Hi there! I’ve started a brand new expert discussion series called the E&C Exchange! In this inaugural episode, the one and only Richard Bistrong and I talk about all things training. We get into the important details like:

You don’t want to miss this! (If you’d prefer to watch the video instead of watching the video, CLICK HERE)

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Kristy Grant-Hart:

Hi, this is Kristy Grant-Hart, and I am so delighted today to be joined by one of my favorite compliance and ethics experts, Mr. Richard Bistrong. Hello, Richard, how are you? It’s been far too long.

Richard Bistrong:

Hi, Kristy. It’s such a pleasure to see you, to join you today. It has been a while. Just to think, so now we’re April 2021, that about a year ago, a little more than, we were sitting in London City Center having a compliance coffee, talking about our annual co-hosted dinner at the SCCE’s Compliance Institute before scurrying back home. Thankfully everyone has been safe and keeping well. It’s wonderful to see compliance initiatives being restarted and being implemented. It’s an upbeat conversation today. How about you? How have things been since our last get together?

Kristy Grant-Hart:

Honestly, I certainly can’t complain. We’ve been incredibly lucky. I’ve been in California for the last six months with my family and it’s just been as good as it could be in the COVID era. It’s exciting though, to see it kind of coming back. And I think one of the things that we’ve seen the most change with, but also the biggest need for adaptation perhaps going forward as well is in training. That’s going to be our topic today is really focusing in on training the trends, what we’re seeing as best practices, what’s emerging.

And I guess starting with that, I think people have really struggled because we had these great training plans at the beginning of 2020. “I’ve got my quarterly plan. I know exactly which e-learning course I’m putting out. It’s half an hour long. We’re doing it then.” And it all went away. We suddenly had this mad panic. And I think one of the most challenging and interesting things that people then had to deal with is what are we going to do with all these people working from home? And since I don’t think that that’s entirely going to go away, how have you seen your clients deal with that with this sort of either hybrid environment or everyone’s working from home environment? What have you seen to respond to that effectively?

Richard Bistrong:

Well, Kristy, it’s been a little bit of a journey. I think going back to March, 2020, it was maybe we can defer some of these initiatives. Let’s see what happens. And then when it was apparent that we’d be working from home for a while, I think the first shift was, “Okay, let’s take a look at our 2020-2021 plans and how can we shift those to a virtual model?” So do we have the technical resources? Do we have a licensed routines for Zoom? So we can just transition over and get this done virtually. So I think the first challenge was a technical one. But then I saw a compliance leader starting to appreciate that that doesn’t work. Just looking at it as a linear transition from in-person, to virtual or even hybrid. That’s not how we learn. When we’re together, and Kristy you and I both really enjoyed ethics and compliance conferences.

Just think about it. When we’re active, we’re engaged, we’re listening to the content. And sometimes the best content is after the panel over a coffee break, or lunch or dinner where we’re taking a deeper dive into this. So when we’re in person, I think the default learning is an active one, where we’re actively engaged. But when it’s virtual, I think our default is passive. We might be multitasking thinking about something else, not focusing on the content. And then when that webinar or a Zoom session is over with, it’s one and done. We’re moving on to our next virtual engagement. So I think now there’s a greater behavioral appreciation that this challenge has to be addressed in something that’s greater than just a technical solution in that, how do we inspire and influence people in a virtual environment? And the responses that I have been seeing are very thoughtful and very nuance.

And if I had to summarize them Kristy, it would be multichannel. So sometimes it might be a large webinar for regulatory training, which it’s not something that is optional, it’s mandatory training. And then maybe there’s some smaller breakout sessions for the end, like Zoom Rooms, meeting rooms. But it’s not a one size fits all problem or solution. So it’s wonderful to see compliance leaders addressing it in a multichannel environment. So that’s a trend that I’ve been seeing. And how about you, Kristy?

Are you seeing any trends with respect to training integration? Are organizations looking at it as multi topic or multi-function? And do you see organizations intertwining ethics and compliance training? Or is it straightforward like, “Okay, today’s anti-bribery training and that’s what we’re going to discuss.” Or do you see a little bit of both?

