Penalty Free Audits

Internal audits are often viewed as negative events that disrupt work. Afterwards, they cause more work because you have to fix the reported problems. And, if management uses the audit results to reprimand employees and lower performance appraisals, audits may even be feared.

Managers don’t want their audited areas to look bad and then face criticism from top management. As a result, employees may be told to not volunteer anything to the auditor, making it sound like they should hide problems to avoid nonconformities and the wrath of their manager.

Attitudes are contagious. If management announces an upcoming audit in a negative way, employees may pick up on that feeling and be uncooperative during the audit. Instead, management should explain that audits are truly opportunities for improvement.

If management introduces audits in a positive way, employees will likely be more supportive. Of course, auditors can help by conducting audits so people feel they are being interviewed and not interrogated.

When managers overreact to nonconformities found during an audit, it damages the effectiveness of future audits. Who would want to share information with an auditor if their manager has been known to use audit results against employees?

Audits should be viewed as penalty free assessments. Encourage people to provide straightforward, honest answers to all questions. It isn’t a game where we try to hide problems. If auditors are finding valid problems, we should welcome the opportunity to remove the causes so these problems never repeat. Audits should make our job easier, not more difficult.

If a manager was unaware of a problem before it was uncovered in an audit, the area should get to take corrective action without penalty. However, if an audit alerts management to a weak area, and they decide to monitor the process more closely afterwards, then they deal with the results as appropriate.

When an audit program is successful, managers will actually request supplemental audits due to significant process changes, new technology, or quality issues, because they see the value.

If you are interested in one of our auditor courses, please see our Auditing page for course listings, description and class schedule.