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Building a Diverse Team to Meet Business Needs ​

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​There are a lot of things I think about when building my team. You don't want a team with all of the same skills, backgrounds, and personalities. It is important to think about balance and also what the goals of the company are in the near and far future. Think about how truly effective your team could be if it could connect with all types of people and all kinds of personalities, and understand all facets of the business. 

I am against the old school mentality of having an internal audit team full of accountants (I'm an accountant by the way). Sure, accounting is an important skill to have, but unless you work for an accounting firm, there are a lot of other things that make your business successful. What does your business value? What are its strategic goals? What are the highest risk areas of your organization? 

I work for a company that is highly engineering-centric. To audit the business effectively, many of the projects on the annual audit plan are technical or related to engineering. I have an engineer on my team, and I find that so many of our projects are geared toward him that I exhaust his capability to execute on all of them. It also adds to the credibility of the audits that he completes if the audit client knows that the auditor actually knew and understood what he was looking at.

What about IT and cybersecurity? This has to be a high risk on everyone's radar. A team full of accountants won't be experts on that. Why not hire a cybersecurity professional, an SAP security specialist, or an IT project manager? Internal auditors get criticized about our lack of business acumen all the time. We can fill this gap by complementing our teams with people who are already experts in the field.

Educational and professional skills aren't the only things I consider when building a strong, diverse team. I also think about the team dynamics. It's more than just whether or not the person will fit in with the team. Of course that matters, but will he or she add to the right balance of extraverted and introverted team members? Do I have enough big picture thinkers balanced with detail-oriented individuals? Is my team full of change originators or conservers?

I am a highly extraverted, big picture-thinking kind of person (an ENTP if you are familiar with Myers-Briggs personality typing). If I were to fill my team with all people who are just like me, we would never get anything done because we would be so busy talking and never setting a deadline! It's having a mixture of all kinds of people that allows a team to have the broad perspective required to add the most value in team discussions, brainstorming, and goal achievement.

It's easy to gravitate toward people who are just like you, but that's the opposite of what you should try to do. You want to have a team of people who like to do the things you don't and can do the things you can't. I love to write, so when an applicant doesn't have the greatest written skills, I'm not too worried about it. I hate working with spreadsheets, so I know I need to hire someone who is an Excel master.

Internal auditors should always be thinking about the goals of the organization and the associated risks. Build your team to be able to audit the important areas of your business, work with all kinds of people, and see different perspectives.

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