To comply or not to comply, that is down to culture

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How mobile digital technologies can help drive engagement and adherence.

In this third article in our series on ‘the role of action based/experiential learning’, we explore how learning tasks which challenge us to ‘do something’ can be a powerful catalyst for altering how people actually behave regarding compliance policies.

Doing the ‘right thing’ at work ranges from issues of safety, legality, morality to simple ‘best practice’, but as we all know, humans do not naturally default to what might be regarded as the appropriate course of action. By our nature, we are both ‘individual’ with a tremendous capacity for reasoning and decision making and yet, hugely influenced by the behaviors of those with whom we identify. These factors are surely why compliance strategies are moving away from ‘tick box tests’ to a focus on establishing cultural norms that encourage doing the ‘right thing’.

Thomas Reuters 2017 survey reported that in the next 12 months, respondents expect more compliance involvement in ‘Implementation of a demonstrably compliant culture and tone from the top’ at 69%.

Chart taken from Cost of Compliance 2017 report

Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, described culture as ‘simply a shared way of doing something with a passion’. We like his focus on ‘doing’ and ‘passion’ as surely, the only way in which values and beliefs are to be truly expressed is through behavior. However, self-analysis is not simple, for example, as research conducted around the influence of gifts from pharmaceutical companies to clinicians showed. When asked about the degree to which they were influenced by gifts, many clinicians said they weren’t at all, but they were happy to point out that their colleagues were (BMJ Open, 2017). A good example of personal compliance ‘blinkers’, the principles of ‘introspection illusion’ (Science Direct, 2009) and ‘choice supportive bias’, meaning that we can see the behaviours of others more clearly than we can see inconsistency in our own.

We generally believe observations that support our own beliefs, while ignoring observations that challenge them, which is why well-crafted feedback can help us. Effective feedback encourages personal reflection on our behavior and facilitates internal commitment to change. Therefore, both exposure to consistent role-modelling leadership and the promotion of self-awareness regarding personal decision making, are crucial for creating a specific culture.

One of the challenges in developing a desired culture is ‘reach’, the further people are from the focus of influence, the harder it will be to influence their behavior. Hence engaging local leaders in demonstrating, facilitating and coaching desired behaviors, is key.

“Leadership is a series of behaviors, rather than a role for heroes”
                                                                                                                                 – Margaret Wheatley

How can technology assist? eLearning, games, video and online tests are all suitable for disseminating information and checking understanding and more social platforms can help shape collective thinking by leveraging peer influence. However, if we are to encourage self-awareness and embed appropriate behavior choices, we need to get people ‘doing things’ and reflecting on their chosen actions. This is where ‘action based’ learning has a major part to play.

We have sought to leverage the multi-media and untethered capabilities of mobile devices to secure greater engagement by assessing application and practice. The mobile device’s camera, microphone, speakers and key board are all ‘built in’ and provide a rich seam of opportunity for evidence gathering and sharing, this enables local leaders to evaluate how their people operate and what they think about specific working practices. For example;

One of our customers uses this approach with engineers new to the field by directing them to collect evidence of how they install or fix equipment and share this with a technical coach, via images, video and or text entry. This enables the ‘coach’ to see evidence before and after the function was performed and evaluate the course of action taken by the engineer. Factor in the ability to share this evidence and for the technical coach to give feedback, and you have a potent way of driving compliance and skill development in the field.

Finally, with a digital platform, every action and interaction can be tracked and reported, hence the compliance office can track and monitor completions, evidence and monitor the actions of their leadership team. Leadership metrics such as:

Can all highlight your champions and laggards regarding the promotion of the compliance culture you are seeking to establish.

We believe that engaging your people in tasks which invite them to explain and evidence their actions concerning compliance issues, is a powerful means of achieving deeper self-determined behaviors, in other words, the type of behaviour that will ‘stick’ and which will in turn influence those around them, something we believe is called ‘culture’.

We hosted a webinar to share our thoughts on how digital mobile platforms can support the establishment of a compliance culture, click here to watch the recording.


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