FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

July 2, 2014

Gettysburg Day 2 – A Failure of Culture in Leadership and How to Overcome It

James LongstreetToday is the 151st anniversary of Day 2 of the Battle of Gettysburg. Last year I focused on Union General Dan Sickles and how is disobeying of his commanding officer’s order, destroyed his brigade and ended his military career. Today, I want to focus on the Confederate side and how the non-use of information doomed the Confederate attack on Day 2 when it failed to dislodge the Union Army from the heights south of the town of Gettysburg.

If you have ever been to the battlefield, you were most probably struck by the rockiness of the heights to the south of town. While much of the area around the town had been cleared for farming there were some very rocky and stark ridges that ran south of Gettysburg. The Confederate plan had been to size this high ground using a road that split the rocky crags as a launching point. However, Confederate General James Longstreet’s failed to follow this order when he ordered his men to make a long, circuitous route that could not be seen by Union Army Signal Corps observers on Little Round Top. It was 4 pm by the time his two divisions reached their jumping off points, and then he and his generals were astonished to find the Union Army’s III Corps planted directly in front of them. Confederate General John Hood argued with Longstreet that this new situation demanded a change in tactics; he wanted to swing around, below and behind, Round Top and hit the Union Army in the rear. Longstreet, however, refused to consider any modifications to Lee’s order as the Confederate Army had suffered a significant defeat by not dislodging their enemy. A Confederate staff officer remarked that Lee was “not in good humor over the miscarriage of his plans and his orders.”

Longstreet’s refusal to take account of the changed conditions in implementing his orders had disastrous consequences for the Confederates on Day 2. Other than the slaughter of their troops in places like the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den, Big Round Top and Little Round Top; they did not accomplish any military objectives. In the compliance world the failure to take changed or different circumstances into account can have negative consequences as well. I thought about some of these concepts when reading a recent article in the May issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR), entitled “Navigating the Cultural Minefield”, by Erin Meyer, where she wrote about learning how to work more effectively with people from other countries. As all Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) or compliance practitioners who work in a company subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) work with employees outside the United States I found her insights useful when thinking about how to deal with employees from other cultures.

Myer has developed a tool she calls the Culture Map. It consists of eight scales representing the management behaviors where cultural gaps are most common. By comparing the position of one nationality relative to another on each scale, the user can decode how culture influences day-to-day collaboration. Her eight scales are “based on decades of academic research into culture from multiple perspectives. To this foundation I have added my own work, which has been validated by extensive interviews with thousands of executives who have confirmed or corrected my findings.” They are:

Communicating. Meyer compares cultures along the Communicating scale by measuring the degree to which they are high- or low-context, a metric developed by the American anthropologist Edward Hall. She believes that in “low-context cultures, good communication is precise, simple, explicit, and clear. Messages are understood at face value. Repetition is appreciated for purposes of clarification, as is putting messages in writing.” This contrasted with high-context cultures, where “communication is sophisticated, nuanced, and layered. Messages are often implied but not plainly stated. Less is put in writing, more is left open to interpretation, and understanding may depend on reading between the lines.”

Evaluating. Here Meyer “measures a preference for frank versus diplomatic negative feedback. Evaluating is often confused with Communicating, but many countries have different positions on the two scales.” She notes that the French “are high-context (implicit) communicators relative to Americans, yet they are more direct in their criticism” but “Spaniards and Mexicans are at the same context level, but the Spanish are much more frank when providing negative feedback.”

Persuading. Meyer notes that the manner “in which you persuade others and the kinds of arguments you find convincing are deeply rooted in your culture’s philosophical, religious, and educational assumptions and attitudes.” So, for instance, a senior “Western executive will break down an argument into a sequence of distinct components (specific thinking), while Asian managers tend to show how the components all fit together (holistic thinking).” But she evens delineates this scale further by finding that, “people from southern European and Germanic cultures tend to find deductive arguments (what I refer to as principles-first arguments) most persuasive, whereas American and British managers are more likely to be influenced by inductive logic (what I call applications-first logic).”

Leading. This scale measures the degree of respect and deference shown to authority figures, placing countries on a spectrum from egalitarian to hierarchical.

Deciding. Meyer articulates that this scale, measures the degree to which a culture is consensus-minded. She believes that Westerners wrongly believe that the “most egalitarian cultures will also be the most democratic, while the most hierarchical ones will allow the boss to make unilateral decisions.” She found that while “Germans are more hierarchical than Americans, but more likely than their U.S. colleagues to build group agreement before making decisions.” Further. she noted that the “Japanese are both strongly hierarchical and strongly consensus-minded.”

Trusting. Meyer splits this into the old ‘from the head’ (cognitive trust) or ‘from the heart’ (affective trust) analysis. She wrote, “In task-based cultures, trust is built cognitively through work. If we collaborate well, prove ourselves reliable, and respect one another’s contributions, we come to feel mutual trust. In a relationship-based society, trust is a result of weaving a strong affective connection. If we spend time laughing and relaxing together, get to know one another on a personal level, and feel a mutual liking, then we establish trust.”

Disagreeing. While Westerners, particularly Americans, tend to believe that a little open disagreement is healthy; other “cultures actually have very different ideas about how productive confrontation is for a team or an organization. This scale measures tolerance for open disagreement and inclination to see it as either helpful or harmful to collegial relationships.”

Scheduling. This one is my personal bane as there are some cultures that take the position that people treat scheduling, deadlines and meeting times as a mere “suggestion.” Her “scale assesses how much value is placed on operating in a structured, linear fashion versus being flexible and reactive.”

From this scale, Meyer has developed four rules to help bridge the cultural gap.

