internal audit profession is in a constant state of change. Audit schedules,
work plans, and methods used last year, or even last month, may not work this
time around. In fact, I recently adopted as my audit motto a quote from U.S.
freestyle skier David Wise, a gold medalist at the 2014 Winter Olympics: “What
won last year won’t win this year.” We need to challenge our routines and allow
for new approaches, even nontraditional approaches, when planning and
conducting audits. Staying passionate about improvement moves us forward,
propels our professional growth, and puts us in a position of respect within
our organizations. Yet many internal auditors perform their work with only a
moderate level of commitment, content with merely going through the motions,
which can be harmful in many ways.
Perhaps most importantly, practitioner apathy may
compromise our ability to deliver value to the organization, causing us to
overlook fraud, risks, and potential improvements. This can cost our
organizations time, money, and even their reputation, when instead we should be
working to improve and preserve these resources. We need to continually assess
the quality of the services we provide and ensure we’re delivering results.
Over time, failing to maintain a passion for
improvement can also damage the department’s reputation. If we simply check
boxes and follow the same routines, and then fail to help enhance
organizational performance or add value, we put the department at risk. When we
stop serving the organization effectively, we will be escorted to the door, and
a new team will be asked to replace us.
On an individual level, stagnant, complacent
auditors also risk jeopardizing their own careers. When we lose our passion for
auditing, we are less inclined to keep up with training on new risks,
techniques, and audit methods, or to seek relevant certifications. Complacency
opens the door for another, more passionate auditor to take our position. Being
unwilling to change and drive improvement could also invite resentment from
other staff members, potentially affecting our ability to advance within the
organization, or elsewhere. Someone with more passion will come along, and they
will get the opportunity, promotion, or job.
We need to become
passionate agents of change. When we strive to help our organizations develop
stronger controls and processes, and behave ethically, we provide value and
enhance our reputation. When we share our passion with other auditors,
especially beginning-level practitioners, we grow and improve the profession.
Those who only show up
for a paycheck may need to do some soul searching to determine if they’ve truly
chosen the right field. We need to have a “work to win” mentality, and we can
do that by remaining passionate about our profession.