Leadership and career

What Employees Do When No One is Looking

By April 13, 2016 No Comments

Are your colleagues a bunch of criminals? Didn’t think so. So why does so much compliance training focus exclusively on wrongdoing? Why not focus on the small, everyday behaviors that keep us all safe? Doing that will start to build a positive, compliance-based culture.

Twenty years partnering with Fortune 500 clients has taught us that compliance training too often focuses on illegal activity and the consequences of improper action. For the majority of honest, conscientious employees, this is not only inappropriate, but irrelevant (not to mention insulting). Add to this the tendency of much compliance training to attempt to cover every potential issue that could arise, and is it any surprise that so many compliance programs fail?

Herb Kelleher said, “Culture is what people do when no one is looking.” If you rely on a carrot-and-stick approach to compliance training, you may be sure the compliance box will be ticked, but do you think the culture of compliance in your organization will change?

Through long-term partnerships with our clients, we’ve been lucky enough to see compliance cultures start to change. Together, we customize each course to speak directly to the organization’s priorities, values and culture to focus on compliance behavior changes.

But how do you change behavior?

Plato wrote, “Human behavior flows from three sources: emotion, knowledge and desire.” When designing a compliance training course, here’s how we make that work…

  1. Identify the gap between existing and preferred emotions, knowledge and desires – these become the key messages that are repeated and modeled throughout the program.
  2. Create training that targets behavior – with a focus on simulation and practice and a spotlight on small, everyday behaviors.
  3. Make it real with performance-focused activity – encouraging employees to apply what they learn from the compliance training to real life and supporting them with tools to diagnose their own daily practice.

It turns out that culture is all about performance—it’s what we do each and every day. So when designing compliance training, the question we always ask is, What does the employee need to do? — not What does he or she need to know?

This is a principle carried through into Interactive Services new Compliance Learning Center (CLC), an online suite of more than 60 customizable compliance topics available through our learning portal, or from your LMS.

Getting employees to take action is the key to developing and sustaining a culture of compliance. It is not enough to for them to take training and hope they’ve learned what they need to know.

The ultimate goal of compliance training, like any other form of training, is to affect behavior and performance and to create positive change.

This is a crucial consideration in the design and development of any compliance training program.


Matt PlassMatt Plass is Chief Learning Officer with Interactive Services. He has an extensive background in classroom education and learning design for adult audiences and has engaged with numerous Fortune 500 global organizations as a learning consultant and designer, helping them to develop innovative compliance training solutions.

Matt’s role as Chief Learning Officer encompasses managing the instructional design function, designing our instructional tools and methodology and leading the business development function towards a consultative sales model.

Matt’s core expertise includes blended learning design, training needs analysis, strategic planning, change management facilitation as well as managing multiple stakeholders and working with teams of learning professionals to deliver high quality learning solutions to clients.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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