Magazine article Talent Development

Compliance Training Doesn't Have to Be Boring: A Good (Dramatic) Story That Illustrates Why Compliance Is Important Will Accomplish Your Goals

Magazine article Talent Development

Compliance Training Doesn't Have to Be Boring: A Good (Dramatic) Story That Illustrates Why Compliance Is Important Will Accomplish Your Goals

Article excerpt

You may have heard someone say, "Compliance doesn't make money for the company," but potential costs of failing to comply can make a culture of compliance and the training it takes to support it look like a bargain: BP focused on saving time and money, putting safety on the back burner; Wells Fargo was fined $100 million for focusing on profit with no apparent concern for compliance; workers at the National Security Agency and Booz Allen Hamilton failed to notice or report red flags that could have prevented NSA contractor Harold R. Martin III from stealing immense quantities of classified information and materials. Volkswagen, GM, and Enron all have incurred major fines due to ethical failings. The list is practically endless.

In many organizations, experienced employees, often members of senior leadership, have heard the compliance training pitch dozens of times and don't feel a need to hear it again. Therefore, they provide the minimum acceptable level of compliance training to "check the box." Some don't realize that compliance training is required because failure to comply can result in catastrophic outcomes. Money, careers, companies, and lives can be at stake if compliance isn't an integral part of corporate culture.

The U.S. government will not do business with companies that don't protect sensitive information they develop and control. Our customers trust BAE Systems to provide advanced solutions uncompromised because the company has a remarkable record of performance in security. Defense Security Services assesses the security posture of defense contractor facilities every year. Possible assessment outcomes are superior, commendable, satisfactory, marginal, and unacceptable. About 40 percent of all cleared contractor facilities receive superior or commendable ratings. During the past five years, more than 90 percent of BAE Systems' facilities have received superior or commendable scores.

Security training provides a consistent message across the enterprise about what we expect of our employees and has played a significant role in establishing a culture of compliance-but it's only part of the picture. We have achieved amazing results because leadership realizes a security failure could damage our customers' trust-even eventually putting us out of business. Thus, leadership supports context-centered training, which takes time, effort, and creativity to develop and present.

Focus on the why

In the earlier examples, compliance rules were ignored, making life "interesting" for corporate executives, employees, and customers. Lessons were learned, but they were lessons that already had been learned and codified in policies and procedures. If our training doesn't reinforce a culture of compliance, motivating employees to comply with policies because "it's just the way we do things here" has been time wasted. When training focuses on content without fully explaining why compliance is important, the lessons are likely to be ignored.

How do we ensure training has the desired impact? Develop objectives toward which every aspect of the lesson must point. In many areas of compliance, our objectives boil down to three things: know the rules, follow the rules, and report instances of noncompliance when you notice them. To engage our learners, we must focus on why compliance is important.

Emotions matter

Adults don't learn well if they're doing it only because it's required. They need to understand the importance of what they're being asked to learn, and we must ensure that our training is, to quote Michael Allen's Guide to e-Learning, "meaningful, memorable, and motivational." If the presenter isn't interested, the students won't care either. In infomercials, spokespeople appear to be rapturously excited about a chamois cloth or caulk because being excited about the product works. So get excited about compliance.

But content alone won't excite anyone. …

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