  1. Do Not Underestimate the Challenge. Most management styles have been developed over a lifetime of work. For most CCOs this includes a stint in a corporate legal department. But as Meyer notes, “Succeeding would depend on taking an entirely different approach and making ongoing adjustments over the long term.” Further, you may well need to unlearn many of the techniques that have made you successful.
  2. Apply Multiple Perspectives. More than simply recognizing the cultural perception of other employees is not enough as you will need to look “through multiple lenses.” Meyer writes that you need to understand the cultural position of one country to another, subsequently “You need to understand how the Koreans perceive the Indians, how the Indians perceive the Brazilians, and so on, and manage across the map. As you learn to look through multiple lenses, you may see that on some scales the Brazilians, for example, view the Indians in a very different way than the Koreans do.”
  3. Find the Positive in Other Approaches. Here people tend to see the negative when looking at how other cultures work but Meyer suggests that you should try and understand what it is that makes a cultural work. Further, if you have a compliance team from different cultural backgrounds this can bring strength to your overall position. Lastly, you can achieve a “complex understanding of various [cultural] strengths on the team” so that you can choose the best players for going forward.
  4. Adjust and The Readjust Your Position. Meyer believes that “More and more teams are made up of diverse and globally dispersed members. So as a leader, you’ll frequently have to tweak or adapt your own style to better mesh with your working partners. It’s not enough to shift to a new position on a single scale; you’ll need to widen your comfort zone so that you can move more fluidly back and forth along all eight.”

Meyer’s article provides some very good insight for the compliance practitioner. We all will have to deal with many cultures in a multi-national corporate compliance practice. By using the techniques that Meyer has developed you can not only come to understand how better to lead but also you can use your team members from other cultures to facilitate greater communication of compliance principles, training and issues throughout the organization.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2014

 

June 23, 2014

An Event That Changed the World and Fostering Compliance Leadership – Part I

Archduke Ferdinand AssassinationThis coming Saturday, June 28th, is the 100th anniversary of most probably the single most momentous event of the 20th century; the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo, then located in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I view it as the singular event of the prior century because it led directly to the following events: the First World War, the Second World War, the Russian Revolution, the fall of the Hapsburg, Romanov and Prussian monarchies, the Cold War and a host of other events. One can point to 1963 in Dallas and 9/11 as direct descendants of the actions of the Sarajevo assassins.

One of the best articles I have ever read on the assassination was in the March 22nd edition of the Financial Times (FT) in a piece by Simon Kuper, entitled ‘The crossroads of history”. Kuper returned to modern day Sarajevo “to try and understand his act in its local context – the context both of 1914 and 2104.” I think that Kuper did come to some understanding through his reporting, which I found to be first rate. The attack on the Archduke itself came about through a plethora of mis-steps, foolish decisions and idiotic mistakes that rival any modern day industrial catastrophe. Kuper quoted the author Rebecca West for the following, “Nobody worked to ensure the murder on either side as the people who were murdered.” As this assassination started Europe down a road that led to well over 20 million deaths, it is an appropriate start to many more posts I will have during the centenary of 1914.

Just as Gavrilo Princip changed the course of history, I recently read an article in the May edition of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) which I think could significantly modify how you, as a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner, will think about getting employees to “apply their talent and energy to move organizations forward” in compliance and ethics. The article is entitled “Blue Ocean Leadership”. In this two-part series I will explain the authors view of the problem that “According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report, 50% of employees merely put their time in, while the remaining 20% act out their discontent in counterproductive ways, negatively influencing their coworkers, missing days on the job, and driving customers away through poor service. Gallup estimates that the 20% group alone costs the U.S. economy around half a trillion dollars each year.” The authors believe that “poor leadership is a key cause” of this problem. The authors posit that leadership is a “service that people in an organization “buy” or “don’t buy” and when employees come to value you as a leader, they “in effect buy your leadership.”

Today I will focus on how ‘Blue Ocean Leadership’ differs from conventional leadership and tomorrow I will review strategies of how to execute this type of leadership and explore its implications for the CCO or compliance practitioner.

Key Differences from Conventional Leadership Approaches

The authors point to three key differences between ‘Blue Ocean Leadership’ and traditional leadership approaches.

The first key difference is that ‘Blue Ocean Leadership’ “focuses on what acts and activities leaders need to undertake to boost their teams’ motivation and business results, not on who leaders need to be. This difference in emphasis is important. It is markedly easier to change people’s acts and activities than their values, qualities, and behavioral traits. Of course, altering a leader’s activities is not a complete solution, and having the right values, qualities, and behavioral traits matters. But activities are something that any individual can change, given the right feedback and guidance.”

The second under ‘Blue Ocean Leadership’ is to “connect closely to market realities”. This is accomplished by having “the people who face market realities are asked for their direct input on how their leaders hold them back and what those leaders could do to help them best serve customers and other key stakeholders. And when people are engaged in defining the leadership practices that will enable them to thrive, and those practices are connected to the market realities against which they need to perform, they’re highly motivated to create the best possible profile for leaders and to make the new solutions work.” This allows not only employee buy-in both also quicker and more efficient engagement of the implementation of a leaders program.

The third key difference is that ‘Blue Ocean Leadership’ distributes leadership across all levels of management. The authors quoted one senior executive who said, “The truth is that we, the top management, are not in the field to fully appreciate the middle and frontline actions. We need effective leaders at every level to maximize corporate performance.” However ‘Blue Ocean Leadership’ is more robustly “designed to be applied across the three distinct management levels: top, middle, and frontline. It calls for profiles for leaders that are tailored to the very different tasks, degrees of power, and environments you find at each level. Extending leadership capabilities deep into the front line unleashes the latent talent and drive of a critical mass of employees, and creating strong distributed leadership significantly enhances performance across the organization.”

The Four Steps of Blue Ocean Leadership

Most importantly the authors believe that you have to see your leadership for what it is and not what you wish it to be. If you do not have a “common understanding of where leadership stands and is falling short, a forceful case for change cannot be made.” The authors created a template that they called “Leadership Canvases” which are visual representations to show what leaders actually do, rather than what they think they do. The authors’ research showed that 20% to 40% of all actions taken by managers are of little value to the organization. This led to the “biggest “aha” for the subteams was that senior managers appeared to have scarcely any time to do the real job of top management—thinking, probing, identifying opportunities on the horizon, and gearing up the organization to capitalize on them.”

