New year, new audit department.

Setting goals and new years resolutions for your audit team With the new year already in swing and all of…

Setting goals and new years resolutions for your audit team

With the new year already in swing and all of our valued audit team members now returning to work from their Christmas and New Year break, what better time than to set some goals and objective for the audit team? With team members hopefully feeling refreshed and relaxed after the break, now is the perfect time to capitalise on their happiness and hopefully renewed motivation for another year of audit.

Personally, I am a bit of a fan when it comes to goal setting. This whole website started from me setting a personal goal last year. So after a bit of thinking about my own audit team, I realised there could be some benefit to setting team goals which are outside those set as part of the performance management process. Here’s how we went.

The purpose of these goals / resolutions is to encourage better behaviours and practices within the audit team. These goals should be more focused on improving culture and spirit rather then setting another benchmark for everyone to be measured against; we have enough of that already.

However, before we start setting goals, there are a few things which we probably need to take into consideration. These ‘things’ should not dictate what our goals / resolutions should be, but rather help remind us what our purpose and company objectives are, and how we as a team can maybe work towards these through our new years resolutions.

Things to be considered…

The Internal Audit Charter

Each audit department should have a Charter. The Charter clearly defines:

  • Internal audit’s purpose within the organization.
  • Internal audit’s authority.
  • Internal audit’s responsibility.
  • Internal audit’s position within the organization.

Before we set any resolutions, it would be good to review the Charter and ensure it is up to date. The Charter should be communicated to all team members, not only so they are aware of it, but so some meaningful team goals / resolutions can be set. This essentially will be one of our guiding documents.

For details on the Internal Audit Charter, you can check out the IIA website here. I plan on uploading a template Charter over the coming weeks.

Key take-aways from the Charter for our resolution setting would include our purpose and position within the organisation; how can we remind everyone of our purpose and our position (as helpers, not the police!).

Company objectives and goals

Each company will typically set down a series objectives and goals for all team members. It is important that our department wide goals / resolutions do not lose focus of these company objectives and goals, but rather work towards achieving them.

Key take-aways from the company objectives and goals in our resolution setting would include how we can contribute to achieving or promoting them as an audit team.

Individual goals and objectives

Its important to listen to the team and what they want. More training, better tools and more time to complete an audit, are all common requests, but what about more team bonding time, opportunities to grow and individual personal projects or improvement ideas? It’s important to consider all of these as this is an opportunity for the team to call out improvement areas.

Building the goals and resolutions

Everyone has an opinion and will also have an idea, so its important to make sure everyone gets the chance to have a say. It’s important to keep focus throughout this. Like personal new years resolutions, these are things we want to work on or improve. These are not performance objectives, but rather inspirational goals to make us a better team.

Capturing all these opinions and ideas can be hard, particularly if there are more vocal or reserved team members. A ‘suggestion box’ idea was floated, but to make it more personal, each person writing three wants on the board works well. Everyone has equal say, we can see what everyone wants, and eventually, it becomes clear what the most wanted thing is.

From here, we play a massaging game. Talk through each of the wants and refine / merge these as required. Depending on how many team members there are, it may be worthwhile to set a limit for resolutions (i.e. for a team of 10, it may be reasonable to have three resolutions). Alternatively, it may be worthwhile to include them all. This way, everyone’s wants are considered and it also gives the team the chance to meet more wants.

Embedding the resolutions

It’s good to keep focus. Including a standing item in each meeting to track progress is a great way to see if we are working towards the resolutions. Alternatively, setting ‘owners’ is another way to ensure resolutions are being worked towards, although this can cause tension, particularly where other team members feel as though they can’t contribute to goals, or feel as though these should contribute to their performance reviews. Assigning owners, whilst good in some respects, may also have the wrong outcome.

Ideas for resolutions

Here are a few which we all discussed, plus a few extra’s thrown in for good measure!

  • More dedicated face to face training days
  • More varied team meetings (i.e. changing location, having a quiz at the end of each meeting)
  • Promoting audit in the business (hosting a social event or quiz night)
  • Rotating team members (i.e. work with someone in the finance function for a number of weeks, then have them assist with audit for a number of weeks).
  • Team drinks after each audit committee if all audits are delivered on time.
  • Fruit Friday (take it in turns of serving a fruit platter each Friday and use the time to catch up as a team).
  • Team awards ceremony at the end of the year.

As you can see, these resolutions are not focused on KPI’s and individual performance objectives, but rather ways to improve team culture, with consideration to the points discussed earlier (Charter, company objectives, etc).

Share any other ideas you might have for audit team resolutions, or examples of where you have done something similar.