3 Tips to Create a Competitive Advantage for Compliance Departments

February 27

With so much pressure for companies to decrease costs and increase profits, departments that are considered “cost centers” are typically asked to reduce costs each year. Often, Compliance departments struggle with getting business leaders to understand the true value it provides to the organization. This is especially apparent during annual budget review.

So how do you get your Compliance department to be seen as a competitive advantage within the company? Below, I provide you with 3 easy tips.

1. Brand Your Department

Be Recognizable
    • Create a “vision” or “guiding principles” for your department. What is the purpose of your group? What do you want to achieve? Has this been developed with input and engagement from all of the department staff? What “active verb” would you use to capture the overall theme of your vision or guiding principles?
    • If permitted, consider a department logo. This will help with instant recognition and you can build a theme around it. Even if your company does not permit department logos, think about a consistent graphic that you can use in your materials. For instance, using a compass in your documents can help employees to think of your department as “leading them in the right direction.”
    • Ensure a uniform “look & feel” to your documents and communications. This isn’t to say that they have to be dry or boring, but you want to make sure that the layout and use of corporate branding colors are used in a way that can set you apart from other departments and are visually appealing to the eye. When you are scrolling through social media, what “adverts” peak your interest? You are basically advertising your department so make sure it is appealing!
    • Consistently communicate and engage with employees. These communications don’t have to be long posts or articles, it could be short, fun snippets. By consistently communicating engaging content, employees will become accustomed to seeing your posts. It creates a habit for both them and you.
Be Unique/Engaging
    • Identify the key strengths of your team members (i.e. humor, data analytics, graphic design, SME, etc.)
    • Develop a) creative ideas that match the department vision; b) relationships with key stakeholders in all levels of the organization; and c) a communication strategy
    • Utilize different platforms to communicate your message (i.e. podcasts, videos, town halls, smartphone apps, etc.)
Identify & Engage “Influencers”
    • Think of this as a reboot of “Ethics Ambassadors” or “Compliance Champions”
    • Who are the “influencers” in your organization? Reach out to them to create a collaboration so that you can expand your reach by tapping into their already established network. If they are seen as a “thought leader” or “trusted advisor”, having them as a partner to discuss ethics is a win for both of you.

2. Innovate, Innovate, Innovate

  • Use infographics & awareness posters. Partner with your Marketing/Graphics Design department to come up with creative ideas to share information in a visually appealing and engaging way. If you want to use creative material that has already been designed for ethics, try Broadcat
  • LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® – use LEGO® bricks and 3D Diagnostic Cards to facilitate a discussion about the specific ethical situations employees encounter on a day to day basis. This allows participants to not only be completely engaged but encourages them to think about your policies in relation to their role. It also has the added benefit of giving you real time feedback on the effectiveness of your program
  • Cartoons – purchase a license to use an ethics cartoon (i.e. Dilbert by Scott Adams to use in training or various communications (i.e. department newsletters). Or create your own cartoons that address common ethical challenges in your own organization
  • Short videos – you can create your own videos by working with your Marketing department, or purchase a license to use short, fun ethics videos (I love Second City Works “Real Biz Shorts”)
  • Films & Popular TV shows – there are always ethical situations covered in popular films (i.e. Captain America: Civil War) or tv shows (i.e. Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, etc.). Turn “water cooler conversations” into teachable moments

3. Make the Connection: Branding + Innovation = Competitive Advantage

By fusing your “brand” with innovative training and awareness campaigns, you create a competitive advantage for your department.

  • Visibility – by publishing creative content and engaging with influencers, your policies, intranet site, and department become a well-known staple throughout your organization
  • Collaboration – ensure you are involved in key discussions with leadership (i.e. Operations and Business Development) as well as with influencers and local management
  • Thought Leader – consistent engagement and publishing tools for employees to use creates the thought that your department is the “go to” group to answer a myriad of questions. When people know who you are, they are more likely to contact you with questions
  • Reduced Financial Exposure – as your employees become more aware and knowledgeable of the policies, procedures and applicable laws, the company is better able to mitigate its risk and reduce its financial exposure

By using branding and innovation, you can make your department an “influencer” in your organization and be seen as a competitive advantage.

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