Based upon this initial finding, the authors began to explore alternative leadership profiles. Here you are required “to think beyond the bounds of the company and focus on effective leadership acts they’ve observed outside the organization, in particular those that could have a strong impact if adopted by internal leaders at their level. Here fresh ideas emerge about what leaders could be doing but aren’t. This is not, however, about benchmarking against corporate icons; employees’ personal experiences are more likely to produce insights. Most of us have come across people in our lives who have had a disproportionately positive influence on us. It might be a sports coach, a schoolteacher, a scoutmaster, a grandparent, or a former boss. Whoever those role models are, it’s important to get interviewees to detail which acts and activities they believe would add real value for them if undertaken by their current leaders.”

The next step begins to take what I call some real corporate courage. It requires that middle and frontline managers critique what senior management has come up with in step 2, developing alternative leadership profiles. Some of the more interesting changes were ‘Cut through the Crap’ in which “frontline leaders did not defer the vast majority of customer queries to middle management and spent less time jumping through procedural hoops. Their time was directed to training frontline personnel to deliver on company promises on the spot” and to resolve problems. Another was ‘Liberate, Coach and Empower’ where leaders “time and attention shifted from controlling to supporting employees.” Finally, there was ‘Delegate and Chart the Company’s Future’ where the front and middle line managers had more responsibility so “senior managers would be freed up to devote a significant portion of their time to thinking about the big picture—the changes in the industry and their implications for strategy and the organization. They would spend less time putting out fires.”

Blue Ocean Leadership’ challenges companies to allow its employees to “think about which acts and activities leaders should do less of because they hold people back, and which activities they should do more of because they inspire people to give their all.” Just as you begin to think through the changes wrought by one action in a small town, very long ago, which changed the 20th Century forever, you may wish to use these concepts to think about how your leadership can be made more effective.

In tomorrow’s post I will look at how the authors believe you can execute a ‘Blue Ocean Leadership’ change in your company.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2014

June 11, 2014

Semper Fi and Compliance-Leadership Lessons from the Marines

Marines as Devil DogsEver wonder where the US Marine Corp got its nickname of ‘hellhounds’? It came courtesy of the Imperial Germany Army from a battle that took place in the month of June 1918, the Battle of Belleau Wood. According to the Battle’s entry in Wikipedia, the Marines forces marched 10K to reach a site where the German Army had broken through against the French Army. After arriving on the site and turning back the German advance, the Marines were repeatedly urged to turn back by retreating French forces, Marine Captain Lloyd W. Williams of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, uttered the now-famous retort Retreat? Hell, we just got here.” 

After the battle, the French renamed the wood “Bois de la Brigade de Marine” (“Wood of the Marine Brigade”) in honor of the Marines’ tenacity. The French government also later awarded the 4th Brigade the Croix de guerre. An official German report classified the Marines as “vigorous, self-confident, and remarkable marksmen…” General Pershing – Commander of the American Expeditionary Force – even said, “The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!” Pershing also said “the Battle of Belleau Wood was for the U.S. the biggest battle since Appomattox and the most considerable engagement American troops had ever had with a foreign enemy.” But it was the Germans who gave the Marine Corp its most lasting moniker, when the called them ‘the dogs from hell.’ Tribute indeed.

I thought about this tribute to the Marine Corp when I recently read an article in the Corner Office section of the New York Times (NYT), entitled “Leading By Putting Your Followers First”, by Adam Bryant. In this article, he profiled Don Knauss, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Clorox Company. Knauss joined the Marine Corp after college and this experience gave him some valuable leadership lessons that Bryant detailed in his article. One of the things that influenced Knauss’ philosophy on leadership was the Marine Corp process of thinking through an issue. Bryant wrote, “I learned in the Marine Corps that I really liked strategy. Every operation in the military is based on a five-paragraph order, and the acronym is Smeac — situation, mission, execution, administration and communication. It’s a very logical flow.”

Another key leadership lesson is defined by the age-old acronym KISS or Keep it simple, sir. Bryant wrote that Knauss said, “how are you going to focus the organization? And it had better be simple, and it probably should not be more than three things. You’ve got to communicate it about 100 times and align your incentive structure to it. It’s about distilling the complex to the simple, and I’ve seen leaders fail because they do the reverse, by trying to make things into some intellectual exercise. Whatever business you’re in, there are fundamentals, just like blocking and tackling in football. It always comes back to the fundamentals. You cannot let yourself get bored with the fundamentals.”

But more than simply communicating something about 100 times to get your message across, Knauss believes that you have to make sure that people believe that you care about them. That is certainly something a compliance practitioner needs to take to heart. Knauss reflected, “it’s all about your people. If you’re going to engage the best and the brightest and retain them, they’d better think that you care more about them than you care about yourself. They’re not about making you look good. You’re about making them successful. If you really believe that and act on that, it gains you credibility and trust. You can run an organization based on fear for a short time. But trust is a much more powerful, long-term and sustainable way to drive an organization.”

Knauss had some interesting insights relating to how he evaluates potential hires that I think makes a lot of sense for the compliance professional to consider.

  1. Passion – Knauss looks for energy and considers whether the person will have an impact on the business.
  2. Smarts – Can the candidate think analytically, creatively and strategically?
  3. Develop others – Is there any pattern in the person’s career that shows they can develop people or put inversely, did people move up through an organization because they were mentored by this person?
  4. Communication skills – Knauss considers if he can imagine this person on a stage, inspiring a large group? He also assesses whether the candidate has an easy, informal manner to conversely test if they are too formal and too focused on hierarchy, as Knauss believes formality and rigidity do not work.
  5. Use of power v. use of authority – Here Knauss believes “it is much more powerful to use authority than power. One of the things I’ve learned is that as you move up in an organization, you’re given more power. The less you use the power you’ve been given, the more authority people give you, because they think: “You know what? This guy’s O.K.” Persuading people to do things – come along with me because we’re going in the right direction – is much more powerful over time.”
  6. Values – Knauss said that the final thing he tries to evaluate is the values of a candidate. He considers that it is important that they are honest and will tell the truth. Moreover, “do they also stand up for what they think is right in the company? It starts with integrity, which is really the grease of commerce. You get things done much more quickly when people trust you.”

