I recently read a blog post The Three Hats Worn by Great Support Teams that made me think about how I could apply this concept to my role in Ethics & Compliance. Ultimately my role is focused on customer support. The individuals in my organization want to do the right thing but in the regulated environment of pharmaceutical research where the compliance landscape is ever evolving people need help and support. The post puts forth the concept that truly great support teams need to play 3 different yet equally important roles: Friend, Teacher, and Student. Upon reflection, here is how I think I can apply those roles to be more effective at what I do.
Friend: When you call a friend for help, what do you expect? First and foremost, you want someone who will listen and not judge you. This is someone you trust and someone you believe to have your best interest at heart. A friend is someone who is going to partner with you to find a solution and won’t leave you hanging. From time to time your friend may have to tell you something you don’t necessarily want to hear but in the end you know it’s for your own good.
All too often I think people see their compliance group as the police who are waiting to catch them doing something wrong. If I’m honest, I’ll admit that “friend” is not a word I would have used to describe my role but I believe I could be much more effective if my customers could see me that way. It will take a concerted effort but I will try to remind myself that the person contacting me is a friend. I can see where that subtle but profound change could make a significant difference in my interactions
Teacher: When it comes to all the various policies, procedures, laws,regulations, etc., I by the vary nature of my job have a much deeper understanding than the people who come to me for help and guidance. So my primary role is as a teacher. They truly do want to do the right thing, I just need to help them get there. I have to remind myself that what is obvious to me can be clear as mud to someone who doesn’t live a breathe this stuff everyday. Even when missteps occur, if I can help someone learn from the experience hopefully we can prevent the same mistake from occurring in the future.
Student: Ethics & Compliance is both complex and ever evolving. I won’t ever pretend to have all of the answers and so to be a true asset and resource for my customers I need to be a perpetual student. For me this means having a good network of mentors and teachers of my own. I won’t pretend to be an expert on every area where someone comes to me for help but fortunately for me I know people who are those deep subject matter experts. However like any good student, I can’t expect to be spoon fed everything I need to know. I need to keep abreast of what’s going on in the field – read articles, blogs, books, and find other resources to continually grow and deepen my knowledge level.
Taking on the role of student, can also makes me more approachable to my customers. When I think back to my days in school, working together with other students was sometimes the best way to learn. It definitely cultivates the sense that we are in this together. When you’e working with another student you may feel free to be able to ask the “dumb” question that really needed to be asked.
So I have set a personal goal to try to incorporate these three roles into how I approach my job as a compliance lead. I will remind myself every time I pick up the phone, send an e-mail, or go to a meeting that the people I work with are my friends. I will look for those opportunities to help them learn more about making compliance part of what they do every day as both their teacher but also as a fellow student who is on that journey with them.
What do you think? Are there other roles to incorporate? Do your see applicability to what you do? Please share your thoughts, my friend, teacher, and fellow student.