Have you ever written an audit finding only to get back the following response?
Most of us have at one time or another. I think we can all agree it’s not a good feeling.
Here are 2 tips to help you eliminate this response.
1. The exit meeting is not a surprise party!
One of the worst things you can do as an auditor is store up findings during an audit and release them at the exit meeting. Yet, according to my clients, auditors do it. How do the auditees feel when this happens? Like they’re being attacked.
So if you do it, stop. (And start studying for your ASQ CQA certification.)
If you don’t run exit meetings like surprise parties, and still get the “this is not a finding” response, try this tip:
2. Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more
Effective communication during the audit almost always prevents the “this is not a finding” response. Effective communication starts with
Creating a collegial, professional tone
Remember, even seasoned auditees find audits stressful! When you’re interviewing people, be polite and respectful. Introduce yourself. Shake hands. A little small talk related to their job can help make them more comfortable. Let them know
The audit is about process, not individuals
You’re there to understand processes and identify if and where there are problems. An effective audit is not about assigning personal blame. An effective audit is about finding process problems so management can provide the resources to correct them and prevent recurrence.
Ask questions and listen actively
Your best friends are those “six honest serving-men:” What, Why, When, How, Where, and Who (Rudyard Kipling).If you start a question with one of these words, you’ll get a more complete response.
Listen carefully, take notes as needed, and then repeat back key points in your own words to verify understanding. Explicitly ask if you’ve left anything out or misunderstood anything. And then be open to correction: if you don’t want the auditee to be defensive, be a role model yourself!
Remember – you have 2 ears and only 1 mouth. Listen more than you talk!
Aside: Don’t ask yes/no or leading questions. Yes/no questions are dead ends that get you very little useful information. Leading questions either can either take you down the wrong path or even trap the interviewee. (“Have you stopped beating your dog yet?”)
Report out findings and potential findings to your host every day
Back to the surprise party theme…Set aside a few minutes at the end of each day to meet with your host and review any findings or potential findings. This gives them a chance to keep management informed, and come back with clarifications and corrections the next day.
In 140 characters or less
Work to end the response “This is not a finding.” Do not make the exit meeting a surprise party. Do communicate, communicate, communicate.