Finding Joy when I Design Compliance Training

At the end of 2017, I set a one-word resolution for myself in the new year: joy.

More joy in my personal life, and more joy in my professional life – in what I design, in what I facilitate.

And then I was asked to develop a series of compliance training modules.  My resolution was at risk even before the new year began. 

Finding joy in the design of compliance training can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. It does, however, require two things:

  1. A pinch of creativity, and
  2. A dash of open-mindedness in the SME and/or others who are ultimately responsible for the compliance training itself.

Keep an Open Mind about Creativity

The first time I was asked to help design compliance training was several years ago. I was working with the director of Quality Assurance (QA) at a healthcare organization and as I talked with him about the importance of making sure the participants were engaged and were able to do something new or differently or better as a result of the training we were putting together, he looked at me and said: “Look, quality is boring. They just need to know this stuff. I don’t do touchy-feely!”

After working with him for several more weeks, this director of QA ended up writing a guest blog post here entitled: The Evolution of an SME. Spoiler alert, his final line was: “And to be honest, I guess I can do touchy-feely.”

I won’t engage in a debate about the phrase “touchy-feely” here, I’ll simply say that an open-minded SME or Quality Assurance project lead can make all the difference when it comes to inserting sound principles of adult learning into an otherwise dry slide deck of mandatory annual training.

Of course, helping to open that mind can sometimes be the greatest challenge.

Be Creative When Thinking About the Goal

As I worked with my most recent client, I asked: What is it that people should be able to do new or differently or better as a result of this training that is being developed?

The first answer was around the idea that staff simply needed to be aware of new policies and procedures. However, when we dug deeper, it was clear that if participants went beyond basic awareness and were not only exposed to forms and job aids and policies and procedures, but could actually use those forms or demonstrate that they knew where to go in the event of questions, then everyone would be happier. The compliance people would be happier because policies and procedures are being followed and there is less need to follow-up on audits, while staff performing tasks would be happier with a clearer understanding of what they needed to do, when they’d need to submit forms and where they could find more information at their own pace.

In addition to putting together a series of slides that offered information about policies and procedures and changes and things that are new in 2018, we’ve carved out time for participants to practice using forms, to practice identifying poorly completed assessment tools, to identify where the most common compliance errors come from.

Design Compliance Training to Go Beyond the Slide Deck

Is it a stretch to say that there will be joy in the training room when people are asked (or told) to attend this compliance training? Perhaps. But if staff walk away from these sessions able to demonstrate an ability to avoid common compliance mistakes and if the SMEs who will lead these sessions can go beyond the slide deck and allow their passion to show as they facilitate conversations around the activities in these sessions, then we’re a lot closer to joy than in most compliance training sessions.

Have you been tasked to design compliance training or other mandatory training? What have you found that’s worked?


Want to read more about how to design compliance training and make it more engaging? JD Dillon recently published this article about Going Beyond Compliance. He offers five things to keep in mind if you want to design compliance training to be effective when it comes to behavior change.

4 thoughts on “Finding Joy when I Design Compliance Training

  1. Thanks so much for this sentence – What is it that people should be able to do new or differently or better as a result of this training that is being developed?

    It’s not that I don’t normally think like this when putting training together but it reminds me to keep that question in mind in my planning.

    • Yes Missy! I have a friend who always tells me to BLOT my communication (Bottom Line On Top), and in this post my “bottom line” (which is exactly the question you highlighted) got buried a little. Thank you for highlighting it.

      That question is the key to moving beyond compliance (or any training) as a checkbox and toward compliance (or any training) as a good investment of time and resources!

  2. Great job taking a dry, raw topic and making it an entertaining, intriguing read! I can see how this translates in the actual presentation itself as well. You’ve got talent here!

    • Thanks so much JayDubb!

      It’s the name of the game for instructional design, right? Help people find ways to make their content more accessible to their learners!

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