Book Review: How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer (Kristy Grant-Hart)

Book Review: How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer (Kristy Grant-Hart)

In my interview with Kristy Grant-Hart after reading her book, I found both the book and our discussion highly informative.  She is an in-the-trenches stalwart of compliance best practices and has penned a book, which gives the reader a bounty of best practices, ideas, and tips related to the role of the Compliance Officer.  While Ms. Grant-Hart’s primary audience for the book is obviously Compliance Officers, I believe anyone who is in the business of compliance, ethics, and employment law in an organization will get tremendous value, e.g., HR, Legal, IT, and executives.

Selfishly, as a Director of Marketing for an online compliance training company, Syntrio, I wanted to be able to get inside the head of Compliance Officers so that I could market and sell to that target audience better.   And How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer has helped me there too.

And We're Off

After an inspirational Foreword by Joe Murphy, the book contains eleven chapters, which build on each other to cumulate in a powerful set of tools for the Compliance Officer, or those soon to be Compliance Officers or those who want to know the role of the Compliance Officer better.

The first several chapters of the book help you get inside the Compliance Officer’s stakeholder heads and using their motivators to influence them to make the right decisions.  As a sales and marketing person, I find this approach refreshing.  In sales, there isn’t just a sales person pitching.  There is a buyer or buyers who must be persuaded to do what the sales person (Compliance Officer) wants him or her or the team to do.   The four primary motivators are Fear for Self, Fear for the Business, Noble Cause, and Competitive Edge.  Ms. Grant-Hart does a great job defining each of these and how to use them.

If you think senior leaders in organizations have all the power, you might be mistaken.  All organizations have the named power and covert power.  In other instances, I have called this positional power and market mavens, but I really like the moniker the author uses.   Strategically working with those with covert power who are aligned with the named power while focusing on the organization’s primary motivators is a trifecta of leverage, which will net positive results.

In addition to the already mentioned best practices, Chapter Three contains a Compliance Officer Risk Matrix, with a “Readiness for Change,” axis and a “Need for Change,” access.  With a series of questions, the Compliance Officer can tell where their organization stands on the Risk Matrix.  The author then provides specific recommendations for each of the four quadrants and how to up-level the compliance program, wherever you might be starting from.  I personally love books that provide these kinds of pragmatic tools, which you can start to use immediately.

Measure Twice - Cut Once

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” is an old but true business adage.  In Chapter Four, the author provides a variety of ways that Compliance Officers can show their leadership how well the compliance program is faring.  Like the previous chapter, Ms. Grant-Hart provides a practical set of prospective compliance program measures, including a great sample of a Compliance Dashboard, which can be reported on monthly, quarterly, and annually.   If your leadership doesn’t know the results of your good compliance work, how can they support it with the requisite resources?  This is a key role for any Compliance Officer.

Compliance Officers can often be associated with negativity and criticality.  In Chapter Five, the author provides a plethora of tactics that can help overcome these potential perceptions.  If you aren’t approachable, and employees and staff cannot talk openly with you, your effectiveness may be lessened.   I found Chapter Five to be one of my favorites and the tips Kristy provides in here are very easy-to-implement, yet powerful.

Have you ever worked with an in-your-face salesperson who wouldn’t let you speak or ask questions or raise objections?  Do you remember how annoying that was?  Chapter Six is about the art of listening how powerful this skill is for anyone in the sales (think Compliance Officer) role.  The more you listen to your clients.  The more open-ended questions you ask your clients.  The more they will share with you.  This lets you pull together a solution, which will truly align with their primary motivators and their business needs.  AND, it minimizes the chance of recommending the wrong solution(s).

In Chapter Seven, the reader is exposed to some higher-level persuasion techniques.  Note that ALL sales are about making a persuasive argument.  The author introduces some concepts, which can help the Compliance Officer get the desired end result.  These include the appropriate use of fear (and follow-up actions), the relationship between emotion and logic in the buying process, the power of asking for a favor, and the secret word that will make you 50% more persuasive.  You’ll need to read the book to see what that word is.

As a person who has been in a sales role, in one way or another, for the last 25 years, I really enjoyed Chapter Eight, “I’m the Expert.”  Think about it.  Especially when purchasing services or complex products, don’t you want to buy from an expert?   I have found being a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in your field can be a catalyst for sales.  This chapter provides plenty of ways the Compliance Officer can become an expert and with this drive more influence in the organization.  This includes activities such as writing articles, speaking at conferences, and seeking organizational compliance awards.

All professions have industry networks.   Compliance has a robust and growing network of associations, conferences, professional regional groups, etc., which can provide a great way to develop connections and relationships in your field.  In Chapter Nine, the author even includes some great ways to get the maximum mileage from any conference Compliance Officers attend.  There is nothing worse than paying thousands of dollars (conference fees, flights, hotels, per diem, etc.) and coming home empty handed.

Chapter Ten, which is the last chapter before the summary, helps Compliance Officers deal with some of the inevitable downs, they will experience as part of their careers.  Everyone will experience challenges, defeats, and even sometimes contemplate whether they are in the right role and/or company.  Ms. Grant-Hart provides a pragmatic Compliance Officer Decision Tree to help get the right answer about difficult compliance-related decisions.

In summary, this book provides me with everything I seek in a professional book:

  • Insights based on years of experience
  • Practical, easy-to-use tools
  • Methods for self-improvement
  • High return on my reading investment.

If you want to know how to be a better Compliance Officer or like me, you just want to know more about what makes a Compliance Officer tick, I highly recommend you get a copy of this book for yourself and your staff.

Do you have questions about your current compliance training program? Contact us and we can work with you to make recommendations to augment and/or improve your current offering.

Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!


Written by Darin Hartley, Director of Marketing, Syntrio, Inc.

Posted in Code of Conduct, Compliance Training, Diversity and Respect, Ethics, Managing Within the Law, Sexual Harassment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .