Compliance starts with “L”

If your organisation is focussing most of its attention on the effectiveness of its compliance systems, processes and technology, is it looking hard enough at the single biggest influence on a successful compliance campaign – its leadership?

Here’s four leadership areas your organisation should be focussing on to ensure it is really helping everyone align their behaviours in a way that positively impacts compliance:

Leading from the back isn’t leadership at all…

An organisation will inevitably be the embodiment of its leaders. So, are the leadership genuinely serious about compliance, or do they just want to ensure the box is ticked? Being serious means ensuring compliance is always on their agenda, and they should be taking real responsibility for establishing the principles of good compliance throughout the business, including its ethical values. Get the leadership to the point where they always talk about compliance positively, and take it as seriously as any other aspect of the business, including by giving it time and effort. Just remember, leaving it to the business to “implement” simply won’t work.

Doing as they say must be the same as doing as they do…

Employees will look to your leadership to ascertain what is acceptable and what is not. So, the leadership should:

  • always follow the rules, no matter how minor or inconsequential they may seem to be;
  • have the same rules applied to them, in the same way as they are applied to everyone else, regardless of seniority or position;
  • encourage junior colleagues to tell them when they are breaking the rules, and then respect them for it;
  • respect, acknowledge and reward employees for following the rules; and
  • look for, highlight and seek to resolve compliance issues.

Whatever happens, meet your objectives…

So, when setting everyone’s objectives the leadership must ensure they align with the organisation’s ethical and compliance principles:

  • Goals and objectives can be achieved without breaking the rules. If the objectives that are set can only be achieved if rules are broken, then it is time to question your leadership’s commitment to the organisation’s ethical and compliance principles.
  • Objectives don’t encourage rules to be broken. The underlying environment of the organisation may be different to how it portrays itself from an ethical standpoint. This can often be seen when the nature of objectives set are such they encourage and reward the cutting of corners and the breaking of rules.
  • Objectives are set that are meaningfully compliance based. Where you set objectives that truly align with the ethical values of the organisation and contribute fairly (rather than nominally) to overall performance, they will be most positive.

Doing good should be good…

Good incentives are closely aligned to good objectives, but they are not just about rewarding their attainment financially. They should also be about the organisation ensuring the personal needs of its employees are more likely to be met through being a good corporate citizen, rather than being a bad one. Setting the right reward structure is the responsibility of the leadership and it should reward best for things being properly, not improperly.

Your organisation’s compliance programme should be openly addressing these key areas, as well as facilitating regular reviews of their impact. If not, then action should be taken to ensure the leadership embed these areas into the ongoing programme; after all, they represent one of the most cost-effective and valuable ways of ensuring the people in the organisation are fully aligned with its compliance goals.

Obséy can help you put the “L” back into compliance. So, whatever your GRC challenges, we would like to listen…