September 13, 2019
How to make ethics & compliance training interesting
Ask most people if they’d like to attend ethics & compliance training and responses will range from groans, grimaces, panic, to temporary hearing issues. How do you make ethics & compliance training interesting?
One of the first tricks is the name. Compliance training has connotations (for many) of legal lectures. Ethics, sustainability, and culture can sometimes be more palatable alternatives. We’ve also seen mindful, change, and behavior incorporated into the titles. Or if you want to be catchier, give the training a title. For example, for scenario-based training, give the scenario a name, like “An inspector calls”, or “The missing millions”.
Clear training objectives
Once you’ve picked the title, be very clear about the objectives. One of the main pieces of critical feedback we’ve observed from hundreds of training delegates is that the objectives were unclear or not circulated. Some considerations:
- What is the aim? To educate, to refresh, to test implementation, or to assess understanding?
- Is any preparation required by delegates?
- Do you need to gather information from the delegates (e.g. questions they want to be answered, areas of confusion, risk areas they’d like to discuss, etc.)?
- Is there a training agenda you can share?
Long emails, unfortunately, don’t get read. So whatever objectives you decide on, try and communicate them as succinctly as possible.
Use ears and mouth in the right ratio
Once you have the delegates in the training room, make sure the training is structured in such a way that they do most the talking and you do most the listening. These sessions are an invaluable opportunity to understand the needs and challenges of your colleagues. People also switch-off if you talk at them. Some ways to get this across include:
- Start with some scenarios (e.g. ethical dilemmas, “what would you do?”, or a currently newsworthy topic (related to ethics & compliance). Get people talking, debating, and asking questions.
- Use practical exercises to get each of the key points across. For example, getting people to break into groups to decide how they’d respond to a simulated ethical challenge.
- Don’t give all the answers (at least not initially). Leading with “do not…” can make training feel like a parental lecture, and it can also miss an opportunity to better assess how well understood key E&C concepts are.
- Rely on your co-trainers to observe the room while you’re speaking and spot furrowed brows, vacant stares, and visible indicators of concern or interest. The co-trainer can then periodically interject (without putting people on the spot) with comments like, “Are there any questions about… is anything unclear…?”
- Repeat and reinforce the message that you encourage interruption and questions.
We all learn differently
Some of us prefer to read, some observe, some interact, some practice. These are not mutually exclusive, so you’ll need to mix-up the media used and instructional methods. This will depend on group size, seniority, educational levels, fluency in the language of instruction, and the venue set-up. Some possible variables to consider include:
- Readers: Make sure you have handouts, cheat-sheets, tools, etc.
- Observers: Use multi-media to vary the channels of instruction (people often give feedback that they like videos, especially ones that add some levity to the topic or highlight the real-life implications of ethical failures).
- Social types: Allow time for group work, role-plays, discussion and a chance to present back to the broader group.
- Practical people: Give advice about what you’ve seen work in real-life situations, give the ‘answers’ at the end of scenarios (what should have been done), and describe tools or frameworks that can help (e.g. we often use crisis management or frontline investigative frameworks to provide a structure around which to base a response to a possible issue).
These days, most of us struggle to pay attention for very long. As a general rule try and keep each segment to 5-7mins. For example, if introducing anti-bribery and corruption, spend 5 mins on some scenarios/dilemmas to introduce the topic, 5mins of how your organization practically manages this threat, and 7mins practice with a real-life scenario. This cycle of 5-7mins can be repeated on one topic (like anti-bribery), as you introduce more elements, dilemmas, and layers of complexity. The point is, try not to linger on one segment for too long.
Another alternative, if technology allows, is to gamify. That is, to get people competing, by voting on which option they’d choose, which answer is correct, what not to do, etc. This turns training into a game which most seem to enjoy, but also provides you with valuable data. There are numerous folks out there doing these sorts of tools and most trace their origins to children’s education. For example, Kahoot! – but beware that introducing laptops and smartphones should be done with the caveat that sneaking a peak (and replying) to a few emails isn’t really part of the exercise.
Conclusion: Vision, variety, value
Make sure you are clear in your vision for the training. Vary the instructional methods and the inputs. Give the delegates information, tools, and advice to take away and apply in ethically-challenging situations they may face.
Do this, and your training will go well. If you need any support, we help clients craft training to deliver by themselves, or with our support (and experience of seeing what training and what tactics work to best manage E&C).