Hello again! Can I help you find anything? I couldn’t help but notice you’ve got that longing look in your eye….
Oh, I see – you LOVE Qualtrax and really need a Quality Management Software (QMS) solution, but your organization’s leadership just isn’t ready to cough up the funding you need to get your hands on this amazing platform that we have to offer. It’s a sad, but not uncommon story.
I’m going to do my best to help you out of this little predicament. Crafting a convincing argument for making an investment in any software can be a tough sell. It’s understandable from a leadership perspective: most people in these roles have been really excited by a proposed software solution at some point in the past and wound up investing a lot of money into an under-performing money pit. You can’t really fault them for taking a more reserved approach this time around.
You’ll have your work cut out for you if you want to break through those scars, but Qualtrax has definitely been down this road a time or two with previous customers who had to fight the same battle you’re fighting – and we helped them win it.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing three key steps to transform your skeptical leadership group into a team of Qualtrax champions who are just as excited as you are to implement your new QMS. Let’s get started. Here’s the first step:
Remember how you learned the difference in spelling between principle and principal? The principal is your PAL!
I don’t know about you, but there was no point in time when I thought the principal was a friend of mine. I wasn’t a big troublemaker in school, but any time I saw him in the hall, I tried to make myself as small as possible and hoped he wasn’t looking for me. I’m sure he was a super nice guy, but all the same, don’t play with fire if you don’t want to risk getting burned, amirite?
Well, like it or not, this is how many of your co-workers – and perhaps even some in leadership – view you and your department.
“[An] essential part of helping employees make good decisions is to position Compliance as a resource rather than the internal affairs police,” Lynn Haaland, former SVP, Deputy General Counsel, Global Chief Compliance & Ethics Officer & Chief Counsel, Cybersecurity of PepsiCo says, in a 2018 interview with Forbes Magazine. “In my view, the compliance professional needs to know that she or he is not in charge of the ethics of the company.” (source)
You may very well know that you’re not the internal affairs police, but if the only time the rest of the organization hears from you is when they’re under the scrutiny of an internal audit or responding to a corrective action you’ve identified, it can be hard to shake that label. I’ve been on the receiving end of a few internal audits, and it’s hard not to feel personally attacked when someone comes into your department and tells you how things need to be done.
Speak with your colleagues and begin building bridges to leadership around items that are not audit or problem related. Part of your role is to share how compliance is a keystone in the foundation of the organization. It’s important to establish that you’re all on the same side. Put it in terms they can understand. You may not be down field trying to score on offense, but your role protecting your own goal on the back end is critical to the success of the team as a whole.
Be proactive in sharing your vision and ideas for how the organization can improve. Help your colleagues understand how complex the accreditation process is and how important maintaining that accreditation is to the success of the business. Make them see you as a champion who wants to see the organization grow and improve rather than just a strict rule follower who is constantly pointing out other peoples’ shortcomings and errors.
The sooner you are able to cast off your perception as the compliance boogeyman by suggesting proactive solutions and showing that your QMS ask is in step with the overall pursuit of shared organizational interests, the sooner you’ll be able to make your pitch to a more open-minded audience.
That’s a great start, and you’ve got some homework! Remember the old adage: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well, QMS systems aren’t usually approved in a day either. Hang in there, you’re taking steps in the right direction. Next week we’ll look at deciding how to pitch your QMS to leadership in a context they can understand: money.
Read part 2 of our Pitching ROI Series: Step 2: The windup … and the pitch!