My First Compliance Course


My startup had been acquired for less than five months when I took my first corporate compliance course. For those of you not familiar with compliance courses, it's a ritual many large enterprises subject their employees to in order to manage corporate risk around legal, ethical and/or culture issues.

This particular company made compliance courses mandatory to receiving your annual bonus - so about this time of year, everyone was scrambling to complete their courses. But after years of working in startups, there was a question on my very first test I can never forget. The question went something like this (paraphrased):


You are the manager of a team. One of your staff members, Bill, is trying to achieve better work life balance. He privately expresses concerns that you set a bad example for the team by working too many hours. What should you do?

a) Tell Bill he needs to follow your example and work more hours

b) Coach Bill to not worry about others and focus on achieving his own work life balance

c) Pull your team together to reenforce your commitment to work life balance

d) Reduce your hours


My startup instinct was to tell Bill to suck it up and get back to work - but after briefly considering c, I settled on b. To my surprise, when my test was graded, I learned the right answer was d.

If I ever needed a reminder I was not in a startup, this was it. ;)