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Danger: Defunct rule ahead

18th Nov 2020
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Do you know what you are doing? Of course you do! After all you’ve had the training, you’ve been doing the job for a while, and you have the comfort which comes from a sense of ‘we’ve always done it like this.’

Oh, wait a moment. Do historic processes and procedures still hold sway in a changing world? Is what you did last year, and the year before, and the year before that still the right way to go? More particularly, is there a real danger that the way in which we train and then follow processes can result in organisations unintentionally breaking the law as they fail to comply with new rules and regulations?

In my last article ‘training for change’ I talked about the importance of giving people the skills they need in order to be flexible in approach, to think around a problem and to research and react to change. What is equally important is that we train people not only to never assume but also ‘to unlearn.’

What do I mean by that? Our minds are complex and memory and recall can play tricks. When we think we know something, particularly in times of stress, it can be all too easy to revert to the familiar at the expense of the new. In addition in stressful times it can be harder to assimilate new information. So how do we ‘unlearn’ old rules and processes?

Learn the why

Having an understanding of why things change can help to assimilate changes in processes or procedures. For example, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has set expectations for annual reports to include an assessment of the impact of Covid. Understanding that this is not simply an additional requirement but can be key to a meaningful dialogue with investors and in the development of a recovery strategy could help to fix the new requirement in the minds of those in charge of annual reporting.

Note the change

Job descriptions, process notes, task sheets; it doesn’t really matter what you call them but having a record of what is required for each process or task can not only help with handovers and emergency cover, it can also act as a quick aide memoire for those looking to ensure that they are acting in accordance with the latest rules. Even the act of updating your process records can help to fix a change in mind. This is particularly important for annual tasks such as maintaining company registers where rule changes could happen up to a year before the next reporting period.

Blend the training

Blended training modules, particularly if offered in bite-sized chunks, can also help people to check that they are following the correct rules. Whether an individual has completed their training a day, a year, or longer ago doesn’t matter. Dialling in to training modules for a quick refresh can help to wake up the memory and avoid the danger of following defunct rules.

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