As a follow up to my post the other day I wanted to add a few things which I have pondered since I wrote.
One of the main reasons we are not “part of the team” is that we understand that “team” is typically a one way street. It is an effort on behalf of a certain party to gain our cooperation in not holding them accountable. Our independence is seen as a problem and the easiest way to overcome it is to hoist the flag of our mutual interest so that we feel uncomfortable addressing our “team mates” weaknesses. After all, team mates cover for each other, one person’s strength is used to offset another’s weakness, right?
We learned this lesson long ago in auditor school. Also known as the University of Adversity. “The Team”, in these instances, only exists to protect one party. How can I say this?
Is it really a team effort when someone in management knows a fact and fails to bring it to our attention? When management hides facts from the auditor in the hopes we won’t find out? “We are a team but I am under no obligation to give you what you need to do your job.” This isn’t what team mates do.
Is it really a team effort when you say, “I know I have an obligation to take a step but frankly it isn’t important and you can just trust me.” Team mates hold each other accountable. I will trust you when you show you can be trusted, why should it be an obligation of “Team work”? You create a one way street of loyalty wherein you expect me to help you be successful but you have no obligation to help me. Hardly team spirit.
Is it a duty of a team member to turn a blind eye to sloth and laziness? Can you imagine a ball club saying, “Yeah, that Brady. Never shows up to practice, can’t block worth a damn but meh, he is part of the team so I guess it is ok that he is starting Tackle.” You believe you can forgo your “A” game and it is everyone else’s responsibility to pick up the slack?
Ignore for the moment an auditor’s ethical responsibility. Let’s say that we could be part of the team. Don’t you think, team mate of ours, that part of your belonging to the “TEAM” demands that you give your best to the shared result? That if our part is to help you fix your errors, your part is to identify them? That when you know a material fact, you should tell us so we can be successful?
But that isn’t the sort of team you want. You want the team that feels obligated to commit extra to cover for your inadequacies. You are the lunch buddy who orders the filet mignon while everyone else orders a salad and then says that the team should split the bill evenly. No one deserves to be part of THAT team.
So no, auditors are not part of the team. We are not here to be popular and we are not here to sweep poor behavior under the rug. We took our “oath of office” to protect owners from management. We actually kinda like the job, even if it upsets certain people.
If you want me to be part of the team, pay my consulting rates. I will walk away from auditing on behalf of your owners. I will help you fix your obvious deficiencies in ethics and business practice. I will even endeavor to fix those that are not so obvious. Trust me, “team mate”, you won’t like accountability this way either, but you can at least say we are on the same “Team.”