Kristy Grant-Hart:

Those are a lot of options. I’m seeing I think that the more sophisticated programs are starting to really do integrated training. And by that, I mean multi compliance topics. When I took the bar exam, one of the challenges of bar exam is that they give you a fact pattern and there are real estate problems with torque issues. There’s a contract that goes wrong. And the reason they do that is because in real life no one goes to a lawyer and says, “Look, I have a torque problem. And here’s my contract issue.” You go to the lawyer and say, “This is a disaster. Help me.” And what happens in real life in compliance is people come in and say, “This is a disaster. Help me.” Or, “Shoot, I got caught. This is a disaster.” And they don’t neatly delineate your anti-bribery issue, from your fraud issue, from your modern slavery problem that happened from your third party getting a subcontractor with no due diligence.

So for me, what I’m excited about is this multi topic approach that’s coming and then layering it another layer down with the ethical dilemmas as well, the ethics challenges. We have talked for too long about these things as separate ideas that need to be separated in people’s minds. That’s not how we operate. So I think we really need to trust people that they can handle the complexity of multiple issues while g
iving them the tools that they need to have to really deal with these things in real life. I think it’s much more helpful to do that than to simply say, once more, the FCPA stands for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. And it’s just very different. And where we’ve seen a lot of really interesting trends in the last couple of years, things like micro learning or training of your third parties. What else have you seen maybe outside of just the COVID world. But what do you think is coming and what’s up and coming in those trend areas?

Richard Bistrong:

But one of the trends that I’m seeing is very exciting in that we used to see in-person at leadership conferences or sales gatherings, that there would be maybe one thread during, let’s say a two or three day event where, “Okay, this is going to be our compliance training,” which was separate than the sales rollout and leadership initiatives. We’re now, Kristy, I’m starting to see them intertwined where the fireside chats that I do now with my clients are not with just the compliance team and compliance training.

Richard Bistrong:

It’s a fireside chat with the CEO. So what I’m seeing are these issues of ethics, and integrity and responsible business practices, as you well shared. This is not just about the FCPA coming out of the voice of leadership, not just out of the voice of compliance. And this is an area where being virtual or hybrid, it actually gives an opportunity for business leaders to expose themselves and how important they think integrity is and setting ethical expectations. It gives them wider access to the workforce. So I think as we look at maybe some of benefits that we’ll keep afterwards, this leadership engagement has really been interesting.

Kristy Grant-Hart:

Yeah. I love that. I hadn’t ever thought of it that way of it’s actually easier in some ways to get your leaders all together because they can just get all together right here instead of having to be in Stockholm at Tuesday at 4:00 PM. That’s brilliant.

Richard Bistrong:

And the other thing I’ve been seeing, Kristy, is they’re breaking the training down into smaller groups. So instead of going wide in APAC, or wide in AMEA, it might be a country cluster because one of the challenges, if we want people to engaged with the training and the learning is it needs to be a smaller group. So I’ve seen the training being broken down to where we can get fewer people engage and they have more of an opportunity to ask questions. Maybe there were breakout rooms. So the micro learning is not only impacting subject matter, but who we asked to come to the trading and who we might say, “This is a topic that you don’t really need to address right now. It’s not a priority.” So there’s really been some thoughtful, I think, nuances behind who we’re inviting as well.

Kristy Grant-Hart:

I would like to say that I’m seeing some of my clients actively taking this risk-based approach to training and beginning to trust it. We constantly talk about risk-based approach to particularly third party due diligence, but training really has been such a blanket for such a long time. Everyone has to take the anti-bribery training. Well, why do they need to do that? Can we really think about why they need to do that? And when we can actively pick the groups that have exposure, genuine exposure to risk of bribery, then we can make more tailored training because it can be more specific because you’re not trying to do 150,000 people. You’re actually really focused in on those that it matters to. So I think that that is a really powerful and important trend and if you’re going to take segments out to not train them on something, just document why you made those decisions, what was the criteria? It should be defensible to a regulator. We don’t have to take this giant one hammer approach and it will make everything better.

