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Playing as One

Blogs Laura Soileau, CIA, CRMA, CPA Dec 02, 2019

Winning internal audit teams need commitment to goals, defined roles, coaching, and lots of practice.​

​Basketball season recently started for my son. He played for the first time last year and really enjoyed the game, so I'm hoping that first-grade basketball will be just as fun. One difference this season is that I'm beginning to see a real distinction between the teams that play together regularly in different leagues throughout the year and the teams that are still finding their way. 

As I watched my son's third game of the season over the weekend — which also was his team's third loss of the season — various thoughts related to teamwork came to mind. Internal auditors often complete their work in teams, and frequently partner with individuals from business units to evaluate key risks within the organization. As such, these five observations will be relevant to readers of this blog:

  1. The entire team is more effective when everyone on the team is committed to its goals and everyone knows his or her expected role. On my son's team, there were several children who all wanted to play point guard at the most recent game. Following a score by the other team, these children would lightly debate who would inbound the ball and who would take the ball up the court. Of course, the coach had provided the direction to the team in advance, but being first graders, the players sometimes lost sight of the coach's instructions. This led to confusion and subpar play for our team. Likewise, in our work teams, team members should be committed and understand the task at hand, in addition to understanding their expected roles.
  2. Practice is key to continued improvement (as mentioned in prior blog posts). Observing the kids play, it was evident which teams (and players) practiced regularly and which teams and players may practice less frequently. Regardless of the sport, activity, or job role, it is important to put in the time and effort to get better.
  3. Committed coaches are critical to the growth and development of team members and the ultimate success of the team. I appreciate all of the volunteer coaches that my son has had over the years. These individuals continue to play a key role in the progress made by my son and his teammates. Similarly, in the professional environment, coaches and managers who are devoted to the success of the team work both with the team and individual team members on specific improvement opportunities. This coaching fosters a culture of continuous improvement.
  4. It is important for the team to reflect on what worked well and what needs improvement. In the moment, we often are focused on accomplishing the immediate task at hand. However, for the team to continue to be successful, we should step back periodically and reflect. Whether it is after completion of a significant milestone or at some set frequency, reflection enables the team to identify both what it did well and opportunities to make adjustments for greater success in the future.
  5. Even in those games or situations in which we don't "win," it is important to have fun. Particularly for children's sports, fun should be kept front and center to foster a love for their game of choice. Likewise, in our professional lives, while some days may be more enjoyable than others, it is important to find joy in our work. Sometimes, it's good to step back and remember why we chose the career path that we did and what we like about it.

Many times, my blog posts take insights and observations from the events happening in my family life. However, it is important to learn from every event and situation. And, as anyone who has spent time with children knows, there is a lot to be learned from kids.

Laura Soileau, CIA, CRMA, CPA