All companies, regardless of the size or type of organization, should implement a conflict of interest management system to protect themselves and their brand image. A consistent conflict of interest policy will help you avoid trouble with employees and clients, legal penalties, and bad publicity. But without a proper framework to support that policy, you run the risk of developing conflict of interest management issues, such as employee grievances or improper handling of conflicts of interest with clients, customers, or vendors.
If you’re in charge of your own business, how you manage conflict is up to you. The most effective way to do this is to create a conflict of interest management system for your business. Here are five tips to help you build an effective conflict of interest management system within your organization.
Tip #1: Keep it Simple
Conflict of interest management systems can be as simple or as complex as you create them. Employees don’t use it when they have to fill out a complicated conflict of interest form. Finding the right balance between complexity and convenience is key. Creating an overly complex conflict of interest management system will discourage people from using the system and cause confusion.
Conflict of interest management systems need to be kept simple in order to be used by more people. Keeping your conflict of interest management system simple doesn’t mean it’s too basic, it’s about ensuring you have all the necessary information at hand and the process is straightforward and easy to understand.
Tip #2: Include measures to prevent bottlenecks
Organizations often lack streamlined processes for managing conflicts of interest, leading to system bottlenecks. Bottlenecks are the bane of any business and can be especially damaging when it comes to managing conflicts of interest. Bottlenecks slow down the process, so you need to make sure there are multiple people involved in the process. If you can’t get the job done, that’s the bottleneck.
Having redundancy in your COI process can help you avoid bottlenecks and ensure your process isn’t stuck in one person’s inbox. It is important that more than one person is involved in the conflict of interest management process. This relieves her of the sole responsibility for ensuring that conflicts of interest are effectively managed. Another easy way to avoid bottlenecks in the disclosure process is to send automatic reminders to relevant stakeholders.
Tip #3: Make your conflict of interest management system transparent
There are several reasons why it is essential to make the conflict of interest process as transparent as possible. First, ensure that the process is well executed by everyone involved. This helps avoid misunderstandings and problems in understanding compliance requirements. Second, transparency builds trust in employees and business partners. If you know what’s going on, you won’t have any suspicions or feel the need to keep secrets from each other or the management team.
For full transparency, make sure all employees are aware of the policies, trained, and understand how to comply with them. You should be aware of the consequences (such as termination or other disciplinary action) if someone fails to comply with conflict of interest regulations. It is also important that all employees have access to this information at all times. By doing this you can be sure that everyone is on the same page.
Tip #4: Be consistent
When setting up a conflict of interest management system, it is important to remember that consistency is key. An inconsistent conflict of interest management system is confusing, wastes time, and increases the likelihood that someone will accidentally or deliberately break the rules because they are ignorant of them. You and your team members should be consistent in how you handle conflicts of interest, both on a personal and business level.
Also, remember that the success of any conflict management system depends on both you and the people involved in your business (whether customers or employees) applying the system in a consistent manner. It is important. The more consistent everyone is in their approach, the better results they’ll all achieve because there’s less room for mistakes and confusion about what to do next.
Tip #5: Update your system as needed
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when implementing COI systems is their inability to evolve the system as their business grows and changes. COI stagnation is harmful. It can cause confusion and misunderstanding among employees who need clear instructions on how to deal with potential issues.
Keeping our conflict of interest management system up to date is essential, not only for its own sake, but because it helps us communicate clearly about conflicts of interest. When employees are aware and familiar with the process, they know what to do when a conflict arises. Additionally, if you notice that certain aspects of the process are not working as expected or are not yielding results, change them. You should be able to review your COI management system regularly and change it if necessary.
Tip #6: Get others to provide COI tools.
Implementing a conflict of interest management system in your business can help you avoid costly lawsuits, fines, and negative publicity. However, it can be fiddly and can be difficult to maintain if you are not careful. Thankfully, he doesn’t have to do COI the old-fashioned way of creating a survey in Microsoft Word and a report in a spreadsheet.