How to Avoid Easy Compliance Mistakes in Business


Mistakes happen in every discipline and industry of business – we are after all, human. However, the thought of mistakes is not a reality we, as compliance officers, want to experience.

As individuals, we have a certain amount of control in preventing mistakes. With critical self-analysis, we can find a problem before someone else does. As compliance officers, finding an issue before a customer, regulator, or the public becomes aware of it is the key to providing not only protection but also value for the organization.

However, because we are human, it is difficult to take on the task of protecting the entire company as an individual (or Compliance team).  Which is why the avoidance of many compliance-related mistakes can be solved with one major focus: building solid relationships throughout the company.

A compliance officer must be a diplomat, understanding many different stakeholders, and must be someone who doesn’t just find problems but fixes them and proactively avoids them. To do this requires an understanding of who we’re working with.  Earlier in my career, a brilliant businessperson with extraordinary people skills taught me to know my client and adjust accordingly. She taught me an important starting point for understanding clients is to expect differing views of Compliance and its ability to incentivize good business judgment. With a smile and a curious mind, she helped the Compliance team build rapport and reminded us that a compliance officer who doesn’t understand varying behaviors and simply announces edicts will have a tough time making a sustainable impact on anyone’s business judgment.

When we accept that understanding behavioral drivers and incentivizing behavior is more effective than dictating rules and expecting adherence simply because we say so, there will be a culture of compliance. When the culture encourages engagement with Compliance, where self-reporting to Compliance is valued and rewarded as a form of leadership, issues can be addressed more easily and resolved earlier.

This approach takes time.  It’s a long-term approach, changing the way people work together by aligning interests and relying on incentives to win wider engagement that helps avoid problems. This kind of sustainable compliance develops its own momentum – allowing compliance officers to almost step back and only calibrate improvements as needed.

The more awareness and involvement you instill within your organization, the less likely your company will find itself making compliance-related mistakes.  Learn more about strategies to effectively incorporate compliance within your organization by visiting,