Auditor: Have you had any work-related training?
Employee: Oh yes! I’ve had lots of training. In fact, I’ve had so much training, that I’ve forgotten what I’ve been trained on!
Auditor: Well, that’s good… All that training stuff will look good on your resume.
Employee: (panic attack) Why? Does that mean I have just been fired?
Auditor: What do you do when an abnormality crops up or things aren’t really going your way?
Employee: Do you want to know what we’re supposed to do or what we really do?
Auditor: Never mind…
True story. And this is what I like best about Objectivity audits. I was asked: “Do we need to prepare anything?” when people started receiving invitations to an internal audit. And the answer is as simple as – NO. All audits are planned in advance and an auditee has got at least week to prepare before the auditor’s visit. Nobody wants to be caught with their pants down. However, well run businesses do not need any preparation. The goal of the audit is to collect objective evidence that our actions conform to planned activities in processes or procedures. In other words; we know what we are doing. All of us, across the board are ensuring that a new employee is working in the same frame as long-term member of staff. This is becoming more important, especially as the company is growing so rapidly. Each of the exceptions is an opportunity for continual improvement. Interviewing the right people also could be a contributing factor.
The following story comes from a friend of mine. During the registration audit, he and a lead auditor were interviewing the second round of candidates. The lead auditor began to interrogate a candidate about quality policy. Before my friend could stop him, he had the man cornered and was questioning him about this matter. As my friend was trying in vain interrupt him, the candidate pulled a business card out of his wallet and read the company quality policy to the auditor. The auditor quickly asked (in the meantime my friend was dancing on the spot trying to interrupt the conversation) if the employee could tell him what that meant to him. The guy answered “it is important that we all do our job correctly so that the next person on the line and the end customer always gets what they need when they need it.” The auditor asked if the man felt that it was really happening, and the response was “Oh sure, they are a great bunch of guys to work with, they are all great.”
The auditor asked the man to sign the interview sheet and they walked away with the auditor repeating once again how knowledgeable the candidates were. My friend just did not have heart to tell him he’d just interviewed one of his customers’ truck drivers.
Internal audit is NOT intended to be a process, where the auditor makes people show the skeletons in the closet. It is an impartial assessment of compliance with planned activities of the Quality Management System. Auditors should be looking for best practices. For more details click on the pictures below:
How to overcome obstacles during internal audits? I always remember that audits trigger stress. I try to avoid tricky questions. In two words – no surprises. I do not hide anything. If I observe a potential non-conformance, I bring it up. The auditee should feel comfortable when sharing information during the audit as they will be asked about improvements and impediments. After audits I prepare a report and meeting with tribe / guild master to discuss all findings and planned actions. And then GAP management procedure starts, but… this is another story for another day.