Compliance practitioners are continually tasked with
moving a company's culture of compliance forward. However, the day-to-day work
is sometimes too granular to see results. In an article in the January-February
issue of the Harvard Business Review,
Sustainable Performance", authors Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine
Porath explore some different techniques that managers can use to "help
employees thrive at work." They note that even in a down economy, thriving
employees out produce non-thriving employees. The authors defined 'thriving' as
employees who are not only "satisfied and productive but also engaged in
creating the future" for their organization. I thought about these concepts
within the context of promoting a culture of compliance within your
The authors posit that there are two components to such
thriving employees. They are vitality: "the sense of being alive, passionate
and excited" and learning: that being the "growth that comes from gaining new
knowledge and skills." These two concepts work in concert and lead to employees
who "deliver results and find ways to grow" on the job. Just think about the
power of these concepts if you could apply them to advancing your company's
compliance program. The authors list four steps that managers can take to help
employees thrive, which I have adapted for the goal of promoting compliance
within your company.
Provide decision making discretion. Here
the authors believe that employees will be energized if they can make decisions
which affect their work. For your compliance program, it means listening to and
working with your local employees to come up with better ways to implement and
enhance compliance. But you must take care not to cut back on empowerment
simply if a person makes a mistake. Such an eventuality can and should be used
as teaching opportunity.
Share information. People
will contribute to an organization more effectively when they understand how
their specific work fits within the company's overall mission and strategy. It
is difficult to look for innovative solutions if the impact cannot be seen.
Compliance should be open and transparent to allow employees to see the fruits
of their ideas and efforts as systems which make information widely available
should build trust and confidence.
This one should be held close by the lawyers in compliance and legal
departments. I do not mean yelling and screaming but taking the time to listen
and explain. As a lawyer, I sometimes revert to my legal training that all I
need to do is explain the rules and that should be enough for everyone to
understand. If employees face incivility the authors believe they are "likely
to narrow their focus to avoid risks and lose opportunities to learn in the
Offer performance feedback. The
authors believe that feedback is the mechanism by which opportunities for
learning are presented. Further, the more direct and the quicker the feedback
is presented to an employee, the more useful it is as it resolves feelings of
uncertainty and provides focus. This can help an employee get back on track or
provide the impetus to match a culture of compliance.
One of the significant factors for each of these four
mechanisms is that they do not require a substantial investment or enormous efforts.
It does require leadership to be open to empowering employees. The authors
conclude that these four mechanisms must be used in conjunction as each one
reinforces the other. But the results can be very helpful in moving your
company forward. In the 2012 economic climate putting such building blocks in
place can be a powerful tool for your compliance efforts going forward.
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© Thomas R. Fox, 2012
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