Richard Bistrong:

That is a great point. And I think there’s been a little bit of a narrative arc here because when we started in virtual trading it was, “Wow. It’s much easier to go wide and deep in the organization virtually than it is to organize the logistics around getting everyone together in-house.” So I think the first wave was, “We can invite someone so we will invite them.” But now speaking as the former commercial Richard, I’m seeing, “Look, this is not a priority for you right now as the compliance leader speaking to someone in the workforce.”

So we’re going to document why, but you don’t need to attend this training. However, next week there’s something that I need to double down on with you though I really need your focus and your attention. And from a learning perspective, when someone shares with the former commercial, Richard, “You don’t need to attend this, even though I could invite you. But I really need you to stay micro-focused on next week’s training.” Well, I think that gets someone’s attention. So let’s talk about adult learning, Kristy. I understand you’ve been studying a little bit about adult learning as part of one of your many recent initiatives. So did you learn anything from that that can be applied to today’s compliance efforts as maybe a compliment or a part of what we might think of as a standard PowerPoint presentation?

Kristy Grant-Hart:

Absolutely. So I have dove deeply into this topic. We’ve recently put out a training game and I worked with a psychologist at University College, London on that, and just really got fascinated with this idea of adult learning. It turns out there’s a bunch of theories of it that I’m waiting through in my mind, trying to see how to apply all of them. But the most pertinent thing, and this is something we can start with right away, every single person no matter how bad your PowerPoint deck is, start with why exactly we’re doing this. So many training sessions start with, “This as the FCPA.” They don’t start with, “This is critical to the business. This is going to keep you safe. This is going to make it so that you’re more effective and that you know what to do if you get in a situation that’s untenable.” If we don’t start with why adults tune out nearly immediately.

The two most important things to remember are, start with “Why.”  The second one is in adult learning theory, several of them, the most important thing for adult is to know they can apply it immediately. So you start with why, and then you start with application. You don’t ever start with theory and we do it backwards. In nearly every training session I’ve ever seen we start with the what, and eventually get to why, and then how. We need to start with why, how, and then what. And it’s really turning that upside down.

One of the learning theories that’s called transformational learning theory talks about the idea of complex situations. And we were talking about that earlier, situational complexity, but adults don’t like being talked down to and they don’t like it to be too easy. So actually complexity and dilemmas create the opportunity for transforming thinking, but only if they actually make people feel and hear challenging their own body challenging their mind. So our jobs really are to explain why right off the bat, to tell them how to apply it immediately, whatever you’re teaching, because the theory doesn’t matter. It’s the application. And then to get that transformation mentally and spi
ritually really, through that experiential training through scenarios and demonstrations.

Richard Bistrong:

That is a great point. And one of my favorite compliance reads, Kristy is Blind Spots, big surprise, by Max Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunse. And one of their main propositions is if we think of ethics and compliance as just policies, rules, and procedures, to avoid of the why, why this matters, that it actually distorts our decision-making instead of helping it, because we think if there is not a rule for something that it’s a permissible activity or interaction. Which is exactly what we don’t want to promote. So I think when we talk about the why we start to appreciate that those policies, rules, and procedures are there to protect us that they are the guardians to our welfare, our success, and our safety. And they are not there to slow us down or inhibit our success.

Kristy Grant-Hart:

I love everything you just said there. So as we’re getting better at this, hopefully over time, I think the training has gotten better and better and will continue to. If you were to look in your crystal ball and say, in five years, training will have changed in what ways, what do you think the future holds for compliance training?

Richard Bistrong:

So I think, I hope it involves us getting together again and co-hosting dinners for one. But Kristy, I think we have a little bit of a bump in the road in our compliance journey in that at some point we’re going to this hybrid model where we’re going to have certain people in office and certain people that are attending virtually. And there’s been some interesting writing and research about that. And I never even knew this existed until I started reading about it. It’s called proximity bias, where from a compliance perspective, maybe we’re favoring, or getting close to, or focusing more on the people who are in office with us, who are attending live and we’re less focused and attentive to the needs of the people that are attending virtually. So I think we have to be very mindful of that. And one of the articles I read talked about, focus on the people who are attending virtually. Think about their needs, their challenges.

