Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Successful Internal Auditor

Author:  Bob Sherby
             Financial Consultant – Accounting Management and Internal Audit

The Successful Internal Auditor

Talk to various financial managers about internal auditors and generally the first thing you’ll hear, is oh no, here comes the internal auditor.  If that is what you’re hearing, that auditor is unlikely to be worth what his/her company is paying for the services.  Why?  Because the auditor is not likely to get full cooperation and people will not be as open in providing information.

Having been on both sides of the desk in Controller and CFO roles and in my last position as Sr. Director of Internal Audit for a publicly traded company, I knew what I liked and didn’t like about internal auditors and I certainly wasn’t going to emulate the ones I didn’t like.  However, my advice could just as easily translate into how to be a successful manager as well.  Even in my last year as Sr. Director of Internal Audit, the people at the offices I visited were genuinely happy to see me as we had developed friendships over the years.  Despite those friendships, everyone that I dealt with knew that rule number one with me is that shown below in the footer, “trust but verify”.

To be a successful auditor, one needs to have the requisite technical skills but technical skills alone won’t help if the audit targets are wary of your visit or if your visit interferes with their priorities.  Below are the steps that helped keep me welcome throughout my last company during eight years as Director of Internal Audit:

Audit Planning
  • Determine the time you will need for the audit at the audit location and time period.
  • Outline the audit requirements and estimated time with the senior person at the office or unit being audited and ask them if there is a best time for the audit to take place.
  • Ask that the team members know of your visit and provide a brief of the type of information that will be required.
  • Schedule the audit for the best time for that unit.  Remember each person wants to help but they also have their own jobs to complete, and their jobs have a direct impact on their compensation.
Audit Execution
  • Ask for help, don’t demand it.  Request as much information in advance of your visit as possible.
  • Treat each individual in the subject unit with the same respect as you would the senior person.
  • When interviewing an individual who asks to reschedule due to priorities, give them available times and be flexible.
Audit Report
  • Don’t be a “gotcha” auditor.  When presenting the findings, provide the reason for the failure and present it as positively as possible. 
  • Present new cost effective controls or solutions that are likely to prevent future failures.
  • Thank all concerned for their help in completing the audit.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Benefits of Working with a Career Coach

By Alex Freund
Career Coach, Interview Coach - Makes people comfortable during the interview

I received a phone call from someone asking me whether I’m a career coach or a career counselor. I reversed the question to see whether the caller knows the distinction between the two terms. As expected, the caller did not. But that caller was not in the minority, because almost everyone uses the two terms interchangeably. In fact, there are even more such terms: career consultant, facilitator, mentor, and even manager-as-coach.
Marcia Bench in her book "Career Coaching: An Insider’s Guide" describes in detail the nuances of each term. However, for practical purposes and for the majority of people, the only question that counts is whether any of those people who hold the various titles can help clients get jobs or assist them with career changes. Of course there are also many other issues that any one of these professionals can help with.
What do clients want?
Clients look at a coach and expect the person to be someone who is confident and responsive. The coach needs to demonstrate knowledge of how to maneuver between the myriad job search strategies that are out there, and the coach must be current with rapidly changing platforms in, say, social media, for example. In terms of expectations about what clients can get from a coach, many clients come with certain preconceived ideas, and so a coach must stay open-minded and often call on intuition and experience in order to produce optimal results for a client.
An experienced coach develops an eye for clients’ strengths, innate talents, and skills but at the same time has to help clients face—and overcome—weaknesses. Everyone has perceived weaknesses; some don’t see them objectively and thus can’t deal with them effectively. Here’s where a good career coach can be potentially crucial. Working with a career coach definitely reduces job search time—occasionally, quite significantly. Above all, a good career coach has to be an excellent listener and know to ask probing questions.
What is a session with a coach like?
Similar to other professionals, each coach has an individual style with which the coach feels confident and effective with clients. Many coaches are generalists, meaning that they help clients with a wide variety of topics such as résumé creation, networking, social media, LinkedIn profiles, written and verbal communications, interview preparation, and salary negotiation. As an example, my subspecialties are interview preparation and salary negotiation, which is of course not to say I don’t help clients with all the other subjects involved in career coaching as well!
While doing interview preparation, we conduct extensive mock interviews. I videotape clients for a few minutes, and then we analyze the tape together. I also provide feedback on a client’s image and make suggestions for improvement.
What is the cost?
Career coaches’ fees vary widely. Most career coaches have Web sites, but not all of them list their fees there. Why? Sessions can last anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours. Some coaches charge by session; others charge a global fee in the thousands of dollars.
My suggestion is caveat emptor: let the buyer beware - and do a thorough evaluation with due diligence. Interview a coach before handing over your money, and above all, if there’s no chemistry between the two of you, run away and find someone else regardless of the cost.