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 IIA Brings Great Programming to its Members

John Hall returned to Philadelphia after providing the Keynote last year, "75 Years of Auditors as Leaders: What It Means, How to Do IT, and Why Management Needs It".  At the Spring 2017 Conference he taught back-to-back sessions in the first two IA tracks, "How to Audit Better Pt. 1” and “How to Audit Better Pt 2."  John Hall's speaking skills preceded him, so there was hardly a seat in Liberty E on the morning of Monday, April 3rd, 2017.  I attended mainly because I like to have the opinion of specialists on foundational auditing competencies that sometimes are overlooked in the workplace.  I believe that the fundamentals of internal auditing are good for auditors of all walks of life to brush up upon their core competencies. 
In the session involving hard skills, our speaker summed up a number of principles of conducting an audit better from planning to fieldwork and exits that can keep internal auditors on track and focused on the matters bearing the greatest risk.  For instance,
1)         Anticipate risk with the team in brainstorming sessions prior to the audit or audit planning.  Ask three questions to solicit input that the auditor needs from the supervisor with regards to risk;
(a) What is the purpose of this audit?,
(b) What kind of things should we look for,
(c) How hard should we look? Asking this question will help the team determine scope, i.e. shall we build data sets to find exceptions or follow a more passive approach.
2)         The level to which auditors rely on data analysis can help the auditor estimate the time to allocate to testing. 
3)         Audit interviews are an efficient way to gather information, and auditors should work actively to master these skills.  Further verification of the information derived from interviews is necessary. 
4)         Sampling of the population should be risk-based and acknowledge that the population consists of three parts;
(a) Hidden problems
(b) Known problems, and
(c) Acceptable conditions.
In the second session, the attendees learned much about the soft skills that must accompany even the most thoughtfully planned audits, testing practices, and report writing techniques.  For instance, everyone has heard that, “No meeting should be without an agenda”.  Well, John Hall extends the pretext further than that by addressing all of the following and more; 
1)         The psychology or ‘Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)’ social science behind ongoing communications with your ‘clients’. 
2)         The use of optimism and positivity,
3)         Providing explicit communication – for instance, assume that the client doesn’t know about the purpose of internal auditing or control procedures until you tell them
4)         The importance of first impressions on others who do not know us,
5)         Which words are critical to say during the meeting that bear the most meaning and best delivery,
6)         The various phases of an audit meeting and how long the meeting should deliberate on each phase,
7)         It is a good practice to imitate soft skills that you admire in others from your work group,
8)         Rapport building is a strategy to gain receptiveness to suggestions and thereby add value.  Rapport building is a campaign and should be treated like a marketing campaign. Things to remember about rapport;
(a) Be genuine, authentic, and present,
(b) The origin of the word ‘auditor’ derives from Latin and means ‘one who listens’,
(c) First impressions are 100% in your control, consider point of view (POV), you are seen from the outside-in, and other’s perception is reality,
(d) selling requires a buyer – that actually engages in a purchase,
(e) deal proactively with barriers and acknowledge flawed beliefs,
(f) pre-frame the thinking of the team,
(g) practice positive reinforcement,
9)         Solutions for the natural resistance to change, i.e. use Key Result Statistics (KRI) as motivators; and
(a) Remember that how others are measured directs their action; for instance
      (i) Pain variables tend to produce results with a quick turnaround, but
      (ii) Pleasure variables prompt a greater sustaining actions
10)       Calculating the ROI of your audit ideas. 
In addition, Mr. Hall provided a number of text recommendations of which I have itemized a list.
1) David Rock, “Quite Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work”
2) Chip Heath and Dan Heath, “Switch - How to Change things when Change is Hard”
3) Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”
4) Spencer Johnson, “The One Minute Salesperson”
5) Kristi Hedges, “The Power of Presence”
The members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors extend a gracious thanks to our highly experienced and seasoned speaker for sharing foundational concepts among a packed crowd and anxiously await his next visit. 
Look for more great programing from the Philadelphia Chapter of the IIA in the future on the chapter website