However, I found one of the most important lessons that Knauss intoned was about how a leader should treat people. He told the story about how he joined a group of Marines who had been in the field for several weeks and had been eating C-rations. When Knauss met them, they were having their first hot meal since going into the field. Knauss related, “I had been up since 5 in the morning, and I was pretty hungry. I started walking over to get in front of the line, and this gunnery sergeant grabbed my shoulder and turned me around. He said: “Lieutenant, in the field the men always eat first. You can have some if there’s any left.” I said, “O.K., I get it.” That was the whole Marine Corps approach – it’s all about your people; it’s not about you. And if you’re going to lead these people, you’d better demonstrate that you care more about them than you care about yourself. I’ve never forgotten that, and that shaped my whole approach to leadership from then on.”

That final lesson is the most important one for any compliance practitioner. Your gold-plated written compliance program is only as strong as the people you have in your company. If you can demonstrate, and lead in compliance, by showing your fellow company employees that you are there to assist them but you will also go the extra mile to make them understand you care about them, you will get much more out of them at the end of the day.

===============================================================================================================================================================================================================================================


M&AIf you are interested in learning about mergers and acquisitions under the FCPA I am involved in to upcoming events designed to give you the most up-to-date advice on this area of compliance. Both events are sponsored by The Network. The first event is a webinar entitled appropriately enough, “Mergers and Acquisitions Under the FCPA” and is scheduled for  Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 TIME: 2:00 pm EDT. For registration and additional information click here. On Tuesday, June 24th the always popular Tom Fox/Stephen Martin roadshow returns to Denver where I will speak live on Merger and Acquisitions Under the FCPA and Stephen will talk about risk assessments under the FCPA. For information on the Denver event, click here

 

 

 

World Cup 2014

I am putting on a four part podcast series on the World Cup, detailing issues of bribery and corruption, together with an ongoing discussion of Team USA and this year’s tournament. I am joined by Mike Brown, the Managing Director of Infortal. You can check out Part I by clicking here of the series where we discuss bribery of referees in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa and FIFA’s response. Mike and I then review Team USA and it’s draw in Group g-the Group of Death. I hope that you will check out this series and enjoy it as much as Mike and I enjoy recording the episodes. Also remember, my podcast, the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Report is available for download at no charge on iTunes so you can listen to Part I on your commute to work. So sign up for the podcast from WordPress or iTunes and enjoy our series.

===============================================================================================================================================================================================================================================

 

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com. 

© Thomas R. Fox, 2014

 

 

 

 

March 10, 2014

Compliance Leadership Lessons from Captain Kirk

Captain KirkAs readers of this blog know, I am an über Star Trek maven. Last week, in Episode 41 of  my podcast, the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Report,  I visited with John Champion, one of the co-hosts of the Mission Log podcast. Mission Log will eventually review all of the Star Trek television episodes and movie franchise entries. John and his co-host Ken Ray began their journey summer of 2012 and have managed to get through all 79 episodes of the original Star Trek television series. They will next turn to the Star Trek movies, the animated television series, then to Star Trek – The Next Generation and on down the line of the world built by Gene Roddenberry.

I met John at the NMX Annual Conference earlier this year. I heard him talking about his podcast and checked it out. I also asked him if I could interview him for my podcast, specifically on the leadership lessons that a compliance practitioner might draw from the original captain of the Enterprise, James T. Kirk. John graciously took time out of busy schedule to visit with me on leadership, Star Trek and his podcast, Mission Log.

Champion views the leadership style of Captain Kirk as one that greatly depends on the inputs from the group that surrounds him; specifically Lt. Commander Spock and the ship’s physician, Dr. Leonard McCoy (Bones). In other words, his senior management team. More insightfully, Champion noted that it is the interplay of these three characters, Kirk, Spock and McCoy that not only makes the television series work so well but it also informs what he termed the “leadership psyche” of ethos, pathos and logos.

In the Greek world, these three were believed to be the key to successful leadership. Ethos is the Greek word for ‘character’. Through ethos, a leader stands as an authority figure, through credibility, competence and/or special expertise. Pathos is the Greek word for both ‘suffering’ and ‘experience’. It is generally recognized as the more compassionate side of humanity. Logos generally refers to the more rational side of humans. The best definition I have found for logos is on the site, PathosEthosLogos.com, which says that “Logos is the Greek word for “word,” however the true definition goes beyond that, and can be most closely described as that by which the inward thought is expressed and the inward thought itself”.

In the original Star Trek all three of these traits are identified in one character. Kirk, the ship’s captain, is the authoritarian figure. Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan subscribes to the Vulcan ideology of suppressing one’s emotions in favor of logic. Finally, Bones is the romantic of the three and clearly speaks for the Greek concept of pathos. Champion’s dissection of Kirk’s leadership is that he takes all three of these concepts and uses them in his analysis. While clearly, at the end of the day, the decisions are the final responsibility of Kirk, he does actively seek input from his trusted advisors before coming to his final choice.

For the compliance practitioner, this means that you should seek a wide variety of inputs for your decision-making calculus. The Machiavellian trait of seeking trusted advise from experienced advisors, (Subject Matter Experts – SMEs) is certainly in play here. But by incorporating these three very different concepts into the way you might think through an issue can help you to evaluate a greater range of considerations. Monitoring, auditing and similar oversight techniques can bring you the logical examinations through data. But data is, in the final analysis, a product of human actions so the data must be read with some measure of humanity or human character. Values are not numbers but how we assign actions to that raw data? Finally, the ethos must be taken into account. Obviously there must be an ethical component to any decision made, but ethos also speaks to the character of the decision. Was the decision made using all the facts that were, or should have been, available to the decision-maker?

