The guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice is clear: “Another hallmark of a well-designed compliance program is appropriately tailored training and communications.” 

Three straightforward words. But what does “appropriately tailored” actually mean in practice? Sure, it could mean starting every single training from scratch and writing it specifically for your own organization, but I can hear your overstretched budgets and calendars groaning from here. 

When you have limited time and budget – as we all do – you have to maximize impact. Maximizing impact definitely doesn’t mean changing every word of the course, but it does mean that you must have the flexibility to change any text, rather than being limited to certain zones, while being stuck with the content elsewhere.

At Rethink Compliance, our team has decades of experience tailoring library courses to meet the needs of a vast range of clients. The compliance experts on our Advisory Services team, who review every single course, have also spent a lot of time with the details of the DOJ guidance, helping our clients meet the standards. 

(All of our 350+ library titles are also ready to roll out off the shelf for clients who need that option for timing, budget, or other reasons.) 

Here are five questions to ask yourself when determining what “appropriately tailored training” means for you. 

1. Does the training accurately and specifically cover your own policies?

There’s a lot of common ground when it comes to compliance training, but your policies contain the nitty-gritty – the expectations that are specific to your organization. 

Linking to your policies is a good start, but well-tailored training will also cover the content of the policies, helping people understand both the what and the why. By way of example: what your organization’s gift limit is and why there are value limits on gifts and hospitality in the first place.

2. Will employees recognize themselves and their role?

Our human brains click on when we see something familiar and click off when we see something that looks like it doesn’t apply to us. And during compliance training, you definitely want to fully engage your learners. 

A gold-standard way to do this is to tell real stories, either from within your organization or from your industry. This sends the vital message that, yes, this can happen here, and it helps learners see an immediate applicability to their own situations, rather than having to draw connections on their own. 

3. Do you know what your employees already know – and what they don’t?

Your learners may already have quite a sophisticated understanding of a topic and just need a refresher on your specific policies. Or they may be brand new to it and need definitions and basic explanations. Getting this calibration wrong – in either direction – could mean ineffective training, an alienated audience, and a wasted opportunity. 

Getting it right requires understanding your audience’s sophistication and subject matter expertise before you even start. In many cases, this means creating different training for different audiences – an added step, but one that could be necessary to meet the “appropriately tailored” standard. 

4. Are you sharing practical, relevant advice?

Lots of compliance training is very good at covering the laws and the principles behind them (which is important), but still leaves learners wondering, “Okay, so what do I do?”

In order for your training to be effective – in order, frankly, for it to even qualify as “training” – it has to include your clear expectations for learners and actions that they can take – in their roles! – to meet those expectations. 

5. Do you give very clear, specific advice on how to speak up and ask questions?

This is crucial. Your training cannot cover every single situation your learners may face. In fact, it is normal that it may raise questions for them. You want to make sure that, by the end of the training, they know exactly where they can turn with those questions, including contact information and an assurance that their questions or reports will be taken seriously. 

At Rethink, we’re truly passionate about empowering professionals like you to deliver effective compliance training. If you’d like to learn more about how we can tailor our library courses to meet your needs, please reach out to We’d love to show you.