As President Ronald Reagan was quoted many years, it was very important to trust but it was equally if not more important to “trust but verify”. This is where auditing comes in.
Auditing is actually one of the top 5 initiatives agencies should implement to strengthen their E&O culture and commitment. After all, for agencies that have documented workflows and procedures, how else can management have a comfort level that the staff are meeting the expectations? Unfortunately, if you were to mention that your agency was going to start “auditing”, you might hear a groan or two.
So maybe the key question is that if an agency were to start auditing, how can they ensure that their staff embraces it for the value it provides?
First off, regardless of who is going to actually be doing the auditing, it is important that management explain the reason, the value and projected benefit. Some staff may feel that auditing is a “gotcha” and that the staff member is going to get dinged for not doing the job. Yes, that could happen but it is important that it not happen during the first year or so of the implementation of the auditing process.
There is certainly the possibility that there is a misunderstanding of some of the procedures. In addition, there may be a need for further training. These are all valid outcomes from auditing and should be handled as such. If a staff member does not do a procedure properly, it is important that the “auditor” or management take the time to meet with that staff member and explain why they did not “pass” the audit on that specific question. Possibly the issue is that the employee posted an item (example a checklist) to the agency system; just not to the right tab in the agency system. Meeting with the employee and explaining the proper procedure and expectations is important. Obviously, while the employee may get a “get out of jail card” on this year’s audit, they need to know the proper spot in the system in the future to ensure they get the credit.
By approaching it in this way, it shows the staff the importance of auditing but that it will be implemented fairly and openly. Auditing really is that important but the way it gets introduced could determine if it achieves the desired results.