The Three Key Principles of Effective Auditing Communication

George H. Hummel, COO & Certification Manager, Global Certification-USA, Dayton, OH, USA

Keywords: Communication, Auditing, Effectiveness

Industry: All

Level: Intermediate


The Three Key Principles of Effective Auditing Communication

To audit effectively, the auditor must be competent in communication skills; specifically, interviewing. Regardless of whether the audit is internal, of a supplier, a third-party compliance audit or a certification audit, the auditor s responsibility is to collect objective evidence. While this evidence may be derived from documents, records and observations, at some point in the audit, there is spoken communication.

Because the word audit can be intimidating, it is the responsibility of the auditor to create a communication environment where data that confirms or does not confirm conformance to requirements is uncovered.

How can the auditor lessen the potential negative and create that environment?

There are three key principles of communication that can be used to increase audit effectiveness.

The first is: Maintain or enhance self-esteem.

Self-esteem refers to one s self-evaluation, or appraisal of one s own worth. It is the second highest need on Maslow s hierarchy. There are times when an auditor inadvertently, or through lack of skill, lowers the auditee s self-esteem. This can happen when the auditor speaks down to the auditee, or denigrates the auditee s competence or lack of knowledge of the standard being audited. It can be apparent in the auditor s non-verbal communication, which is 90% of the message. By maintaining or enhancing self-esteem, the auditor provides a motivating atmosphere where tension is lowered and the auditee feels self-worth. The auditee also feels a sense of teamwork in the audit process and is more forthcoming with information. Engaging communication is effective communication.

The second key principle for effective auditing communication is Listen and respond with empathy.

The ability to emphasize is perhaps the most important communication skill for an auditor to possess! To listen is to HEAR what the auditee is saying. To RESPOND with EMPATHY is to identify and understand the feelings, thoughts and viewpoints without judging. It is extremely important to realize that empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy means to share the feelings and viewpoints of another. The auditor, by being empathetic, lets the auditee realize that that he or she can be trusted, even if the auditor disagrees. Listening and empathizing enables the auditee to maintain a sense of competence and self-worth. Simply letting people know you are listening and understanding what they are experiencing will keep them engaged and motivated.

The third principle is Ask for help to confirm conformance.

The auditor knows the requirements. The auditee is the process expert. The auditee wants to feel involved, to know their expertise matters. In an audit, this means that the auditor and auditee work as a team to confirm conformance! The auditor is not looking to find problems, but to engender continual improvement, based upon objective evidence. Auditees want to contribute when they feel self-worth and understanding. Auditees want to be involved and contribute. Auditors should give them that opportunity.

Every interaction an auditor is in has the potential to end in two ways. The auditees they are working with feel good about themselves and what is going on, or they don t.

In this session, participants will be given auditing situations where they will decide which principle to use and how they would manage the situation.

At the end of the session, participants will have practiced using the three princiles.

ID: 42

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