Push or Pull – thoughts on Compliance!

Push or Pull – thoughts on Compliance!

Is compliance more an issue of Push or Pull?

Do we adhere to laws, rules, codes and standards because we have to,  we are pushed into it? Or do we do so because of pull factors – factors that enable us to see rather benefit of doing so. To be honest I think we all feel that although there is a combination of both push factors and pull factors when we think complying the push often shouts louder than the pull.

Perhaps an analogy will help us to see the benefit of trying to build more pull into our compliance programmes – especially the pull that can be built into our internal company/ business policies. Here  pull should be a greater factor than with externally imposed legislation and regulations – especially since these we actually design and control ourselves.

The best analogy for compliance that works is the sporting analogy. Sport works because of compliance – without compliance, it simply would not work. Compliance in sport is simply ‘playing by the rules’. And ‘playing by the rules’ is what we expect of sportspeople, and what it takes to excellent in sport long term. It is those sportsmen and women who find the best way to excellent within the framework of the rules that rise to the top.

Some characteristics of ‘playing by the rules’ are very important and critical to successfully sport;

  1. Playing by the rules creates certainty – certainty that everyone comprehends. For ‘sport’ to work everyone should be not only ‘playing by the rules ‘ but also ‘playing by the same set of rules’. This may sound obvious but too often different individual or groups within an organisation play by different sets of rules either because they do not have the same grasp or understanding of the rules or they believe that the rules that apply to others do not apply to them.
  2. Playing by the rules creates consistency. One of the movies I watched many years ago still stands out in my mind as an example of victory despite inconsistency. The setting was a Nazi concentration camp, prisoners of war were treated to the  opportunity to ‘play’ a group of their captors in a game of football. The match was refereed by one of the soldiers – and the application of the rules was extremely biased. You can imagine that this created the appropriate tension and drama as the group of captured prisoners, starting with the obvious disadvantages of injury and malnutrition faced their fit and healthy captors but more importantly faced the inconsistency of the ‘rules of the game’. In the movie, there was a ‘happy ending’ with the prisoners beating their captors – in reality, this seldom happens. In reality, inconsistency leads often to victimisation or abuse, or both.
  3. Playing by the rules enables comparison – especially comparison on a timeline, between the past and the future. And it is only when we can compare on a timeline with certainty and consistency that we can actually manage and improve the performance of a team or of a business. We can only do this because it is only in a certain and consistent context that we can assess whether the performance we get is due to the people or the systems. When we overlay the performance we got in the past with the performance we are currently getting we can make more accurate comparisons and better understand the cause of non-performance or good performance.
If our people see the ‘rules of our game’ – the laws, rules codes and standards applied in a way that creates certainty, consistency and comparability I believe that compliance will be seen more as a ‘pull factor’ than a ‘push factor’.  Our people will better understand that compliance needn’t be a whip to drive performance forward, rather they would see compliance as the ‘playing field’ for the business – and engage in playing the game as skillfully and robustly as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: