I’ve never liked compliance training. I’ve always seen it as a burden, just one more thing piled on top of the to-do list.

Then again, the training I was subjected to in previous jobs wasn’t the type we’re spotlighting in this special report. It was never customized to my particular role and responsibilities; to the specific challenges I faced on a daily basis. It didn’t present scenarios that made me think; that challenged my assumptions about a particular topic or set of rules. Because most of it wasn’t even relevant to me, it felt, frankly, tedious and a waste of my time. I’d do the bare minimum to get through it and pay attention just enough to correctly answer the obligatory easy questions at the end. I’d print my “Certificate of Completion,” post it ironically in my cubicle, and be done with it.

Yes, I had a bad attitude about training. But that’s what many chief compliance officers are up against: a resentful audience with a preconceived notion that it’s a boring exercise that wouldn’t register as a priority if weren’t required to be.

You can change that with a few simple steps I’ll borrow from some of the leaders in the training space featured in this special report:

  • Make your training personalized and relevant: There’s nothing worse than training that isn’t pertinent to the learners taking it. If you are training journalists who work in a newsroom, and the examples in the modules you provide feature how a sales team best protects sensitive information, it’s not going to stick. But if that same training shows a context familiar to the journalist—how to identify a potential phishing email targeting you specifically because of information you’ve shared on social media or have written about publicly—the learner will glean much more because it’s a scenario they can see happening.
  • Make it short: Most workers’ calendars are fuller than ever, and if you can tell them they need to complete four 15-minute training modules, you’re much less likely to get an eye-roll than if you demand they block off a full hour. And if you can make these “micro-lessons” available on a mobile app, all the better.
  • Make people think: A lot of the topics you train on contain a lot more gray area than black and white (when does a favorable deal become a bribe?; when does good-natured behavior become harassment?), and the way you train and test employees should focus on the gray—that’s where tough choices will have to be made. If there’s a Q&A after a training module, challenge employees with difficult questions about that gray area. Making them pause to think before they answer not only keeps them more engaged, it gives you feedback on areas within the gray that might need a heavier focus.

As for me, I’m no longer jaded on compliance training—as long as it’s thoughtfully constructed, relevant to my job, and helps me stay compliant!