By Kathalin Carvalho, LL.M., CCEP-I
From ethikos magazine
Theoretically, governmental bodies and companies impose different standards (e.g., policies, local and international laws, treaties, codes, standards, rules, and other regulations) to assist us in observing our conduct wherever we go. It may be easy for compliance professionals to take compliance training, memorize all these standards, and pass a final exam; but what about putting all these principles into practice? Is that easy too? What other skills must a compliance professional develop to ensure that the compliance message is meaningful enough to impact people and change behavior?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a relationship is “the way in which two or more people or things are connected.” It is not enough that the compliance professional understands the standard, but most importantly, that the standard is effectively communicated to others. It is all about the connection. Every policy goes hand-in-hand with communication. No policy can be effective if the way it is communicated is not clear and transparent; therefore, it is key to apply the appropriate written and verbal mechanisms to not only communicate, but to encourage people to follow the message. But what are those written and verbal skills that every compliance professional must consider when communicating with others? The following tips are to assist you with your compliance communications:
1. Learn the culture of your audience: Culture is just the manner people behave in a particular place or organization. It is about learning how business is conducted in a particular place and about the preferences of the audience.
2. Brand yourself: Be sure to introduce yourself using the acceptable business mannerisms according to the company or country culture: shake hands, call staff by their first name, hand out your business card, use your picture in the corporate communication, conduct office walk-throughs, etc. Let people get to know you in a more informal manner.
3. Interact with all staff levels: We all have heard the slogan, “Compliance starts with you” but who are you? “You” means all employees. Make the effort to participate in different corporate or industry events and establish personal contact with all staff levels: executives, managers, supervisors, team leaders, analysts, specialists, clerks, secretaries, administrators, etc. And yes, they are all important.
4. Take time to prepare yourself and attend public relations courses: Compliance professionals should not be limited to obtaining just industry certifications, but also should be encouraged to attend other types of courses that would allow them to gain professional enrichment, such as public speaking and presentations, as well as business etiquette and protocol.
5. Build credibility: Knowledge is key. Master the industry you represent and obtain as much institutional knowledge as possible to gain more confidence and acceptance from those you are talking to. Do not forget to respond to people’s inquires promptly; do not make them wait too long for your response.
6. Practice the art of listening: Respectfully listen to all different points of view and exhibit poise at all times. The more you listen, the more people will share experiences with you.
7. Be available: Provide your audience with different ways to contact you: office phone, mobile, email, regular mail, interoffice chat, intranet, or others. Let your audience decide which option is the best way for them to contact you, and you can share your preferred form of contact as well.
Consistent presence of compliance is critical to create an organizational culture of ethics and compliance. The manner in which the message is received by employees will depend on the personalities of the business leaders and their knowledge of the values and principles that drive the company’s workforce. Therefore, it is key that compliance officers recognize that relationships are important and that such relationships are considered when implementing compliance and ethics standards throughout the organization.
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Kathalin Carvalho (Kathalin_Carvalho@jabil.com) is a Regional Compliance Manager for the Americas with Jabil Circuit Inc. in St. Petersburg, FL.