Three Critical Goals for Compliance Professionals in the New Year

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What is it about the new year that creates such optimism and excitement?  January 1 is not inherently different than May 1 or September 1, and yet it feels entirely more important.  The desire to start fresh is universal in human experience.  Within the compliance community we can use this energy to push our programs forward, to renew our commitment to our work and to set goals that pull us through the next 12 months. 

To make this the best year ever for your program and your professional development, try setting three specific types of goals.

  1. Program Goals

You are much more likely to make major progress in one or two areas that you specify rather than make little progress in many areas when your energy is splintered and unfocused.

If you haven’t written your compliance program goals for the new year, now is a great time to do it.  Try to make your goals specific and realistic, with a timeline associated with major milestones to keep you on track.  Program goals help to focus your energy so you don’t simply fight fires all year long.  You are much more likely to make major progress in one or two areas that you specify rather than make little progress in many areas when your energy is splintered and unfocused.  Try to pick areas about which you are excited, then envision how it will feel to have the goal completed at the end of the year.  Having a clear internal vision of the successfully completed goal will enable you to work toward it knowing that it can be done.

  1. Corporate Influence Goals

In addition to program goals, make goals relating to getting to know the influencers within your company.  Influencers can have overt or covert power.  Overt power is denoted by title; for example, CEO, Manager or Owner.  As important as it is to have the ear of those with overt power, it is also critical to get to know those with covert power.  People with covert power may or may not have high-level titles, but they are important because of their influence.  Frequently these people are charismatic or they are people who have been at the company a long time, and usually they are emotionally close to those with overt power. 

Identify two people with overt power and two people with covert power you wish to get closer to over the course of the year.  Ask them to lunch, make a point to go to their coffee station, or try to set up in-person training for their group.  Making a dedicated decision to work with corporate influencers will help you to be more effective when you need support. 


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  1. Networking and Professional Goals

Could this be the year you attend that academy or class on an area of compliance you’re not responsible for yet, like money laundering or data privacy?

As important as it is to grow your program and your influence within the company, it is critical that in the new year you also grow your professional network.  Write down at least one professional goal for this year.  Perhaps this is the year you get your CCEP or CCEP-I certification?  Is this the year you write an article for ethics and compliance publication?  Could this be the year you attend that academy or class on an area of compliance you’re not responsible for yet, like money laundering or data privacy?  Make a goal and work toward it. 

In addition to your professional goal, make a second resolution to meet at least one new person per month who works within the compliance profession.  If you meet just one person in the compliance field per month, by the end of the year you’ll have twelve new contacts.  That’s twelve more opportunities for people to refer you to your next job or promotion.  Meeting one person a month quickly leads to a network full of people you can introduce to each other, further expanding your influence. 

This year will be a fantastic year for you and the profession, but it will be even better if you plan for it to be great through goal setting. 

Connect with other compliance professionals on Compliance Next.


Kristy Grant-Hart the author of the book “How to be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer.”  She is CEO of Spark Compliance Consulting. She is a former CCO, and adjunct professor at Delaware Law School, Widener University.  She can be found at www.ComplianceKristy.com.   


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