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Mind of Jacka: You Can’t Just Fill a Vacancy

Blogs Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU Jun 27, 2024

The following article showed up in my email the other day from Internal Audit 360: Eight Hiring and Retention Mistakes Internal Audit Leaders Make. I saw the title and couldn’t help myself. I’ve always been interested in how audit departments hire, probably because it was one of those things that I struggled with. (I’m guessing I’m not alone.) I had an interesting history. When I hired good, I hired very, very good. But when I hired bad, it was horrid.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, partly because, while Internal Audit 360 is a trusted source of information, the title did smack of clickbait. But I found much more than clickbait fodder within. There is good information in this article, and I would strongly recommend you take a look.

But here’s what I liked/loved/went apoplectic with giddiness over.

Mistake Number 1: Internal audit recruiting, selection, and retention strategy is not clearly defined.

Mistake Number 2: Existing strategy is not clearly understood or consistently applied.

These first two mistakes focus on an area internal audit does not do well — strategy. Now, I could go on about the various areas where our strategies are incomplete, inconsistent, or nonexistent. But let’s focus on employees.

Show of hands — how many of you have a hiring strategy? Not bad. Not good, but not bad.

I can tell you that, a couple of times, our internal audit department put together a sort of strategy —some ideas of what we wanted to achieve. But we consistently found ourselves falling into the warm body trap. We had a vacancy, we found a warm body, they needed a job, they looked like they could think, so we hired them.

And then let’s take this to the next logical step. You’ve hired someone (good hire, bad hire, in-between hire) and it’s time to train, retain, and/or promote them. Do you have a strategy for how to promote and keep people? Do you even know what you want them to do? Do you have any kind of competency matrix that can help you evaluate and train them?

We talk a lot about getting talent. And we’re not alone. It is a problem for most organizations. But is anyone really taking it seriously? Here’s what I see. An organization (or an internal audit department) says “People are our number one asset.” Then, in the list of their 10 strategies or objectives, “people” is listed as number 10 (if at all).

Yes, take a look at the article listed above to get some ideas about how and how not to hire. But take those first two to heart. You need a people/internal auditor strategy. And, even if you have one, you better be sure everyone knows it and can apply it. And your number one strategy and/or objective better be about people.

Know the talent you need, know how you will get them, know how you will upskill them, and know how you will keep them. At the risk of sounding like an internal auditor, it sounds to me like this is the number one risk within the department, and someone had better set up some controls.

Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU

Mike Jacka is co-founder and chief creative pilot of Flying Pig Audit, Consulting, and Training Services (FPACTS), based in Phoenix.