This week Audit International are taking a very tongue-in-cheek look at how Internal Auditors can be the most liked person in the office, and who everyone wants to talk to around the water cooler. Read on for some insightful tips.
Outside of boxing or MMA, internal auditing has to be one of the most contentious careers around. You would never hear a department stating, “Let’s invite the internal auditors to our next staff meeting.” But I don’t think they are destined to be the policing bad guys that everyone hates to see coming. I believe that there are truly opportunities for internal auditors to become partners with audit clients.
As a matter of fact, I have heard of recent experiences that have further increased my belief in the auditor’s ability to be a trusted partner, even a sought after consultant. My source has been at their current organization almost ten years. They get along very well with audit clients, even the ones that have had bad audits results. They have open, honest relationships where they all care about the organization and its success.
My source has always been a very good technical auditor, but their current organization taught them a lot about the human side of the workplace. Many of the people they work with have become almost like an extended family. Recently, another organization approached them about being their Executive Director of Internal Auditing. This was an opportunity that they just could not refuse. Now as they reflect on the previous role, the things that they most miss are the people.
As they walked around spreading the word of leaving, they found out that the feeling was mutual. The kind words and warm hugs nearly brought them to tears and as everyone told them how big of a loss that leaving was to the company, they could not help but remind them, “You do understand, I am an auditor.”
Realistically I don’t think that other departments are supposed to like auditors, but most of them truly valued the time together. Those who didn’t like my source, at least respected them and the craft.
But then they began to wonder, what had they done to gain the trust and respect of the audit clients. So they asked a few. And I’d like to share with you the general themes I heard repeated.
Honesty is Honourable. Over the years, there were some heated discussions surrounding certain people, places and processes. Throughout it all the truth was still gently told. And this is one thing clients said they liked. Even when the news was bad. Empathy Creates Engagement. They had never considered themselves as overly empathetic at work. They believed there was always a strict line not to be crossed between work and personal. The last 10 years have taught them that there is a line and that sometimes it is okay (or even necessary) to tip toe up to it, step on, and even cross it occasionally. Your fellow co-workers are human. And these humans have hearts that sometimes need to be tended to. Kindness is Contagious. I like people. I like to see people smiling. I like to smile and laugh and joke. In the past, people would conceal this side at work. I thought work meant being serious all the time. Now I realize, if we cannot laugh at the place we spend a majority of our time, something is wrong. This applies to your colleagues too, even if you are on the audit team – it is OKAY to have a joke. And no one deserves to be treated mean when they make mistakes. Even if they are not cut out for a job, they still deserve common courtesy and decency. If we treat our audit clients with kindness, they are more receptive to the audit process. Conclusions My source has been an auditor for a long time. They say they have occasionally failed and sometimes succeeded. Through it all, they have had decent relationships with most audit clients. Technical auditing skills are extremely important, but to truly be successful you must hone in on the human side of the profession. My sources wonderful clients have taught them that honesty is honourable, empathy creates engagement, and kindness is contagious. So the one piece of advice I can offer is this; When communicating with any clients – be honest, be caring and be kind.