Three Simple Steps from Compliance to Quality

When I negotiated my new position and title earlier this year I made the very specific decision to call use the term quality, despite having previously held the 'compliance' banner. There were several reasons for this, but primarily I did it for two reasons:

  1. Compliance is tolerated, while quality is aspired to
  2. Compliance is about identifying what must be and not be done, quality is about finding great ways to do it

 If you find yourself spending the majority of your time arguing with staff about what they should be doing, you are sitting in Camp Compliance and it can be a difficult and lonely place! If however, you spend the majority of your time with staff coming to you, researching ways to support initiative in your organisation, and working with and training staff, welcome to Team Quality!

If you are looking to make the move from compliance to quality, here are my top three tips:

1. Listen more, audit less

It's easy to identify what is being done wrong, what's valuable is finding simple, effective ways to do it right.  You can buy a one size fits all set of policies that will tell you what has to be done to meet the standards, but the best RTOs develop highly contextualised and tailored policies with their staff, rather than dictate policies to them. The larger the business, the less likely the people developing the policies are the same people applying them, it takes a team to deliver top quality training. The first step is to listen. "Tell me how you... Help me understand...  Walk me through how you..." are all great ways to open up a conversation with your staff. 

Audits are a great tool for systematic monitoring, establishing a baseline as an annual or biannual check, but I don't believe that it should be a full time job. I spend less than one day a week auditing, its the 20% of my job that helps me dictate where the other 80% of my time should be focused.  


2. Learn to speak as others like to listen

Some call it the Platinum Rule (check out Tony Alessandro), others call it effective communication. At the end of the day, one person can't regulate a whole organisation, so if you are going to lead your organisation down the right path, you need to get buy in from your staff. This means that you need them to listen to you.

Peter Drucker once famously said "Communication is what the listener does."Depending on preferred communication methods and behavioural tendencies (seeDiSC for a great way of doing this), you may find that different approaches will get very different results. For example, preferred methods for training sales staff or BDMs (High Is) would be face to face, using scenario based interactive training, give these guys a lot of time to talk!

I find administrators (High Ss) generally prefer a little more time to process information, are less likely to ask questions in front of large groups, and like to have data to take away with them for later review. I also provide a bit more positive reinforcement with these groups, "Great question, thanks for asking... Does that answer address your concerns?"

CEOs, Executives and Senior Managers (High Ds) are generally time poor, so a strong bottom line up front, get the key 2-3 questions out of the way and then be ready to present possible solutions. By reflecting on how others communicate and tailoring your communication to meet their needs, you are more likely to create long term dialogues. In addition, by communicating with people on their level you increase their comfort and therefore, are more likely to get accurate and full responses, giving you more information to create usable, practical policies and procedures.


3. Build relationships, not barriers

There are three types of power, relationship, role and expert. Many of us in the role of compliance or quality, whatever we choose to call it, have expert power, we understand the standards, the legislation, and that may lead us into a position where we can use role power to force others to action our decisions. However, neither will ever be as strong or useful as relationship power. By listening to your staff first, then communicating through methods that meet their needs, you can help staff understand not just what needs to be done, but why, and work together to figure out the best, most effective methods for how to get the job done. 

Relationships take effort, they take time, I recommend starting with one on ones with key staff members, senior trainers, admin leaders, sales managers on a regular basis to understand their issues and needs. When you have to present a problem, follow it with a possible solution. 

The end goal is to have staff coming to you for solutions, rather than forcing you to go looking for problems...

Compliance identifies the problem, but quality works with staff to identify the best solutions. 

Now go forth, and promote quality!


Bea Chambers
Bea Chambers