The Case for Relational Regulation

A relationship-building approach to regulation enhances both your and the registrant’s efforts towards public protection.

The regulator’s mandate is to protect the public. Their ‘power over’ a profession/industry can set the stage for strained relationships with the people they regulate. Is a shift from ‘power over’ to ‘power with’ a better way to protect the public? We believe so.

A relational approach nets better results

Outsidein Communications’ work with four registered nursing regulators has helped them start to shift towards being more relational in their approach to regulation.

We set the stage for relational regulation by introducing what it is, why it matters and how it can benefit in a presentation that covers:

  • How you can be relational  but still be respected as the authority
  • How a relationship-building approach to regulation enhances both your and the registrant’s efforts towards public protection
  • Why being relational needs to permeate everything you do,  say, an operate (including renewal systems)
  • How others are making the shift

The business case

Transformation of this magnitude required an internal paradigm shift, and education to help leaders, boards and employees internalize what “relational” means and “how” to regulate relationally since old authoritarian ways were deeply ingrained and a way of life. The biggest challenge was convincing regulators they could still be the respected authority yet be more relationship oriented with their registrants.

We created a business case for change around the following four factors:

  1. Public protection is a shared goal between the regulator and nurse. Neither can protect the public without the other. This means working together and this means relationship.
  2. Relational is a nursing value. Since the regulator is as much a part of the profession as the nurse, this is a shared value.
  3. Nurses are busy, stressed and stretched. Regulatory compliance is more efficient and effective if it’s made easy – easier renewal, easier consumption of complex content.
  4. Inspiring commitment to standards is more effective than to rule by fear and demanding compliance.

Defining relational in words

In short, we defined a relational registered nurse regulator as:

“A regulator who builds positive relationships by being transparent, empathetic, inclusive and accessible while committed to its mandate to protect the public, which it does together with nurses.”

This shift represents a sea change from the traditional approach which is more authoritarian, bureaucratic and distant.

Getting there

After collaboratively defining the trail blazing relational approach, Outsidein led each regulator through an individual evaluation to understand where they were on the relational spectrum and what they needed to do to move towards being more relational.

Each organization made a commitment to being more relational, starting on the inside. On auditing and measuring progress, results are evident, but to be expected, shifting the perceptions among their registrants will be a gradual process.

CARNA’s journey

Learn more about the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta‘s journey by reading the case study:

CARNA case study >

Interested in learning more about relational regulation?

Are you  looking to build a better relationship with registrants? Where feasible, we’d be happy to present ‘The Case for Relational Regulation’ to you, your colleagues or board. Or, we can simply meet with you to discuss your needs.

Call us at 604.637.6372 or email us at

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