In Compliance Messaging, Let’s Accentuate the Positive

The mindset of the entrepreneur is optimism. Entrepreneurs truly seek out the opportunity in every challenge and obstacle. I saw the pandemic prompt so many clients and other entrepreneurs work eagerly to answer the following question: “Well this sucks — how do I make money from it?!”

There’s much to be won by applying the same entrepreneurial spirit of positivity to compliance training.

A positive approach accentuates, within the content of the training, the chance to grow and profit from education and elevated behavior. LeadGood applied that approach to great effect, for example, in ESG and Digital Transformation training for corporate directors that we just helped build with NACD. Don’t think of these mega-trends as barriers, we emphasized; think of them as opportunities to do important things better and differentiate your organization in the marketplace, i.e., a way to profit.

A positive approach shows typical people doing the right thing and correctly following compliance protocols and processes. I think this gets to the heart of what most working adults actually want from compliance training. They (our audience) are less focused on, “What’s the right thing?” — they think they get that. What they want to know is, “How do you expect me, with all the time and competitive pressures I face, to actually DO the right thing?” They don’t want to hear about risks; they want recipes.

A positive approach to training normalizes constructive and compliant behavior. Hold this in contrast to what has been seen in typical anti-bias training which, studies have demonstrated, can counterproductively normalize biased behavior. It turns out that when learners see repeated examples of people doing the wrong thing, it leaves them with an unconscious and undesirable impression that everybody does the wrong thing. So show the right thing!

And a positive approach to training feels, well, positive. It’s good news, rather than the doom and gloom of risk and sanction. Just think of some of the risk-focused training you may have experienced and ask yourself, “Why would anyone want to complete this training?!”

Finally, while enjoying last week’s webinar from the new initiative APW, I realized another big advantage in compliance training that takes a positive approach. Opportunity-centric training can help to build a culture of wellness around compliance. It can reduce the inherent stress on the compliance team of focusing on wrongdoing and risks, and of being seen as the buzz kill squad. If Compliance is seen by the organization as a source of opportunity and good news, therefore, it can lead not only to a more compliant and healthy organizational culture; it can also lead to a healthier compliance team.


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