Note – this is an excerpt from the Auditor Training Online Facebook Live, which you can see here
Over the previous few weeks, we've been talking a lot about what an auditor IS. I thought we'd do a little bit of a spin on that and talk about what an auditor is NOT.
I’ve made a bit of a list to help us along this path …
Auditors are NOT scary – That’s right! We are not scary at all. I mean do I look scary? 😊 We are not scary at all – we are normal people. We laugh and we cry. We have families. We have good days. We have bad days. If you've had the experience of an auditor that is scary, I suggest that you request another one. They are not behaving correctly if they are scary. They are supposed to be easy to get along with and you're supposed to work together, not be intimidated by them.
Auditors are NOT robots - we are human and we make mistakes. I always have this joke, when I do make a mistake, I always say that I did it on purpose otherwise people will start to think that I’m not human. We are not perfect so don’t be hard on yourselves. Stuff happens. We misunderstand things, we get stuff wrong. And that's that whole collaborative approach, we need to work together with each other and that goes back to the point that we are just normal people.
Auditors are NOT without emotion - we have feelings too. We have emotions as well. We are definitely not pre-programmed non emotional people.
Auditors are NOT without a sense-of-humour – yes we can have a laugh! We can have fun and enjoy our work, even crack some appropriate jokes if the audience is right. And having a smile on your face and a laugh makes the process so much more enjoyable for everyone concerned. This is the part that I love sharing with my clients - getting them to be excited by their own system and understanding that this thing actually does work! It's not something that they are forced to do or a noose around their neck. This is something that benefits their business. If your auditor doesn't have a sense of humour I suggest to request a different one. You have to enjoy the process and be comfortable so if this fits into your personality go for it. I understand that there is a time and a place for humour and you have to pick your audience where it is appropriate or note.
Auditors are NOT the quality police – we are not finger pointers. It is not a personal attack on anyone. This is something I always raise in the opening meeting and as I progress around the business and speak to different auditees. I explain that this is not a job assessment or a personal review. I explain that I need them to help me to understand the system and that I am not the expert in their job, but I know the Standards. So if they can just talk to me and explain what they do, in my head I can flip it back to the requirements in the Standards whether it is quality, environment or OH&S and then my questions will be based on that information. I do believe that this does remove the pressure from the auditee. This audit is about the businesses system only, so it is not a finger pointing exercise which tends to be very personal. We are looking at the system and if we do find an area that is nonconforming, honestly it is normally not the person to be the cause, it is the system. Even if the person did not follow the process, the question is why weren't they following the process? Was the process difficult to understand? Was there even a process? Did the process even make sense? Had the person been trained? Is the person, the right person for the job?
And the last one on the list is ………..
Auditors do not wear cardigans with leather patches and a bow tie – I have found that normally when people have an image of an auditor they think of someone that has a certain wardrobe attire. And I agree, we do have to have a certain level of experience to do our job well, but we can still wear bright colours and be ‘reasonably’ young (well in our minds anyway)! Depending on the industry or scope auditing can be quite make dominated also, so it is great to see some females coming through the ranks these days too. This means more variety in the field and great for our clients too.
Looking back at this list you can see that we CAN break the stereotype and ensure that our audits are conducted in a comfortable manner and it is okay to show your real personality and have a laugh and wear your favourite colours!
And on that note – Happy Auditing!
Jackie is a Founding Director of Auditor Training Online. She loves to help others and share her excitement about auditing, consulting and management systems bringing to you her own experience and stories as a certification auditor.