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Jamie Lawrence


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Are you tackling the ‘compliance conundrum?’


This is an interview with Genny Dixon, Head of Research at Towards Maturity, and was conducted off the back of the release of Towards Maturity's free new report, In-Focus: Solving the Compliance Conundrum.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, TrainingZone: What do you mean by the compliance conundrum?

Genny Dixon, Head of Research, Towards Maturity: The international and regulatory landscape is constantly evolving and becoming ever more complex, and rules-based training is no longer an effective approach to influencing employee behaviour. The recognition of this has contributed to a significant shift in ethics and compliance programmes.

In the effort to prove that everyone has been through mandatory training, it is easy to lose sight of the reason why that training was essential in the first place. Whilst regulators (internal or external) are focusing on that audit trail, compliance and learning professionals need to increase both efficiency AND effectiveness.

This calls for redefining the internal goals in terms of shifting staff behaviours, attitudes and ultimately, the working culture throughout the organisation.

Conundrum 1: How to deliver personalised learning to the individual AND take a programme to scale 
How do you personalise the learning for the individual and high-risk job functions and still be able to offer large-scale, organisation-wide programmes?

Conundrum 2: How to design programmes that meet the needs of both individuals AND regulators 
How do you please both the learners and the many stakeholders involved?

Conundrum 3: How to demonstrate both efficiency AND effectiveness
How do you make sure that the boxes have all been ticked and still achieve real behavioural change?

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, TrainingZone: How do organisations misapproach compliance?

Genny Dixon, Head of Research, Towards Maturity: Compliance training can be treated as a separate activity, rather than part of the overall approach to learning and development where compliance is simply a part of the ‘learning organisation’.

The process of recording and measuring compliance training activities to meet the regulator demand for data can shift the focus away from reducing risk through changing mindsets and influencing the organisational culture to become more compliant.

Overloading programmes with detail to attempt to meet the regulators’ demands may end up achieving the opposite to what is intended, staff are turned off by the training and don’t engage with the critical messages behind it.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, TrainingZone: Are there any innovative methods of training for compliance that you're seeing recently?

Genny Dixon, Head of Research, Towards Maturity: Organisations that are getting the best results are using learning technologies to increase the scale and consistency of programmes and gather real-time data on programme effectiveness.

Designing training to be engaging and rooted in real-world examples is key as is using adaptive learning, where the individuals’ needs are moved to the forefront. The learner is no longer simply a passive recipient, but a collaborator in a model that tracks and learns with them.

Questions are tailored to learner knowledge and skill; the content and level of difficulty is tailored to past input; the pathway through the programme is adapted according to an underlying decision model that looks at what the learner is doing, their prior decisions, their performance and interactive activities; the degree of support and feedback are tailored to need.

Compared to the rest of the sample, those using adaptive learning have:

  • Doubled the degree of standardisation in work methods (32% vs 13%)
  • Pushed up completion rates by 10% (83% vs 73%)

Such methods don’t need to be complex.

  • Personalised feedback can be part of communities of practice, social media and other collaborative tools
  • Learner choice and pathway control can be enhanced with shorter e-learning courses in the learning management system
  • Games and simulations allow people to learn from mistakes and adapt their behaviour accordingly.

In Barnardo’s, they use algorithms to understand the context, job role and experience of individuals in order to filter and present back the learning elements they need.

They took an internally mandated programme, broke it into 20 modules and adapted it by:

  • Identifying the cornerstone elements of the programme – the key themes compulsory for all
  • Establishing a series of filtering questions linked to experience and job role
  • Mapping the filters to key components of the programme
  • Gathering feedback on the usefulness of the modules
  • Continually using the data generated to train the algorithms used to filter the content.

This approach used technology to predict the best modules for each individual (whilst maintaining exposure to key elements of the course at all times). The predictive and continually enhanced algorithms now deliver a personalised experience for staff, in some cases reducing the learning time by over 50%, while delivering a consistent outcome at scale across the organisation.

Using realistic scenarios, storytelling, attractive visuals and animation can help to bring learning to life and make content more engaging and interactive.

Stories can give learning a more realistic context which motivates the learner to engage emotionally with the content. Stories can include case studies, scenarios, illustrations, examples, critical incidents – and are powerful when they relate to the everyday work experience. Storytelling can also help to introduce a new topic and to simplify complex issues and make them more easily understandable and interesting.

When compared with the rest of the sample, those using learning scenarios and storytelling in their approach to compliance training are at least 3x more likely to achieve benefits:

  • Increasing workplace transparency (36% vs 12%)
  • Reducing time away from work (46% vs 13%)

Those that are using learning scenarios drawn from real life situations are also seeing a significant improvement in the compliance culture in their organisation.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, TrainingZone: How do we make compliance learner-driven?

Genny Dixon, Head of Research, Towards Maturity: One of the biggest challenges for ethics and compliance professionals is staff reluctance to keep repeating their compliance programme. “it's compliance so we HAVE to do it”. The modern learner is increasingly self-directed, but also critical of training approaches that do not appear to be relevant or timely for their situation.

Encouragement is important: Setting the “tone at the top” from supportive managers, workplace champions and peers. The influence of the line manager cannot be underestimated. Not only do they help their teams learn what they need, but through their own approach and behaviour, they set the tone for building a compliant culture in their team.

Learning resources need to be well planned and designed: relevant, memorable and engaging, using practical examples, including recommendations of how to apply learning in the workplace.

Communication is key to staff buy in: demonstrate how compliance training is enabling the business and linked to its success; focus on the learner as a customer and provide a customer-centric solution.

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Jamie Lawrence

Managing Editor

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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