When we talk about communications in the world of compliance, we tend to focus on training and other forms of mass information sharing. Not as often discussed, but just as important, are the individual one-to-one conversations between the compliance team, leadership, management, and frontline personnel. Getting these interactions right is essential to the success of a compliance and ethics program.
Donna Schneider (LinkedIn), Vice President, Corporate Compliance and Internal Audit, Lifespan, has been running a series of six columns in Compliance Today magazine focused on communication done well. In this podcast she touches on a few of the key topics that she addresses.
Her first piece of advice: stick to the facts. It’s very important to be factual because if you do not rely on facts there is a tendency to tell yourself a story. By analogy she points out that when someone cuts you off driving we tend to come up with reasons why the person did it, even though all we know is that they cut us off. Likewise in a crucial conversation it’s good to focus on what you know definitively: the things you saw, heard or read yourself.
She also shares how to handle one of the ongoing challenges when it comes to compliance: setting expectations for leadership. Often, management is eager to come to a quick resolution and put the issue behind them. That is not always the best course since a thorough investigation takes time. For that reason, she advocates consistent communication, establishing a collaborative rapport and setting reasonable expectations. Periodic updates are also exceedingly important.
Before a difficult conversation she advises thinking through what outcome you want for yourself, others or the organization. Consider, too, the relationship between you and the person you are speaking to. Don’t focus on the specific issue you are talking about but what you want to happen. Are you in a dialogue, do you want to share facts or are you there to learn facts? Think about your intent and then ask yourself: how would I behave to achieve that goal? Think through, too, both what verbal and nonverbal communication skills you will need.
Think through also how you would respond if the conversation went south. What would you say or do to bring it back to the direction that you want?
Listen in to learn more about how to best prepare for difficult conversations, including the power of “do” and “don’t do” statements.