Annual Training is the Worst

[Video] Annual compliance training is THE WORST—but not for the reason you think.

November 6, 2019 at 7:38:29 PM CST / by Ricardo Pellafone

Oh, hey guys: we made another video! This one's about why annual compliance training is the worst.

And I know, you're like YEAH, BRILLIANT INSIGHT DUDE—but here's the thing: it's not why you think.

It's not because you don't have enough interactive junk or video or animations or whatever; it's because the parameters of annual training make it inherently a check-the-box initiative. You can't avoid it, and if you try to make it something else by cramming a bunch of high-minded values talk into it, it'll backfire.

Yes, correct: we are arguing that you should talk about your values less in annual compliance training, because it makes things worse. You should really watch the video to hear me explain why.

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Rando production notes

As you get older, you learn things about yourself. I have learned that I think making fake e-learning is hilarious. It takes about as much time to make one of those 5-second parody clips as it does to shoot the rest of the video. Worth it.

The point about "delivery" and "message" is pretty basic media theory: the medium impacts the message (or the medium is the message, or the medium is the metaphor, depending on which theorist you like).

This is probably the most undiscussed topic in corporate compliance training, and it explains a lot about why the field has been an endless death march from one dumb format to another.

Finally: getting this right will make you more valuable. There are a huge number of teams that spend a gargantuan amount of time, effort, and money on annual compliance training—which is too bad, because it's easily the least valuable training you'll ever do.

Why? Because anything that you can give to every employee is going to be too vague or high-level to tell any specific employee how to do anything. It does almost nothing to mitigate risk, and even less to build culture—for the reasons I talk about in the video.

If you gotta check a box: fine. That's life. But don't try and make it something it isn't; check the box, move on, and then focus your time and energy on other initiatives that you think might actually work.

Ricardo Pellafone

Written by

Ricardo Pellafone

Ricardo used to be in-house compliance, leading investigations for a sovereign wealth company in Abu Dhabi and a Fortune 500 tech company in California. He has degrees in psychology and law.