Richard Bistrong:

And if you do it that way, the people who are they’re going to get it anyway, because they’re there with you. So reverse order and really try to mitigate and understand that proximity bias is very real. And we don’t want anyone feeling from an ethics and compliance perspective that social distancing is integrity distancing. So that’s really one of the challenges I see, because from my perspective and what we’re reading, Kristy, I think at least the hybrid model of training is going to be around for a while. But how do we measure the effectiveness of it? So Kristy, this seems to be a question that fills up our LinkedIn feeds. It’s the subject of panels, of presentations. Is it a solvable problem to measure the effectiveness of your compliance initiatives? What say you?

Kristy Grant-Hart:

Sometimes, I think is the correct answer to that. But on one hand and on the other hand, I want a one handed lawyer. I think that the answer is that we can do a decent job of it. I think that it’s impossible to say, “How many people did we reach really?” But I think we can certainly do a better job than never having any idea, whether there was an effect. One of the things that I like is the idea of two months, three months, five months, six months re-questioning. One or two questions, doing a subset of the population that got whatever the training is. Can they answer this question correctly? It can literally be done on survey software, something like that, so that you can simply check that some of the knowledge remains when it’s not in that very short-term memory from just having taken the course.

Kristy Grant-Hart:

I think that you can look at things like one of my favorite ones that’s happening right now. One of the training companies has come up with the ability to answer how confident you are about the answer you’re giving during the quiz. So in other words, if we see a huge spike of people saying, “I know this,” and getting it wrong over and over again. It wasn’t effective enough. You need to retrain on that. Whereas if people actually aren’t sure, then you need to retrain on that subject too. So it gives you more of an indication about how they’re feeling about their confidence in their answers, whether they’re confidently correct, confidently incorrect, or not confident. I think that that can be really, really interesting. I think some of the testing out models are interesting too.

Kristy Grant-Hart:

So if next year, 10% can test out of the anti-trust training the year after 35% do, obviously you’re going to need some refreshers in there. But we need to be able to trust that if, you know this, why are you sitting here again? If you can prove that, you know it, then it tends to say it was effective from last time. And I think lastly from the adult learning scenarios, if you can take application and say, “This is one scenario, this is how it worked. Tell me how it would work in this one?” The tell me how is a great adult learning technique, because if you are showing that people can take what they’ve learned and apply it to a brand new scenario, that’s effectiveness and that shows that they understood what you were trying to teach them.

Richard Bistrong:

It reminds me of this shift that we’re seeing in college aptitude tests where we’re trying to move from a model of, “Okay, you can gain it by memorizing these types of questions to really try understand that someone appreciates the actual content itself.” That’s neat. Really interesting.

Kristy Grant-Hart:

I think that training is going to get better and better. I think that frankly, my message to compliance officers is that have the courage to do it differently, to not just let the lawyers in the room tell you what has to happen, but to actually have the courage to test out microlearning, to test out some of the scenario based pieces to really think about multichannel, as you said. And speaking of multichannel, I am so excited. I understand you have a new e-learning series called Compliance Corner. That’s a series of different vignettes.  Thank you for letting them be shown to me. I was really excited about them. And I have something out as well. I know you’ve got to see Compliance Competitor our online training game for high risk groups.

Richard Bistrong:

It was fun demoing it Kristy. And the good news is there were no right answers. So I can’t tell if I did well or poorly, but it was a wonderful exercise to go through. So thank you.

Kristy Grant-Hart:

Thank you. So we’re going to go ahead and make sure that there are links to either say, Richards vignettes from compliance corner, or if you’d like to get more information about Compliance Competitor as Richard and I try to solve and help compliance officers solve the dilemma of making bad training, good training, and helping employees to be great. Thank you so much for joining me, Richard-

Richard Bistrong:

Thank you, Kristy.

Kristy Grant-Hart:

… and have a great rest of your day. Thanks so much guys. Take care. Bye.