Meeting people where they are

What I’ve learned through the challenges of 2020…

My Journey to Meeting People Where They Are: A COVID-19 Pandemic Reflection

So much about leading a global compliance program and maintaining good corporate governance is about the tactical details. We have training and engagement programs tailored to the risks at each level of the organization. Then there is policy development, deployment, and life cycle management to maintain ‘guide rails’ to safeguard the business. Layer in risk assessment, hotline management, and internal investigations, among other duties, and today’s compliance officer (myself included) can easily get lost in the details of all the work that needs to be done. Our day provides little time to pause and reflect.

Enter the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and all the disruptions and challenges to daily life that have followed.

Rarely in our professional lives can we hit the ‘pause button’ and reflect. For me, the COVID-19 pandemic, and all the upheaval it caused, has been an unexpected opportunity to hit my own ‘pause button’ and reflect on how I approach leading a global compliance program. The journey has been enlightening. The fundamental question I found myself asking was whether I was meeting people where they are.

For me, that meant asking myself whether I was spending enough time understanding the motivations, biases, and stressors that people bring to work with them, or if I was jumping into solution mode without all the factors in mind. 

The point for me was not about becoming a better listener; instead, it was about leading my organization toward an even stronger compliance culture through more relevant and actionable compliance programs and initiatives.

Over these last six months, my journey has led me to ask questions and seek input that I previously walked by. While this process has led to meaningful improvements in the tactical aspects of my work, the real value has been the enlightened (virtual) conversations I have had with team members across the globe. These conversations about compliance and integrity have reinvigorated and humbled me. 

So, I encourage you to spend a little more time meeting people where they are. You might be surprised by what you find. 

Seth RiceAssistant General Counsel and Director of Compliance
Kennametal Inc.


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