All businesses that have conducted an internal audit would be aware of some of the challenges that may occur that will slow down the process. Miscommunication, convoluted procedures, and confusing documentation are just some of the issues that companies may need to address when conducting an internal audit of their operations. However, it is crucial for organisations to deal with all operational challenges in a respectful, non-judgemental manner, and aim to solve the problem, rather than assign blame. Doing so helps put staff at ease, demonstrates a concern for their mental wellbeing, and contributes to the development of an open, reciprocal working environment. Businesses can achieve the above through the development of soft skill sets, such as active listening, impartiality, and focusing on solving problems, rather than placing blame. This article will discuss how the development of soft skillsets is integral to overcoming auditing challenges.
Active listening helps businesses understand and overcome challenges
Firstly, what is active listening? It is a communication technique where the listener is extremely attentive to what is being said, paying close attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues that may convey important, relevant information. By demonstrating to speakers that you are practicing active listening they may feel more respected, be inclined to open up to you, and help you develop clear strategies for overcoming challenges.
It is an important technique to practice in business environments as it can help put staff at ease, which is crucial when you are working with them to overcome auditing challenges. By developing soft skillsets businesses build trust, empathy, and open communication across a working environment. Can you remember the last time you encountered a problem at work, and how you worked at overcoming it? If you went to your boss to discuss the challenge with them and they responded angrily, accusing you of incompetence and unprofessionalism, how would you react? In that situation, most people would become defensive, and focus their energy on developing a rebuttal. This can lead to an argument, with both parties getting upset at each other, while the larger operational challenges remain unresolved.
Active listening is a much better approach for successfully overcoming auditing challenges; listen to your staff, demonstrate that you hear their concerns, and then work at solving the problem rather than placing blame. Soft skills such as active listening and empathy will see employers ask staff questions like “Can you explain the problem to me?”, “What do you think we should be doing to overcome this?”, and “What can I do to help you with this situation?” Questions such as these focus on overcoming the issue rather than blaming staff for the issue occurring in the first place and so, are much more effective in helping businesses successfully deal with auditing issues.
Further, active listeners should paraphrase the key points the speaker has made, to demonstrate that they are listening to what is being said, that they are hearing and absorbing the information, and that they correctly understand the issue the speaker is discussing. Not only does this ensure that there is no miscommunication between speaker and listener, it also works at building trust, as the speaker will see that their concerns are being heard and addressed.
What businesses can do to demonstrate a commitment to staff wellbeing
The active listening approach not only demonstrates a commitment to the mental wellbeing of staff and effective problem-solving solutions, it also works at developing a more efficient workplace. To get the maximum benefit from this approach, active listeners should approach it from three different angles; emotional, causational, and call to action, and discuss each aspect with relevant staff.
Commence with the emotional stage, which helps develop trust and empathy. This stage sees the active listener engaging in the conversation, by asking questions to staff about how they felt when the issue occurred, how they feel now, whether they are okay, what steps could be taken to put them at ease, and so on. Following this, the causational stage is an inquiry-based process, designed to identify why the issue occurred. Staff may be asked what they believe went wrong in the operational processes that led to the issue occurring, whether it could have been avoided, what procedures could be implemented to prevent reoccurrence, and so on. Finally, the call-to-action stage sees active listeners discuss with staff what steps they will now be taking to rectify the issue, and what needs to be done to ensure they can work to the best of their ability in the future.
By now, you should have a clearer understanding about what strategies businesses can be practicing to overcome operational challenges in a supportive, non-judgemental manner. There are several internationally recognised Business Management Systems that can help with this process, including ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems Standards and ISO 45001 OH&S Standards. They both help companies develop clear processes for overcoming operational challenges, identifying inefficiencies, mitigating convoluted processes, and ensuring that staff feel more supported whilst working.
Our specialist consultants are here to help
Reading this article has probably left you with some questions about the specifics of this process, how it might be applied to particular situations, how the implementation of a certified Business Management System can help with this, and so on. Please contact our specialist consultants today by filling out this simple online contact us form, or by phone on 1300 802 163 for a short, no-obligation consultation about some operational challenges your business is working to overcome. By providing them with specific information about your company, including its industry, size, work type, and so on, they can then clearly discuss with you what Business Management System could help you realise these goals. Following this, they can arrange for an industry specialist to work closely with your organisation, to help it achieve its operational goals, and develop a reputation as a supportive, reputable business to work for. Wouldn’t you agree that is a conversation worth listening to?
Please click here to read about the importance of the internal auditing process for OH&S Management Systems.