Success as an internal audit professional starts with understanding the basics: risk, controls, planning, testing, interviewing, documentation, reporting, etc. It also requires soft skills such as communication, business acumen, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. But for the internal auditor who is looking to provide real added value and make a positive impact, those are only table stakes--the bare minimum for getting into the game without being ignored, dismissed, or pigeon-holed as the kind of auditor no one wants to know.
Any internal auditor who wants to be a part of a successful audit future--as well as the future of his or her organization--would do well to follow three rules, listed in reverse order of importance.
Make Them Care. We often believe the value of our work is self-evident. That does not mean our clients understand or agree. It is our responsibility to learn what they care about and align our objectives with those needs. Through that alignment, we need to ensure everyone is working toward the same successes. And an important corollary: If we do not care about our product, organization, or department, then we will fail. How is the client supposed to care when we don't?
Be a Marketer. Every internal auditor is in marketing. We are selling the audit, the issues, the report, the need for time with us, the value of our department, and ourselves. Everything we do must include a focus on how we promote our services, the profession, the department, and us, the professional internal auditors.
Have Fun. Enjoying the work should be our No. 1 priority. I...