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Building a Better Auditor: Optimizing Team Communication

Blogs Beatrice Saredo Parodi May 03, 2022

Now that the pandemic peak has passed, many organizations and employees are struggling to find a new normal. Beatrice Saredo Parodi shares a lesson she learned working as a consultant that can help motivate teams during periods of disruptive change.

How do you communicate to and within your team? How is information coming and going and circulating among your team? 

Communication is a very generic word that includes what we write, what we say, what we hear, and what we know. Receiving knowledge through communication is very important; knowledge allows us to work in the correct way and focus our energies in the right direction. 

Business communication, in this larger sense, has several objectives:

  • It makes us happy because we are social animals and we enjoy a chat during a coffee break or after a long meeting.
  • It provides direction, goals, and deadlines because we are business-oriented, we must complete projects and activities, and we require instructions and information to do that.
  • It provides feedback — sometimes positive feedback and sometimes negative feedback — because we want to celebrate when we reach targets, and we want to understand what was wrong when we don't reach targets
  • It makes me feel part of the team to be onboarded and informed of what's going on, even if some activities do not impact me personally (and we could continue this list). 

On a team, there are usually some members working on one task, others on another task, and only a few tasks where the entire team is working closely together. However, the team must progress as a team, even though not all the members are working together on the same tasks. For example, we can have a junior-level auditors performing the easiest tasks, then senior auditors conducting more complex tasks, and the CAE attending the committees with senior management. 

In addition, team members can change across time, because of someone joining or leaving the team or the company, because of periods of holidays or absence in general, or because of someone working from home and someone else working in the office. In fact, many organizations are still struggling with the many disruptive changes to their teams.

This was exactly the situation that I experienced when working as a consultant many years ago: The team was never the same one day to the next, and the colleagues in the office were never the same. At that job, to share information and communication in the general meaning described above (a mixture of instructions and "to dos," rather than social communication and feedback), my boss introduced a one-hour weekly meeting. After two weeks he decided to change that and have a daily catchup in the morning during coffee time. After 10 days, he changed again and decided to have a Monday meeting with junior colleagues and a Friday meeting with the complete team. He continued to change and adapt the format of the meetings and the communication from time to time. 

I realized this was necessary to optimize communication across the team, taking into account the composition of the team, the tasks of the members, the location (in-person or remote), the general mood, and the need to motivate and control.

We did something similar on my current team during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I think we'll continue. One week is never the same as the next, and we also are not the same one week to the next — and we never have to get bored with a standard format.

During the height of the pandemic, with everybody working from home, I remember we initially maintained a weekly one-hour call with the entire team and a weekly 30-minute one-on-one with the boss just because this was what we were used to in the office. After a while, we decided to introduce a 30-minute coffee chat every morning at 11 a.m. because we were used to having coffee together in the office at 11 a.m. Then after some time, we realized it was difficult to attend weekly coffee breaks even though it was very nice to have a relaxed chat without discussing any work-related topics, and we reduced the coffee chats to three times a week. After some weeks, we decided to remove coffee calls and introduce a Friday call to discuss group communication, changes, and general topics. Still later, we agreed to remove the weekly one-on-ones with the boss and make it monthly, and we split the weekly team call into two parts: IT topics on Tuesday and business topics on Thursday.

The point is, we are always trying to find the best way to communicate and improve together, whether it is personal or business, serious or joking, free time or job time. Keep meetings dynamic and fresh and consider the culture and needs of your team.

Beatrice Saredo Parodi

Internal Audit Senior Manager, Euronext based in Milan, Italy.

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