Don’t Bore Your Board: Seven Tips for Delivering an Engaging Ethics & Compliance Board Training Experience

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If you are like most compliance officers, the thought of training your board on compliance risks may make your heart start beating just a little faster—and the task can quickly start to seem insurmountable. After all, it’s your board, and training them is entirely different than training your employees.

Plus, board members already know everything there is to know about the business—that’s why they’re board members. Right?

Wrong. This sort of thinking can sabotage your training session well before you even step foot into the board room!

Related Post: Building a Better Board Report: Essential Strategies for Chief Compliance Officers

Too often with board training, most of us fail to apply one of the foundational adult learning principles: make the training relevant to the audience.Translation: know your audience and what will click with them.

This is especially critical when training executives and board members who have very little free time. Your goal is to ensure you’re capitalizing on every minute they spend with you.

Here are seven tips to help you make the most of your board training time:

  1. Be Prepared
    Board training time is similar to Super Bowl commercial time—you’ve got to make every second count! Scan the news for recent, relevant stories that you can use as examples in your session. Know your content and have all of your handouts prepared in advance. There is no such thing as too much preparation when it comes to board training.
  2. Don’t Do a Data Dump
    Be strategic in the information you use in the training session, prioritizing the top risk topics you plan to cover.If this is annual training, your presentation should not focus on hotline case statistics, code completion rates, etc.While those metrics are extremely meaningful, use this annual opportunity to discuss the board’s roles, the organization’s most pressing risks and board members’ own personal risk.
  3. Make the Training Engaging 
    If we are completely honest, all of us have sat through training sessions checking our watches every minute dying to know when the session would end. Don’t let that be your board training! Look for ways to engage the attendees with approaches like case study scenarios or game simulations that allow them to quickly relate with the characters in the story. Anonymous voting devices are also a great way to get participants to answer challenging questions without having to worry about appearances in front of their peers. (No one likes to look uninformed—especially not board members!) When our consultants have used these approaches in their training sessions, they have always met with success.
  4. Be Willing to Tackle Difficult Issues, Like Culture 
    Culture is not usually in the board’s comfort zone. However, according to the Sentencing Guidelines, board members are required to “promote an organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct.” Help board members see the direct correlation between culture and financial performance. Share statistics (like financials) or benchmarking data to really drive the point home.
  5. Don’t Assume Your Board Knows Everything
    Remember that board members are people too—and compliance is one of many areas of the business they must stay up to date on. Give them a “refresher” on how to read hotline statistics and discuss how the statistics relate to other KPIs and operational metrics. Instead of drilling down into specific cases, take this time to discuss these KPIs from a strategic risk standpoint and emphasize how they impact the organization’s overall risk profile. Educate the board on role-specific topics such as your gifts and gratuities and conflicts of interest policies, with an emphasis on how these specific risk areas directly relate to them.
  6. Know When to Call In the Experts
    If there are difficult topics to be discussed or you believe the training content will be better received coming from an independent party, don’t be afraid to request assistance. Consider reaching out to consulting agencies who can assist with either content development or delivery.
  7. Don't be Overly Deferential
    While you should always be respectful of their roles, your job is to help board members understand their responsibilities and risks. You cannot effectively communicate this information if you start from a position of perceived weakness. Be confident in your content and delivery.

If you apply the tips above to prep and deliver your next board training session, you will likely never feel like board training is an insurmountable task again!


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