Conducting a cultural audit: A holistic approach
At Audit International, we understand auditing organizational culture is a challenging area for internal audit. Culture is dynamic, and regularly changing. Successful auditing of culture requires a holistic approach across the internal audit function covering the development of internal auditor skills, adjustment to audit methodology, and buy-in from the business regarding the value insightful culture auditing can bring.
In this first article of a three-part series, Audit International examine and discuss the various factors for successfully auditing and influencing culture in your organization.
What is organizational culture, and why does it matter?
Before looking at how you audit culture, it’s necessary to first have a good understanding of what you mean by culture and why it’s important to organizational success.
The classic definition is around the phrase coined by Charles Handy, “the way things are done around here”. While helpful for us to gain insights into auditing culture, we need to unpack this further. Culture is about the interaction between values and behaviors and how these are seen in the organization’s activities and interactions with the range of stakeholders it has (e.g., employees, customers, suppliers, and society).
Top ten tips:
Given the fact that you are reading this article, hopefully you are already convinced that internal audit has a role to play within the organization when it comes to assessing culture. You may already be on this journey delivering cultural insights through your work to your Board, or you may simply be interested in learning more about how to begin this journey. Whichever stage you find yourself, the following top 10 tips will provide you with some initial and practical thoughts that provide a view on culture and the direction needed to influence both management and the Board.
1 – Identify your cultural levers
2- Reputation, Identify whether the organizations actions and messaging, internal and external, are aligned
3- Leadership, Do they own and manage the culture?
4- People Management, Is desired culture integrated into people-management activities?
5- Identify key processes and access alignment.
6- Auditing culture, is this holistic approach being considered by a wide range of stakeholders?
7- Be sure that you consider both design and operating effectiveness.
8- Don’t go for a grand plan.
9- Collaborate with your business colleagues, independence is a mindset.
10- Upskill all auditors at all levels.
In the coming second and third articles of this three-part series on auditing culture, Audit International will take a closer look and provide a more in-depth examination of each of these suggested ten tips. These follow-up articles will offer examples and provide opportunities to more successfully audit and influence the culture at your organization.
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