Auditors, we either love or loathe them! Many do a fantastic work day in day out, and as in most professions in the world today there are some who do not do the profession justice by their actions or inactions. This piece today is not about good or bad auditing, it’s just about a couple of white lies auditors have been known to tell and some of the reasons behind these white lies.
1.“I am trying to help you”- you will usually hear this when an auditor wants to raise a non-conformity for something that is borderline, where he or she suspects you might have an objection to the finding being raised. It is taking the safe approach, that it is being done for your company’s good when in reality it might be that the auditor is taking liberty and advantage of your ignorance of the standard in making what potentially could have been a simply observation into a minor non-conformity.
2.“This is how our certification body/UKAS interprets it”- this is usually brought out as a last resort especially when a point becomes significantly contentious in an audit situation and the auditor is finding that his/her argument is not winning on the day. By simply leveraging the authority of the accreditation body, mind not whether the claim is actually correct; in most cases it usually calms down the opposition from most people who would have contended a point up until that moment. Usually when this doesn’t work, they resort to the more truthful statement, that “you can appeal to the certification body if you are unhappy with this” usually with their fingers crossed hoping that you will not take up this offer.
3. The unbelievable quality-hero stories - having audit experience stories to tell is considered as part of the factors that give an auditor credibility. Most experienced auditors have brilliant stories to tell usually relevant to the issues in discussions and these are very good for providing context and engaging the auditee. However when you have stories that are so precisely similar to the issue at hand or that gives significant heroic credence to the auditor, you might be right if you take it with a pinch of salt. It is not unusual for auditors to appropriate brilliant stories they have heard from their colleagues and own the credit of it. The chances of ever finding out that an auditor lied or appropriated a story is very difficult near impossible as you see them just once in a year and never really do get in contact with any third parties they tell you about.
It is important to stress that in so many instances an auditor might be fully honest in every one of these 3 scenarios. But if there is a chance that your auditor is ever telling a little white lie, it will lie between these 3 scenarios.