Welcome to Episode 4 of Compliance Man Goes Global podcast of FCPA Compliance Report International Edition. In this episode, we will focus on typical myths and mistakes regarding compliance trainings. We will do it in plain language so to say and in the simple game form. Moreover, to make the podcast handy and more appealing we attach respective illustration from the Compliance Man illustrated series, created by Timur Khasanov-Batirov.

For those of our listeners who are not aware about our format, in each podcast, we take two typical concepts or more accurately misconceptions from in-house compliance reality. We check out if these concepts work at emerging jurisdictions. For each podcast, we divide roles with Timur, a practitioner who focuses on embedding compliance programs at high-risk markets. One of us will advocate the concept identifying pros. The second compliance man will provide arguments finding cons and trying to convince audience that that we face a pure myth. As a result, we hopefully will be able to come up with some practical solutions for in-house compliance practitioners.

Myth #1 Compliance training is not an entertainment. It is a very serious thing. Such trainings are about anticorruption, criminal enforcement and consequently could be delivered only by legally trained compliance team members.  Tim, do you agree with this statement?

Tim Khasanov-Batirov: It is a very typical assumption. Let’s see what pros we have:  

Argument #1.

Obviously, the training should cover anticorruption matters based on corporate rules, local and applicable extra-territorial legislations (like FCPA, for instance). Referring to relevant enforcement cases from the specific industry is vital to make training close to reality. Should we have as trainers only lawyers from compliance team? I would say, yes. Lawyers are expected to know and naturally are close to such things as legislation, corporate rules and alike;

Argument #2.

Now let’s discuss if compliance training could be delivered in entertaining form. As we remember, Tom, may be 10 years ago compliance trainings were supposed to be dull and lengthy. They were so to say the best cure to fight insomnia. Now we have the opposite situation. In attempt to be modern, we have appealing, funny and entertaining compliance shows. The problem is that the content of training in many such cases become something secondary after the form of delivery;

Tom:  I think, Tim that there are some cons here as well:

Argument #1 is about having only lawyers as compliance trainers.

I believe for some audiences’ deep knowledge of regulations is not needed. This might be a case for instance when audience should understand just basic rules. Therefore, you can deploy HR team or non-lawyers from compliance department to conduct session for the staff. Moreover, lawyers tend to train employees as if they were talking to other lawyers, which is usually not the case for compliance and ethics training.

Argument #2 is about entertaining. I think the best way is to define what specific matters should be communicated and what are the best ways to do it for the target group. The answer on how to do training basically depends on corporate culture. I think the main test is whether compliance practitioner can deliver the message or no matter in what form.

Tim: Tom, I agree with you. As we have started to talk about trainings maybe we can refer to the topic of their evaluation or as you might say in the US, their effectiveness?

Tom: Good idea, Tim. We can formulate the next concept or maybe misconception in the following way:

Myth #2“Do not complicate things, there is no need to evaluate compliance trainings. It is just about communicating the rules”. Tim, will you agree with this concept?

Tim: I strongly disagree with this concept.

To start with, training will be evaluated by participants informally. If compliance training is about rules which are irrelevant to participants or compliance session is not tailored per audience people will notice that. This situation is depicted in Episode 3 of Compliance Man comics series. Unfortunately, it is a typical problem of global companies. It looks like that: there is a requirement to conduct compliance training for local personnel using standard presentation from the HQ.  A local compliance officer conducts this training. Formally, everything is fine. In reality, participants understand nothing.

Even if you are not fan of training evaluation or it does not work in your situation for some reason here is a tip. First, do the homework and learn about the department for which you are going to conduct training. Talk to key managers to explore specifics of department’s activity, which are relevant to topic of compliance training. This will help you to tailor the session for that audience. I also strongly recommend engaging supervisor of this unit to be your co-speaker at the training session. People will follow what their boss it is telling them to do. In our case that will be compliance requirements.

What are your views on necessity to evaluate compliance training, Tom?

Tom: I have some thoughts, which might look controversial at first sight but hopefully could be of value to compliance practitioners:

The first thing is about illusions. As you fairly depicted in Compliance Man Illustrated the feedback or evaluation of the training will pop up anyway. It will be communicated among personnel informally.   Probably you will never learn about it. Another situation, which comes to my mind. If there is colleague from compliance team or Legal man (as in the Illustrated series) who supports you he will tell you that everything was just perfect. This could be illusion as well.

Argument #2.

Having said all that, be sure that if you are going to evaluate the training you must formulate very specific questions to avoid general answers from participants of no practical value. Some companies demand to identify the name of the participant in the training evaluation survey. Obviously, in this case you will not get impartial answers.

But this evaluation of effectiveness is critical as the regulators, literally from across the globe, are now focusing on your compliance training program’s effectiveness. This means you must not only design appropriate questions but also test the questions and responses in a way which gives you real answers. Of course if these questions show your training is not effective, you must use that same information to revise your training so that it is effective.

Tim: Agreed, Tom. As key takeaways from today discussion, I think we can mention the following:

  • Compliance training should not be of formal and irrelevant to audience nature. Find ways to tailor your session so your messages will be delivered and appreciated by the audience.

Tom: Fair enough, Tim. It looks to be a practical tip. Tom Fox and Tim Khasanov-Batirov were here for you.

Join us for the next episode of Compliance Man Go Global episode of FCPA Compliance Report International Edition. Let’s bust more corporate compliance myths with us.

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