Non-compliance can be viewed as a ‘problem’ resulting in solutions which are hoping to resolve that ‘problem’. From a more constructive point of view, non-compliance can be seen as a gift of ‘valuable feedback’ to help us achieve the best possible outcome for both the customer and ourselves.
‘Non-compliance’ in an organisation can be compared with a customer chosing not to buy a product they don’t like, leaving a meal in a restaurant that doesn’t meet their expectations or an employee not completing a mandatory learning package as it lacks relevance to their daily work.
The problem is not always the person who doesn’t ‘comply’, it is more likely that the offering does not match the needs of/adds value to the person or the person does not fully understand the benefits to themselves and the organisation. Seeing ‘non-compliance’ as valuable feedback empowers suppliers of products and services to actively seek customers’ qualitative feedback and collaborate on how to make continuous improvements to a product or service for the benefit of all customers, leading in turn to better ‘compliance’.
Using the above comparative examples, would it help to ‘tell’ or ‘train’ a customer to eat a meal in a restaurant that doesn’t meet their needs/expectations? Or would it help to actively seek their feedback, improve the meal based on the feedback received, give the customer a voucher to eat at the restaurant again at a future date and regain their trust (and your reputation)?
Even if a product or service is mandatory, which organisations often feel they have to consider, there has to be more of a commitment to explain/sell the benefits and positively influence actions in others, rather than using the ‘stick’ or 'reward' approach.
Compliance as a possible sign of high stress & anxiety
- So why do some employees/customers always comply with whatever is given to them, even when it doesn’t meet their own or their customers’ needs/expectations?
- Why do people feel their feedback will not make a difference?
- Why do some people eat the meal that doesn’t meet their expectations?
- Who do people blindly believe everything a GP tells them?
Possible answers (not an exhaustive list):
- Don’t want to ‘rock the boat’
- Don’t want to upset the other person
- Avoid embarrassment
- Avoid conflict
- Lacks confidence/assertiveness
- Feels intimidated by the (sometimes perceived) status/power of the other person
- Learned helplessness
- Don’t know how to challenge
- Don’t know how to say no
- Worried about losing their job
Non-compliance is not a problem. It is just an opportunity for getting more feedback to improve the quality of products, service and communication. On the contrary however, there should be more concern for ‘blind compliance’ as it is more likely to show weaknesses and disengagement in your workforce.
A great reframe which will focus the mind is to change the word 'compliance' to 'ownership' or 'commitment'. So instead of using 'You will...' language often used in policies, you may invite better 'compliance' or ownership/commitment from others by providing a balanced perspective, giving choice and inviting continuous feedback, which in turn strengthens and renews ownership/ commitment.