Learning while training: harnessing the value of on-site visits


By Dawn W. Rogers (LinkedIn), Senior Associate General Counsel – Compliance, Textron Aviation, Inc.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit several of my employer’s remote service and distribution sites across Europe to conduct live training sessions on compliance initiatives, including our anti-corruption policies and various reporting mechanisms. From the outset, it was a challenging endeavor. We had to identify the right employees to participate, collaborate with local teams to help choose relevant topics and organize the logistics of the training. This involved coordinating schedules across multiple cities, securing facilities equipped with the necessary space and technology, and managing the logistics of traveling Europe on a tight schedule – all while delivering over 50 hours of presentations.

As compliance professionals, we all know the fundamental value of live training. Additionally, the Department of Justice’s Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs underscores the importance of hands-on, in-person training as a demonstration of commitment to compliance. The real benefit of this trip, however, extended beyond the training itself. It provided me with a deeper insight into the business operations and the unique challenges faced at these remote sites. It also helped our employees become better equipped to identify risks within our complex business environment and feel more connected to our compliance team in the U.S.

I fielded questions at every site that went beyond the compliance topics I presented. It gave me insight into our employees’ minds because of the questions they asked about policies, rules, processes and leadership. I discovered that employees are eager to do the right thing and want the training and resources to help them achieve that. They are not merely ticking boxes; in fact, “more training” was a frequent request in their feedback. I also learned that employees at remote sites want to feel more connected to their counterparts and to understand the rationale behind our practices. This trip was also a humbling lesson to learn that we might have delivered training based on inaccurate assumptions. There’s no substitute for visiting in person to forge relationships and establish trust.

The most interesting feedback I received was that being present helped overcome language barriers. I spoke with German, French and Spanish-speaking employees. While our employees all speak or understand English, the level of fluency would vary. I am not fluent in those languages, but not for lack of trying! As one person explained, it was easier to understand nuance and context and read body language when the person is speaking in front of you rather than virtually. It allowed me to see their reactions – interest, surprise, fatigue or boredom. I also learned to slow down, choose my words carefully and make more eye contact to enhance understanding.

Overall, this experience has made me a better compliance attorney and trainer. I look forward to continuing to improve our programs, processes and most importantly, outreach. It has opened my eyes to the bigger picture. I encourage you to visit a site you haven’t been to before, get out of your four walls, meet employees and leaders you might not otherwise encounter. There are always concerns like carving out the time and finding the budget, but I predict you will find it well worth the time, money and effort – I know I did.