'Compliance' is not a pleasant word
It has been a long time irritation that my profession of choice has very few usable synonyms. Compliance is not a pleasant word, really. It can be seen as conformity, acquiescence, docility, obedience, resignation and submissiveness. None of these adequately represent what compliance means in modern business.
In general, compliance means abiding by a rule, regulation, policy or standard. Organisations should make sure that they are always striving to comply with relevant laws, policies, and standards. However, when you mention compliance to many business owners you get rolling of the eyes, shuffling from one foot to another and uncomfortable silences.
So we would like to suggest an alternative, RESPECT.
Go on then, tell us what it stands for
Roles – Have clear and visible people in the organisation to provide leadership, guidance and support and who make good decisions
Education – Ensure that everyone in the organisation understands the requirements they need to honour. Regularly and consistently.
Standards – Adopt achievable and appropriate asparations and rules for the organisation, to which everyone buys into and understands.
Policies, Processes, Procedures – Three P’s for emphasis. Concise policy, clear processes and well-maintained procedures which deliver to your standards.
Enforcement – Rules have to be followed. Those that do not show respect to a reasonable organisation need to change or leave.
Communication – Positive, two-way engagement to ensure all comprehend the reasoning and requirements of changes made; and always allow for feedback.
Test – Trial, check, review, refine. Don’t just implement and forget. Handing changes down from on high rarely works in the long term.
You could add Follow, Understand and Liaise to make it RESPECTFUL, but that’s a tad contrived! The order of the letters is also not important; but take care, move a couple and you get SPECTRE and that’s definitely not the vibe we’re going for!
There is no detailed written code of how to show respect to someone or something, it’s mostly common sense. Having said that, my mum occasionally, ok… regularly, had to teach me to show respect.
Discipline will always be required, both personal and organisational. However, if we can get away from the negative, overly-bureaucratic connotation of compliance and move to a principled, inclusive respect of laws, standards and organisational rules, then business will get a whole lot more fun.
The future could see Chief Respect Officers or Head of Respectfulness being appointed in organisations. Wouldn’t you want to work for an organisation that respects what it has to do and the people in team that do it?