I have had the privilege of working for or with some really great Chief Audit Executives over the years. They have taught me many valuable lessons, but one that sticks with me is “Tell them what they need to know.” To take it a little further, this person made me understand that there is nothing to fear as long I operate truthfully and honestly.
We were performing an integrated audit engagement and decided to expand the scope to include compliance with the fairly newly implemented Gramm Leach Bliley Act. During the review, it was determined that the unit was not in compliance with the Act. Senior management was extremely upset. There was a wave of misplaced anger towards department Directors and Managers. However, a deeper dive disclosed that department personnel were not aware of the Act and the lack of awareness was due to the lack of compliance and training programs.
What senior management wanted to know is whether or not the department was in compliance with the Act. What they needed to know was that the lack of compliance was due to the fact that they, as an executive group, had not provided the tools necessary for the department to fully perform their duties. This is a tough conversation to have, however, it was necessary. It taught me a valuable lesson…there is sometimes a difference between what they want to know and what they need to know.
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