Non-Compliance - problem or gift

Non-compliance can be viewed as a ‘problem’ resulting in solutions which are hoping to resolve that ‘problem’. From a more constructive point of view, non-compliance can be seen as a gift of ‘valuable feedback’ to help us achieve the best possible outcome for both the customer and ourselves.


‘Non-compliance’ in an organisation can be compared with a customer not buying a product they don’t like, leaving a meal in a restaurant that doesn’t meet their expectations or an employee not completing a mandatory learning package.


The problem is not always the person who doesn’t ‘comply’, it is more likely that the offering does not match the needs of the person. Seeing ‘non-compliance’ as valuable feedback empowers suppliers of product and services to actively seek customers’ qualitative feedback and collaborate on how to make improvements to a product or service for the benefit of the customer, leading in turn to better ‘compliance’.


Using the above metaphors, would it help to ‘tell’ or ‘train’ a customer to eat a meal in a restaurant that doesn’t meet their needs/expectations? Or would it help to actively seek their feedback, improve the meal based on the feedback received, give the customer a voucher to eat at the restaurant again at a future date and regain their trust (and your reputation)?


Even if a product or service is mandatory, which organisations often have to consider, there has to be more of a commitment to explain/sell the benefits and positively influence actions in others, rather than using the ‘stick’ approach.


Compliance as a possible sign of high stress & anxiety


Reflective questions:

  1. So why do some employees/customers always comply with whatever is given to them, even when it doesn’t meet their own or their customers’ needs/expectations?
  2. Why do some people eat the meal that doesn’t meet their expectations?
  3. Who do people blindly believe everything a GP tells them?


Possible answers (not an exhaustive list):

  1. Don’t want to ‘rock the boat’
  2. Don’t want to upset the other person
  3. Avoid embarrassment
  4. Avoid conflict
  5. Lacks confidence/assertiveness
  6. Intimidated by the (perceived) status/power of the other person
  7. Learned helplessness
  8. Don’t know how to challenge
  9. Don’t know how to say no
  10. Worried about losing their job
  11. Fear of blame


And, which of the above reasons contributed to so many people ‘complying’ in war time situations?


Non-compliance is not a problem. It is just an opportunity for getting more feedback to improve the quality of products, service and communication. On the contrary however, there should be more concern for ‘blind compliance’.

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Blair McPherson 7 Years Ago
What about some one who doesn't comply with Health and Safty regulations or a manager who fails to comply with the Equal Oppertunity recruitment policy. Are there circumstances where non compliance is neither an oppertunity nor an option?
Heidi De Wolf 7 Years Ago
Blair, I value your comment. While I fully understand the importance of some regulations and policies in ensuring fairness and consistency I do think that there is an overuse of regulations and policies to try and change the behaviours and actions of people. Policies and regulations can take away the 'why' and 'benefits to you' of important activities and do not always support people to make well-informed decisions. Would some 'You must ...' conversations not be better delivered as 'The benefits of this activity to you are ...'? And ... what does actually happen when people choose not to comply with Equal Opps or H&S? Why is there an insistance on 'black & white' regulations over more balanced risk assessments and informed decisions?