In any organization, company culture is the bedrock of success. It’s true whether we’re talking about innovation, operational excellence or even compliance.
What’s more, building a culture committed to compliance doesn’t start at the bottom—it starts at the top. That’s because for people to consistently follow policies, procedures and guidelines, there needs to be strong leadership in place.
In this context, this post looks at 4 key strategies for improving leadership goals to improve compliance.
1. Set Clear Expectations
One of the most critical roles a leader plays is setting expectations and goals. After all, you can’t exactly fault employees for noncompliance if you aren’t clear about what you want.
Areas to focus on include:
- Actively reviewing protocols and processes. It’s critical to consistently evaluate whether procedures support compliance. Plus, using Document Control tools within the compliance system ensures you don’t have multiple versions floating around.
- Creating defined compliance goals. Get specific about targets you want to hit. For example, you might want to increase the number of risk items reported in the system or shorten the time to closure for Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPAs).
- Improving your training programs. Make it clear that Employee Training is a process, not an event. You should set measurable goals for staff in terms of training timelines and assessment scores, as well as goals for management in terms of reviewing and updating requirements regularly.
2. Improve Feedback Skills
Good feedback improves compliance by helping employees see precisely where they need to make adjustments. Plain and simple, leaders who don’t give feedback fail both their bosses and their employees.
The ability to give feedback that elicits change is the hallmark of a good leader. What makes feedback good versus bad?
- It’s relevant. People won’t listen to you if they think what you’re saying doesn’t apply to them. Timing is a big issue here, because waiting too long to bring something up can decrease its perceived relevance.
- It’s specific. It can be hard to be direct about what someone is doing wrong, but being overly general won’t lead to improvement. Be specific about what you need to change, also providing concrete directions on how the person should be doing it.
- It’s personalized. To get your message across, you need to be sensitive to the individual. For example, it’s unlikely you will get a good reaction if you use email. Think about chatting privately or talking it over, making a conscious effort to consider how to be both polite and direct.
3. Adopt a Collaborative Approach
Few leaders succeed by taking an arm’s length approach, and the best leaders are those who are willing to get in the trenches. This strategy serves several purposes:
- Demonstrating commitment. Taking time to get involved with daily operations improves compliance. Setting a good example and showing genuine commitment builds loyalty and a sense of teamwork.
- Showing you care and understand. Asking for feedback is critical to getting people on board with your policies and directives. As they say, people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
- Revealing new insights. Getting your hands dirty can give you fresh perspective on needed improvements, barriers to compliance and staff strengths and weaknesses.
4. Prioritize Improvement over Perfection
It sounds counterintuitive, given that every organization wants a record of perfect compliance. However, focusing on zero noncompliances only causes people to hide problems. They might hide issues during an audit, and they might avoid reporting events in the compliance system that could uncover valuable lessons (or hint at systemic problems).
Ultimately, a focus on continuous improvement is what shows you’re a leader that your employees can trust. When you’ve built that trust through the steps described here, you’ll find it a lot easier to meet all your goals.