I thought about Champion’s remarks when I read the New York Times (NYT) Corner Office column by Adam Bryant, entitled “When Ideas Collide, Don’t Duck”. In this article, Bryant reported on his interview with Jeff Lawson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Twillio, a cloud communications company. Lawson spoke about all three Greek leadership concepts in both his education in being a company head. From the ethos perspective, he spoke about his grandfather who built and sold a hardware company in Detroit. Then in his 70s, his grandfather took a job as a manufacturer’s representative, selling paint accessories to hardware stores that had previously been his competitors. His grandfather did this for another 20 years and when he died, Lawson said, “The Owner of every hardware store in Detroit came to the funeral. It was amazing.”

Lawson had another insight, which related to pathos and it revolved around feedback. He said, “This is especially important with millennial workers, who really want feedback. They want to always be learning, always be growing, and they’re looking for that constant feedback. It’s not that they’re looking for constant praise, but rather they want to keep score. They want to know how they’re doing.  Part of it is the short cycle of Internet feedback, and people who grew up with the Internet just expect quick feedback on things. That’s just part of the changing ethos, especially with younger workers. If you get into the habit of regular feedback, it’s not confrontational; it’s just the ebb and flow of conversation and a constant tweaking of how you work with somebody.”

Lawson incorporates the logos concept into his leadership set as well. He does this in the context of empowering employees to come up with new ideas but requires these employees to validate them to move forward. He said, “A lot of our values are about empowering employees. “Draw the owl” is a favorite. It’s based on the Internet meme of how to draw an owl. It says: “Step 1, draw some circles. Step 2, draw the rest of the owl.” That’s what it takes to be an entrepreneur — you have to put aside all the reasons you think you can’t do something or figure it out. Our job is to come in every day and take a vague problem that we don’t know how to solve and figure out the solution.”

Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? I am never too sure. But from my chat with John Champion, it is clear that even such a cultural marvel as Captain James T. Kirk can provide leadership lessons for the compliance practitioner.

If you have not yet done so, I hope you will go over and check out my podcasts at the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Report. I am up to Episode 41 and should have a couple more up this week. 

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2014

January 6, 2014

A Lot of Pain in KC and Leadership in Compliance

This past weekend saw some great football. However, if you are a Kansas City Chiefs fan, you are probably not feeling too positive about the game on Saturday as the Chiefs blew the second largest lead in a National Football League (NFL) playoff game, 28 points, in losing to the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs long suffering fans have not seen a playoff win in 20 years. However, I did see the Chiefs last playoff win, in 1994, when they upset the now defunct Houston Oilers in Houston. That devastating loss was only exceeded by the loss the previous year in Buffalo, where the Oilers set the record for losing the largest lead in a playoff game, that being 35 points. For you Chief fans out there, while the pain never goes away at least you have the possibility of winning a playoff game at some point in the future.

While sports fans can relive the triumphs and tragedies of their team’s ad naseum corporate leaders cannot not afford to do so. One key resource I have found, for not only the ideas of what a leader needs to do but the practical aspect of how leadership works in an organization, is through the New York Times (NYT) Sunday column Corner Office by Adam Bryant. In this week’s paper, Bryant wrote about his new book, scheduled to be released on Tuesday, entitled “Quick and Nimble: Lessons From Leading C.E.O.’s on How to Create a Culture of Innovation”. In the article Bryant highlighted “six key drivers that every organization needs to foster an effective culture that will encourage everyone to do their best work”. I think these six concepts are excellent areas for a compliance practitioner to consider in moving forward a compliance regime.

A Simple Plan

Bryant wrote about Tracy Streckenbach, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hillview Consulting LLC. She believes that you should have defined and measurable goals. From there, “you make sure each and every department knows them, and how their work will support the overall goals.” Streckenbach called them ‘Key Result Areas (KRAs)” and advocated that they be used up and down, “from senior managers to file clerks”, within the organization with complete transparency. By doing so, employees understand how they are helping the company to move forward.

Rules of the Road

Mark Templeton, CEO of Citrix Systems Inc, believes that “guidelines for behavior can help employees concentrate on the work at hand, rather than on navigating the stressful politics that arise when all sorts of bad behaviors are tolerated.” The company has a culture based on three core values, “respect, integrity and humility.” Templeton believes that people want, as employees, to be a part of an organization that believes in something positive. He said that Citrix has “clarity around where we’re going, and then they get to fill in how we’re going to get there — with the right kind of management, of course, and leadership, and the right kind of processes and metrics.”

A Little Respect

Here Bryant looked to Richard R. Buery Jr., CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, who sustained such a bad experience with a former supervisor that the experience provided extra motivation to be in a leadership position so that he could influence culture. That value is respect. Another CEO, John Duffy of 3Cinteractive, said that by making respect a core value of the company, “it frees up colleagues to challenge one another.” This allows employees to talk to and challenge one another more easily so that you can have “the ability to arrive at the right decision so much quicker and so much easier.”

It’s About the Team

Bryant notes that respect should be only one part of the equation, as he sees it. There must also be performance and accountability. He wrote, “Call it trustworthiness, or dependability. What it means is that you recognize your role on the team. When everyone does that, the team can focus on executing the strategy, instead of worrying whether colleagues will do what they’re supposed to do. (And such concerns, multiplied across an entire organization, can add up to a lot of wasted energy and lost momentum.)” This can be particularly true in a small organization, which, due its size, can be more nimble but, as quoted by Steve Stoute, CEO of Translation LLC, “the threat is that when one person catches a cold, everybody catches a cold.”

Adult Conversations

One of the problems in any organization is that subordinates are afraid to bring less than sterling news to superiors and so the frank discussions about resolving problems which needs to occur, does not occur. Bryant termed these “adult conversations”. He quoted Seth Besmertnik, CEO of Conductor Inc., who related that “A lot of my growth as a manager has been around conquering my own insecurity and gaining confidence.” Besmertnik went on to state that “When you’re confident, you can give people feedback. You can be candid. You feel secure enough to say what’s really on your mind, to bring someone in the room and say: ‘You did this. It really made me feel XYZ.’ Having good conversations is really 80 percent of being an effective manager.”

