever someone asks or tells us something, whether reading or speaking, we constantly internally question the information we are receiving. You’re probably doing it now!
If my yoga teacher can hold the attention of a room full of people for 90 minutes, why not try the same method and get people’s compliance attention for five or 10 minutes? Answer their “why” about compliance up front. Why should they care?
Use the power of 3
Communicate like an advertiser, marketer or filmmaker. We are so saturated with information in our personal and work lives that our attention spans have reduced significantly to try to filter out the waste of time from the need to know. The time we have to grab people’s attention is getting shorter and shorter. According to data from the Statistic Brain Research Institute, people have an attention span of less than three minutes when watching videos. Compliance training and communications must adapt accordingly. Long, drawn-out click mouse training or wordy PowerPoint presentations no longer “cut it” in today’s environment.
The power of three is, of course, something filmmakers have known for years. Think of all the film trilogies out there and the film titles with three in them (there are hundreds).
If you want to stand out, think Steve Jobs meets YouTube. Punchy slides and short, engaging, bite-sized videos with three to five messages will captivate your audience and spark their interest for more compliance.
In essence, jumping the queue to make compliance “front of mind” means being quirky, a little different and thinking outside the compliance box. I would love to hear the methods you use to stand out in compliance.