I recently hired a new employee. One of the first things I wanted to do was make him comfortable with the people performing the processes…our audit clients. So I hustled him from department to department introducing him to our clients. Our clients were cordial to the new employee and openly disclosed their thoughts about the internal audit department. Their words were completely shocking and made me realize the power in breaking away from the cubicle.
The first client told the new employee that while he did not always like our job, he liked the way I executed audit processes. Up to this point, client compliments were a rarity. But this client was not done yet. As he continued, it warmed my heart to hear such positive feedback. I’ve been doing this long enough to be confident in my ability to manage an audit department, however, I wasn’t quite sure what I had done to elicit this type of feedback.
As we moved from client to client, the positive feedback repeated. Finally, the new guy began asking the clients, “What is it that you like about the department. I’d like to continue what Robert has started”. Many said the they liked the following:
- The auditors really attempt to know our business.
- These guys seem to care about us.
- Our auditors are smart.
- They are polite but not pushovers. You have to be able to stand up to people in this environment.
This was great feedback, however, it still did not answer the one big question I had, exactly what is it that we are doing to make them feel this way. The more I thought about, the more I realized that I do like my clients. I am concerned about their well being, as departments and individuals. And most importantly, I do want to help make things better. The more I thought about it, I realized that not only are these my true beliefs as the audit leader, but they are put into practice regularly. You see, I visit my clients often. And I’m not just talking about when it is time to audit them. I walk around and inquire about them. Occasionally, the inquiries are work related and other times I want to know about their well being. I truly like them and want them to succeed. And because of this, walking around is not a chore, but rather an enjoyable part of my job. The following are three benefits of auditing by walking around.
You appear to be more human
Auditors are often viewed as disconnected unconcerned robots. The perception is that we come in, tell you what is wrong and leave. My clients see me when things are good and when things are bad. Therefore, for many the typical angst of the auditor visiting is not there. As an added benefit, our conversations vary from serious to trivial, business to professional and the wall of fear is either non existent or easier to climb over.
You develop an internal knowledge network
Comfortable clients disclose relevant and valuable information. No one knows the job better than the client performing the work daily. Auditing becomes a lot easier when clients trust you. The more you care, the more they share. The more they share, the better equipped you are to make a difference in partnership with your clients. It is good to be knowledgeable about your organization’s processes. It is nothing short of spectacular to share what you know with audit clients across the organization. Develop your internal network so that you can better serve your organization. While you’re at it, introduce clients with complementing or dependent processes.
You build a real team
You will build a great team if you are visible and your lines of communication are open. If your communication style is open, your colleagues will follow and also be more open to each other and work more as a team. Team, in this instance refers to team created by you and your audit clients. Your objectives are the same…to make the organization a better place. There is no us against them. It is us trying to be the best that we can be and deliver the best product or service. Walking around, being more human and sharing knowledge is the easiest way to build a great team.
Do you break away from your cubicle and embrace your clients?
If so, have seen a positive impact?
If not, do you think you’ll give it a try now?
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2 thoughts on “Auditors should not be Confined to Cubicles<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">4</span> min read</span>”
Relationships are so critical to the audit process. Sometimes I feel like a broken record because I’ve touted getting out and about and building relationships that aren’t transactional. At times, I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall with some finance professionals. Thanks for also carrying the banner.
I agree, we must move beyond transactional interactions.Some get it and some don’t.