The Hazards of Email

Bryant believes that “Email is a hot-button issue, and clearly a source of endless frustration”; the reason being that they can be so easily misinterpreted “with often-disastrous consequences for the culture of an organization, because they can damage whatever connective tissue exists between colleagues.” Bryant believes that what people really need to do is talk. Bryant wrote about the experiences of Nancy Aossey, CEO of International Medical Corps, who said that “People change when they talk in person about a problem, not because they chicken out, but because they have the benefit of seeing the person, seeing their reaction, and getting a sense of the person. But arguing over email is about having the last word. It plays into something very dangerous in human behavior. You want to have the last word, and nothing brings that out more than email because you can sit there and hit ‘send,’ and then it just kind of ratchets up and you don’t have the benefit of knowing the tone.”

This problem of interpretation of email only compounds in an international organization where there are multiple business unit across many different geographic and cultural areas. What may be seen as acceptable in the United States may be far from acceptable in Europe, Asia or anywhere else. So by talking in person or over the phone, you can not only not only avoid dangerous misunderstandings, but you can also develop relationships and a sense of trust with colleagues. These are essential ingredients in fostering the kind of high-performing culture that drives compliance.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2014

January 3, 2014

Some Thoughts On Leadership

Filed under: Culture,Ethical Leadership,Ethics,Gini Dietrich,Leadership — tfoxlaw @ 7:05 am
Tags: ,

Ed. Note-I read the below post by Gini Dietrich,CEO of  founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich . It is one of the most powerful posts I have ever read on what it means to be a leader. It gave me the novel idea that perhaps leaders of companies which commit FCPA violations could actually take responsibility for their companies actions, rather than try to claim the ubiquitous ‘rogue employee(s)’ were responsible. I asked Gini if I could repost her piece which she graciously allowed me to do. 

When I was a kid, I remember my dad coming home from work one day and saying a guy had been fired.

The image I had in my head was the guy literally on fire. I couldn’t understand a) why anyone would do that to another person and b) why that was okay.

In retrospect, I was probably eavesdropping on a conversation between my parents so it served me right to have that image and all those questions.

What I later learned – much, much later – is being a business leader isn’t always rainbows and sunshine.

You sometimes have to fire people. You sometimes have to have conflict-filled conversations. You sometimes have people who end up hating you. And you always have to take responsibility when something goes wrong.

Embezzlement and the IRS

In 2009, as the economy was crashing around us and organizations were shutting their doors, I learned the accountant we used had embezzled money from us.

We owed the IRS a lot of money we thought we had already paid. As it turned out, we had paid it to the accountant who never sent the check, but managed to cash it himself.

It was a great, big mess and it took a long time to figure out what had happened and how he had managed to get a check made out to the government cashed.

But he did.

And, as the leader, I was responsible.

Even though I did everything I was supposed to have done and I had no idea this was going on, it was my responsibility.

There were lots of tears shed and I’m pretty sure I said, “This just isn’t fair” about six thousand times.

But, in the words of my mom, “Life isn’t fair.”

We got the whole thing straightened out and we ended up having to pay quite a bit of money to the IRS, but it could have been a lot worse. There could have been jail time. It could have been really, really bad.

Being a Leader isn’t Always Fair

Sometimes the people you trust to do their jobs do bad things. And you have to take responsibility.

It isn’t right. It isn’t fair. But it’s part of being a leader.

A few months ago, we had a situation where an employee was accused of doing a bad thing. We took the appropriate measures to look into the accusation. We also had conversations with the accused and the accuser. We came up on the side of the employee.

But a couple of weeks ago, new evidence came to light and it pointed in favor of the accuser.

Imagine the panic I felt when this was brought to my attention. Not only did I defend the accused when the issue first came up, I did so very publicly. I completely and wholeheartedly trusted this person. But now the cold, hard facts in front of me proved otherwise.

Hindsight is 20/20

In hindsight, 20/20 vision, it’s easy to now see the one thing we missed when the situation occurred.

We missed it initially. I missed it.

I live and die by my ethics. The culture here is one of honesty, transparency, and accountability. We hire people who demonstrate those same characteristics.

But sometimes things go awry.

I don’t think this person is bad. I don’t think this situation was done intentionally. It could have been a case of too much work or being overwhelmed or simply wanting to put a best foot forward without thinking through the consequences.

It happened. What’s done is done. I missed – or blissfully ignored – the facts.

When you discover someone on your team has been unethical, untruthful, or downright criminal, you not only have to take action, you have to take responsibility.

With being a leader comes great responsibility…and sometimes that means falling on your sword.

A version of this first appeared on Spin Sucks.

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm. She is the lead blogger at PR and marketing blog, Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR, a weekly podcast about  communications and social media.

 

November 20, 2012

Rachael Carson, Silent Spring and Compliance Leadership

One of the constant tensions in any corporate compliance department or legal department is when to exercise leadership. While many corporate executives fall into the “lawyers are better seen than heard from” camp there are times when we must say ‘No’. While Mike Volkov continually sounds the horn against compliance practitioners becoming ‘Dr. No’ to which I would add inhabiting ‘the Land of No’ it’s a component of the job. The question is twofold; when to say no and how to say no.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachael Carson’s seminal and transformative work “Silent Spring” which in many ways directly led to the modern environmental movement. Rachael Carson’s “life shows that individual agency, fueled by resolution and hard work, has the power to change the world.” The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970; the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which began operations in 1972; the banning of the use of the pesticide DDT in the United States and the enactment of both the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the Endangered Species Act in 1973; all of which began with Carson’s book.

