Getting resources to fund and execute important compliance initiatives takes some carefully crafted strategy, said compliance expert Kristy Grant-Hart during an inspirational keynote at Compliance Week’s annual conference.
As an attorney, former compliance officer, teacher, and author, Grant-Hart now operates Spark Compliance Consulting to give companies practical solutions on how to be more effective. The compliance office in most companies has to compete with operational priorities for resources, so Grant-Hart offered six strategies for compliance officers to adopt when trying to win a bigger share of the pie for compliance imperatives.
For starters, “be explicit and specific,” she said. “As subject matter experts, it’s easy for us to use acronyms and assume everyone knows what we’re talking about and why it’s important.” Compliance officers need to regard themselves as educators, assuring executives understand issues and risks when pitching for resources to address them.
“Practice doing it,” Grant-Hart advised, even if it’s a dry run facing a mirror or talking to a beloved pet. “I used to practice my sessions with my junior attorney, and I told her to ask questions and make it hard,” she said. “The act of saying things out loud will make you more confident when you go in.”
Stories and anecdotes are also critical, said Grant-Hart. “We feel stories,” she said. Along that same vein, use visuals, evoking the adage about a picture representing a thousand words. Intriguing images, puzzles, photos—even interjecting humor, perhaps—will help compliance officers connect with executives to make the appeal for resources more compelling.
Fear is another powerful tool, said Grant-Hart, especially when used with people who are motivated by fear. If using fear, however, it’s important to provide solutions, she said. When presented without accompanying solutions, fear tactics have been shown by research to evoke no more action than any other approaches, she said.
Finally, Grant-Hart suggested, position resource requests with a “choice of yes” expectation. Rather than presenting a single request that can either be granted or denied, present instead a series of two or three options for resourcing an important initiative.
“Present choices so ‘no’ is not one of the options,” she said. “In fact, have number two be the option you want,” as that’s the option most people typically choose, she said.
Compliance officers would also do well to more intentionally connect with corporate executives as a way to better entrench a compliance mindset into the business, said Grant-Hart. People tend to regard the compliance office as the company police, but it helps if compliance officers can make themselves more human, she said.
“Don’t be afraid to talk about your life,” Grant-Hart said. “Your life is what makes you more interesting. And don’t be afraid to be a little bit vulnerable. Talk about things that are hard.”
Compliance officers should assure they engage at social occasions outside of work and share personal photos and personal stories, she said. It’s also important to project confidence in business operations personnel that compliance believes they mean to do the right things.
“People do an amazing job of living up to your expectations of them,” she said. “If you tell people you believe in them to do the right thing, that can change the way they think of themselves and your program.”
It’s important to continually communicate why compliance matters, Grant-Hart said. “The more you help them understand the ‘because,’ the better,” she said.
Takeaways from Compliance Week 2019
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Six strategies to win more resources for compliance