Auditors and the Love-Hate Relationship
Khalid Ezzaldin Hasan
Having started my career in banking outside the internal audit function, I can clearly remember how annoyed and concerned I was when internal auditors would show up in our department. There would be a general alert reaction from everyone as well as a sense of impending danger. The sentiment was clearly based on the fact that we were a team and these people were there to expose our weaknesses and problems. Moreover, what would make our department look bad was bad for business and bad for our efforts to increase our compensation. Shows of loyalty and solidarity were rewarded by senior management, and the internal audit visits were the best opportunity to show them. Tales of how internal auditors tricked a staff into giving information that led to trouble quickly became the theme of the day. Any question the internal auditor asked would be responded to by, “Why do you want to know?” and “What are you looking for exactly?” Those of you who started your careers outside of internal audit may recall a similar experience.
Now that I work inside the internal audit department and am lucky to have started with management that firmly believes in implementing The IIA’s International Professional Practices Framework, I find myself challenging that view and perception on an almost daily basis. Depending on the size of the organization, it can be very challenging to overcome that perception and establish the kind of trust that makes audits smoother and faster. Often one falls into the paradox of exercising internal audit authority vs. soliciting cooperation to meet deadlines. Patience and perseverance become virtues essential to getting the job done.
- What have you done to break through this emotional barrier?
- How do you get the client to cooperate quickly without having to force them?
- Did forcing the client to cooperate often create more problems than encouraging cooperation? Or, was it too time-consuming, and you found it easier to demand compliance as per the audit’s terms of reference?
Finally, do auditors find themselves in situations where the interpersonal relationships inside the internal audit department itself play a role in completing their audits? Office politics sometimes prevent auditors from expressing their views about their own department’s operations. Internal auditors need to be able to implement their own improvement doctrines inside their department; leading by example makes it easier for other departments to follow suit.
- Did you face that kind of situation inside the internal audit department?
- What are the best ways to constructively criticize your own department?
- Have you faced any other types of difficulties within your department?
- Does your department welcome suggestions and changes to its way of doing things? Or, does it prefer strict adherence to the way things are done?
Please share your personal experiences and opinions. I have found that the most effective way of dealing with office politics and interpersonal situations is through the experiences of friends in the profession.
Posted on Aug 3, 2011 by Tim
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