I thought about this question of when and how to say no when reading a recent article in the New York Times (NYT) by Nancy Cohen, entitled “From Calm Leadership, Last Change. In this piece Cohen looked at the life of Rachael Carson, her seminal work “Silent Spring” and leadership. Silent Spring was on the seminal works that I read during college. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the wealth of information and data that Carson packed into her book. While I had some sense of the importance of the book as one of the first on what we now call environmentalism, at that time I was not aware that the book and Carson played a central role in starting the environmental movement, by forcing government and businesses to confront the dangers of pesticides.

What are the compliance leadership lessons that Carson’s experience demonstrate? Cohen initially noted that “As a professor at Harvard Business School, I encountered the great depth of her work when I was creating a course on the history of leadership.”
Cohen learned that Carson wrote “Silent Spring” as she battled breast cancer and after her niece died cared for her young child. Additionally, while “Unmarried and living in Silver Spring, Md., she also cared for and financially supported her ailing mother.” More importantly, after the book was published, Carson “faced an outburst of public reaction and a backlash from chemical companies. Yet throughout her personal and public struggles, she was an informed spokeswoman for environmental responsibility.”

Cohen gave three topical examples of Carson’s leadership which I believe are important for the compliance practitioner which speak to the question of ‘how’ to say ‘No’ when required to do so. The first is the importance of persistence in pursuing an objective. Business executives are usually struck by the ability to stay focused on goals in the face of obstacles.

Second, Cohen wrote about “the importance of doing thorough research and taking the long view. This means more than simply knowing the facts but also an understanding of history and culture are essential to understanding what is at stake in difficult and uncertain situations.” Cohen believes that this has the advantage of conferring “a sense of authority on the person who has acquired this knowledge.” In the compliance arena, this means more than simply understanding the obligations under the relevant anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws which apply to your company, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or UK Bribery Act, but applying them in jurisdictions across the globe.

The third lesson that Cohen writes about is that “the juggling of personal demands and professional ambitions in dealing with obligations to others while following professional drive. Carson’s story shows that times of great productivity can be followed by fallow periods when ambitions must be put aside for personal reasons.”

In addition to these three, others lessons can be drawn from Carson’s work. As noted by Cohen, Carson’s “life shows that individual agency, fueled by resolution and hard work, has the power to change the world.” For the compliance practitioner it is that leadership can come in all forms, in all shapes and sizes, even in an introvert. While most people assert leadership with traits such as charisma and aggressive, Cohen quoted Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, for the proposition that leadership can come in less obvious forms.

Leadership does not always come from the alphas of the world but sometimes from the introverts. The world might have been very different today if this most soft-spoken woman had not been so determined. As compliance practitioners we can not only draw inspiration from Rachael Carson’s work but leadership lessons as well.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

June 25, 2012

Breaking the Enigma Code: Creating a Functioning Compliance Culture

Sunday June 23rd was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, a man regarded as one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th Century. He is viewed as one of the pioneers of computer technology. However, he is probably best known for leading the British effort at Bletchley Park where the Germans top secret codes were broken during the Second World War (WWII), including the code they believed to be unbreakable, the Enigma Code. His work during WWII was completed before he was 35 years of age.

I thought about Turing and his success at a relatively young age whilst reading a ‘Corner Office’ article in the Sunday New York Times (NYT), entitled “Let Everyone Swim, But Just Make Sure You’re in the Pool”, by reporter Adam Bryant. In the article Bryant profiles Angie Hicks, one of the co-founders of Angie’s List and its current Chief Marketing Officer. Hicks had some interesting observations on leadership that I found applicable to creating a functional compliance effort within an organization, from compliance professionals to ethical leadership.

Make Sure You’re in the Pool

Hicks firmly believes that you have to give people a chance to succeed if you want your organization to grow. But such a focus means that you are going to fail sometimes. To use a football analogy, you usually don’t win by playing not to lose. People will make mistakes. Hicks believes that one of her roles as a leader is to give employees the confidence that if a mistake is made, she is the first to find out because her employees will come in and tell her without fear. Her group will test things and will sometimes make mistakes, but the point is that the mistakes are corrected. It sort of sounds like McNulty Maxim #3, “What did you do to remedy it?” So she lets her employees swim in the pool of new ideas and concepts but she stays within “arm’s length” so she can be there to grab them back if needed.

When in Doubt Talk to People

Hicks believes that you cannot over-communicate with your employees. Not only to praise and give employees feedback; but to develop that sense of trust which will lead to the types of communications outlined above. From the compliance perspective her views give rise to several thoughts. Remember the Morgan Stanley declination received in conjunction with the Garth Peterson Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in China? Several of the facts set forth by the Department of Justice (DOJ) were the routine communications by Morgan Stanley’s compliance group to Peterson regarding the FCPA. These were as simple as email reminders and included other techniques such as an annual Acknowledgment by employees that they had not violated the FCPA and were aware of the company’s Code of Conduct.

Create the Right Culture

Bryant ended his piece by discussing with Hicks how she builds an effective culture. Hicks believes that it is important to get not only the right mix of people but that you should start with the right type of person for your company. In other words, if you want to have an ethical culture in a company, you should strive to hire people who begin with a desire to do business ethically. But the step in your company’s evolution is to not only encourage people to get involved but to get them involved. Think about the power of compliance if you involve the business unit folks in the design, implementation and ongoing practice of your company’s compliance program. They should not be by-standers; you need to have them involved in your compliance program.

So how does this relate to Alan Turing and compliance? Remember, he led the team that broke the Enigma Code. It was a team motivated and focused. It seems to me that he put many of the concepts that Angie Hicks uses at Angie’s List into practice. We should all celebrate the code-breakers of Bletchley Park and recognize that by aligning a company towards creating a functioning ethical culture, a company can move forward successfully.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

January 11, 2012

Compliance Due Diligence Checks – The Reference Interview

A compliance evaluation is becoming a more common component of the employee selection and hiring process. Many companies now specifically include background checks (or due diligence in compliance parlance) when hiring senior managers or others who will hold high levels of authority for a company. Many practitioners feel that a reference is not of value because prospective candidates will only list references who they believe will provide glowing recommendations of character. This leads to a pro forma reference check. However, in an article in the January-February issue of the Harvard Business Review, entitled, “Gilt Groupe’s CEO on Building a Team of A Players” author Kevin Ryan explodes this misconception by detailing how he views the entire hiring process and specifically checking references.

