Saturday, January 24, 2015

CAE: Do you Have A Succession Plan?

As a CAE, you know that one day you will leave your position to either " pursue other interests", retire or be absent due to any other reason! When you audited the HR function in your organization, you have most probably included the organization's succession planning as part of that audit. If there was no succession plan, you most probably have recommended one. Now, let's see if you practice what you preach! Do you have a succession plan for your  Internal Audit Activity? If your answer is yes, you may stop reading this post! If it is no, keep reading!

Be proactive and initiate the process!

If there is no succession plan for your IA activity, be proactive and start the process yourself. This is how you may start:
  • Discuss your proposal to adopt succession planning with your stakeholders (audit committee, CEO, HR,..etc ) and seek their support and commitment. Once this is done, talk to your staff and explain the importance of having a succession plan.
  • Identify which positions need to be included in the plan (CAE, Director, Manager ..etc)
  • Identify the required competencies.
  • Assess internal candidates (talents) and determine if outside candidates need to be recruited.
  • Select and train the successors and keep them engaged at all times!
  • I also like the idea of putting the successors through what is called "stress tests" to ensure their preparedness.
  • Monitor and update the plan on a timely basis.
When do you start the process?

The short answer is now! Whether you are planning to vacate your position now or after 10 years, the time to start the process is now. Preparing a successful successor takes time. Some reports suggest that it may take up to five years. Moreover, you need to be ready for any emergencies or disruptions that may prevent you and/or key personnel from performing assigned duties.

What's in it for you?

We all know the benefits of succession planning to the organization, but why would the CAE have a personal interest in it? Simply put, it is his/her chance to protect his/her legacy and have a say on who gets to continue and protect his/her hard work.

Start drafting your succession plan!

These are my thoughts, please share yours.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Internal Audit is not A Desk Job, Keep Moving!

In today's IIA webinar "An Outlook of the Internal Audit Landscape for the Year Ahead ", the following slide was presented:

While all the above mentioned resolutions are important, the one relating to " Build Deeper Relationships" is , in my opinion, of extra importance and could be the most difficult .

Yesterday, a report in Canadian television stations discussed the negative health effects of desk jobs and suggested that employees should move and stand while doing their jobs! I am calling on internal auditors to keep moving ,not only for health reasons ,but for the health of their relationships.

Building deeper relationships can't be achieved through emails, memos and telephone calls alone,it requires  personal interaction and face to face meetings. I fully understand the time constraints ,but make sure your audit plan includes time for personal interactions and treat it as an investment in the achievement of the internal audit objectives.

A successful CAE is that who makes it his  mission to meet with his "customers" at every possible opportunity.This does not have to be an official meeting at all times ,but the types of " watercooler talks",  I am not referring to gossip here, but to small talks that help build professional relationships . This is not limited to the CAE ,but applies to all levels of auditors who should attempt to do as much work at the "customers" offices as possible and practical.

Those who follow my writings have probably heard about my 4 P's in conducting audits:


Personalization refers to the fact that people are different and internal auditors need to develop a personalized plan to approach and deal with them. During my long audit career ( external and internal) ,I used to invest few minutes collecting information about the people I plan to meet with to discuss planned audits. I looked for what their interests are and I used it as an opining to our meetings and an ice breaker. The first thing I do when I enter an office is to scan its contents for family pictures and other contents that may indicate a hobby or an interest area. Even the most difficult "customer" would love to talk about his/her kids!
This approach never failed me in the 35+ years of my professional career .You need to be careful though not to engage in controversial subjects such as politics and religion!

You can't get to know people's expectations without knowing them (the people) first!

Your new year resolution theme should be " leave your office and mingle with your customers!

These are my thoughts ,please share yours!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Internal Auditors: Don't let Technology Turns you into Robots!

Those of you who follow my posts know that I always encourage internal auditors to become tech-savvy. This is because I strongly believe that IT knowledge is a "must-have" skill for internal auditors to survive, add value and be relevant.

In this post, however,  I want to warn you of a possible side effect to this: becoming robots! And by this, I mean losing your human touch!

Technology should make our lives and jobs much easier, but it should not control us and dictate our behavior.  More than ever before, we are dependent on (if not addicted to)  electronic communications with others for social and business purposes. Emails, text messages, WhatsApp, Facebook, and other social media applications are becoming an integral part of our lives and they are gradually replacing face-to-face interactions and phone calls.

Internal auditors need to have "soft skills" which include people management and communication skills. These can not be acquired and practiced through electronic communications alone.

The basic advice here is :
  • Don't forget that you are a "human" first and a "user" of technology second.
  • Don't let technology takes decisions for you. Use it to make better decisions for yourself. 
  • Don't let technology controls you. Be in control.
  • Don't "hide" behind the technology. Talk to your audit customers in person and by phone whenever possible.
  • Don't put in writing what you can't tell your audit customers in person.
  • Your audit customers are humans and they expect you to treat them as such.
When was the last time you paid an audit customer a courtesy visit or picked up the phone to discuss an issue with him/her?

And finally, If you have to become a robot, be one with a heart!

These are my thoughts, please share yours!

Picture source : through Google search

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