Overcoming Your Audit Fears…Again part 01

Recently, I wrote an article title My 3 Biggest Fears as Internal Auditor.  Those fears were: 

  • Missing Something Important
  • Finding Something Big
  • Not Making a Difference

There was a poll asking about your biggest audit fears.  To date, almost 200 people have voted.  A majority of you (66%) fear missing something big.  Another 29% fear not making a difference (see poll below and fill it out if you have not). In addition to the poll, many of you sent emails expressing that you have the same fears. Further, some of you added to my 3 via email.

One email was…well…interesting. One person expressed a fear of failing to live up to best practice internal auditing standards. However, he indicated that he would never admit it to anyone ( besides me I guess) because doing so demonstrates a lack of job knowledge and ability. This email made me wonder if there were others who felt this way.

You see, I do not agree with this mode of thinking. Fear actually drives most of us to perform better. Allow me to explain. With seconds left on the clock, we’ve seen Michael Jordan score the winning basket for the Chicago Bulls more times than we can count.  Post game interviewers often asked some variation of the following questions:

  • How does it feel to have a last second win
  • What was your biggest fear.
  • Were you afraid

The typical answers are:

  • I feel good
  • I was afraid of letting my team down
  • I was afraid I was going to miss the shot.

So the greatest basketball player known to man is afraid of failing.  What makes him different from us (in our respective professions of course). Outside of the fact that he is a multimillionaire…nothing. He uses fear to improve performance.  Now I know you’re probably thinking it’s a stretch to compare auditing to a competitive sport. But think about it for a moment:

We all fear something.  Those who acknowledge fear’s existence are better off than those ignoring it.
Acknowledgement is but one small part you must take steps to appropriately address the fear.  Suppose your supervisor wants you to audit Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance standards. Now let’s suppose you are afraid because you have no clue where to start. Ignoring this gets you no where (ie. I’m not going to say anything because I don’t want them to think I’m incompetent). However, telling your supervisor that you do believe you currently do not have the skills to complete the engagement alone might get you a) appropriate training, b) an engagement mentor and/or c) a combination of a and b.

Fear is not bad. Not addressing it is.  What do  you think?


Robert Berry (107)

Robert (That Audit Guy) Berry is a risk, compliance and auditing advocate, educator and innovator. He helps good professionals become better by creating articles, web services and training that allow them to expand their knowledge network.

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