In the hiring of personnel, Ryan details the three steps his company takes: (1) Resume review; (2) In-Person interview; and (3) Reference checks. Ryan believes that resumes are good for establishing “basic qualifications for the job, but not for much else.” He believes that the primary problem with in-person interviews is that they are skewed in favor of “persons who are well spoken [or] present well.” For Ryan, the key check is through references and he says that “References are really the only way to learn these things?”

Ryan recognizes that many people believe that reference checks are not of great value because companies cannot or will not give out much more information than confirming dates of employment. However, he also believes that “the way around it is to dig up people who will speak candidly.” He also recognizes that if you only speak to the references listed on a resume or other application, you may not receive the most robust appraisal. Ryan responds that the answer is to put in the work to check out references properly. Ryan believes this is one of the key strengths of search firms and that companies should emulate this practice when it comes to reference checks.

He notes that anyone who has worked in an industry for any significant length of time will have made many connections. Invariably some of these connections will be acquainted with you or those in your current, and former, company. Ryan gave the following example: A longtime friend who was employed at another company called and said that he had been asked by his hiring partner to find out “the real story” on a hiring candidate by asking Ryan his candid opinion of the candidate. Ryan’s response was “Don’t hire him.” Lest you think that such refreshing honesty no longer exists when informal employment references are provided, you are mistaken. In my past corporate position, I was charged in performing compliance due diligence on senior executives and I spent time doing what Ryan suggested, calling acquaintances that I knew and asking such direct questions. More than 75% of the time, I got direct responses.

Ryan believes that you must invest your company in the hiring process to get the right people for your company. The same is true in compliance. You do not want people with a propensity for engaging in corrupt acts working for, or leading, your company. As far back as Opinion Release 04-02 the Department of Justice (DOJ) realized this was an important part of an overall compliance program when it approved a proposed compliance program which had the following requirement:

Clearly articulated procedures which ensure that discretionary authority is not delegated to persons who the company knows have a propensity to engage in illegal or improper activities.

So give the reference check some respect, for if you respect it, it can be a valuable and useful tool for you and your compliance program.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

August 24, 2011

How to Engage Employees in Compliance

In the September 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, in an article entitled “How to Cultivate Engaged Employees, author Charalambos A. Vlachoutsicos wrote about his experiences in working for a family-owned multi-national organization. From his experiences he learned how to “engage contributions from and thereby promote engagement by, local employees” in a multi-national organization.” His article detailed some of his lessons learned in “fostering a sense of mutual dependence” or what he termed “mutuality”. I believe that the principles that he set out in his article can be of guidance to a compliance practitioner who is working across a wide spectrum of countries and cultures to foster a better working relationship between the Compliance Department and business units in an organization.

1.      Be Modest

Here Vlachoutsicos believes providing “condescending, absurdly detailed instructions” together with irrelevant stories is not the way to move forward in a meeting. If you recount your own experiences, relate them to your audience. Make clear to your business team that your ideas and advice can help them do more, and better, business. More importantly, show that you are human, that you make mistakes but that the point is you learn from your mistakes, not that the business unit personnel will be sanctioned immediately for one foul-up.

2.      Listen Seriously and Show It

Most companies teach managers the value of listening. However, communication is a multifaceted exercise and you must be aware of your cultural setting and surroundings. In some cultures it is viewed as rude to take extensive notes while listening to another person. If you must do this, explain in advance that you are taking notes and explain that no disrespect is intended. Conversely in some cultures it is viewed as an insult if you do not take notes because the employee you are listening to will feel that what they are saying is not even worth writing down.  Managing these signals is critical. But whatever culture you are in do not keep looking at your watch or take a cell phone call when involved in such a conversation.

3.      Invite Disagreement

You should view every interaction as an opportunity to tap into the expertise of your workforce. This requires you to let employees say what they think. One of the first (and most insistent) questions you will face as a compliance practitioner is explaining how and why the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) applies to a country and culture far from the United States. Another related question is often along the lines of the endemic corruption in a country and how the business unit personnel cannot do business any other way. Let your co-workers express these thought and sentiments and then explain why the law(s) applies and how they can do business going forward. The business unit will usually have a solution to these problems and if you can get them to engage with you, it may well be a solution for you and the company.

4.      Focus the Agenda

You will still need to focus the agenda of any group meeting. Failure to do so can lead to lengthy discussions and critical agenda items are never reached in the time allotted for a meeting. Vlachoutsicos suggests sequencing your issues according to importance so that the key issues are reached. If issues of lesser importance are not reached, they can be held over for another meeting or handled offline.

5.      Don’t Try to Have All the Answers

I learned from a very wise law school professor that only Socrates has all the answers and those were only to the questions which he posed to his students. A compliance professional should seem him or herself as a catalyst for problem solving. As a lawyer I understand that you are required to know law and compliance requirements. But remember-it is OK not to know everything. That is the whole point of collaboration.

6.      Don’t Insist that a Decision Must be Made

If you make a decision all the time the chances are that, some of that time, you may well make the wrong decision. But beyond this factor, people may stop proposing ideas to you because either think that “you already have your mind made up in advance” or that you know some fact that they do not which was pertinent to the decision. This could well quell any information which might come to you through dissent. The key here is not to avoid making a decision; it is to follow a process which allows input before final decision is made.

Vlachoutsicos’ six factors can be used by any company to help them work through collaboration issues. They show how you can create ‘mutuality’ with the work force. As a compliance practitioner your strongest asset is how you are perceived by the business folks. I think that if you take these factors to heart it will greatly help you to sell and improve the compliance message in your company.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2011

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.