When the Auditing Fun Stops

While attending GAM this week in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to watch the activities occurring in the casinos. In case you didn’t know, there is quite a bit of gambling that goes on here. It did not take me long to draw a parallel; to realize that, just as there are people who do not seem to be able to leave the casino floor, there are also people who seem to have trouble leaving their audit work at home. And then I made the startling (but in hindsight obvious) conclusion that I was attending a meeting which abounded with those types. People who, when offered the joys of a town like Las Vegas, chose to attend meetings about and talk about internal auditing. These people were seriously addicted. With that in mind, I decided the only recourse was to produce a brochure to awaken individuals to the hazards of protracted internal auditing; a brochure called “When the Auditing Fun Stops.” Following are excerpts from that brochure.

“In the beginning I audited because it was fun. It was magical the way auditing freed me from the worries, fears, and frustrations of everyday living. When the problems began, I convinced myself that one more audit would solve everything. But one audit led to another, leaving me with the pain of lost time, lost self-respect, and the pain of losing control…”

                -Anonymous

For most people, auditing is a job — a fun activity that can be enjoyed without harmful effects. But for some, it’s not just a job — it’s a serious problem that continues, even after the job is over. Just as some people can become addicted to alcohol or drugs; it is possible for a person to become obsessed with an uncontrollable urge to audit.

This is problem auditing — a debilitating illness that often remains hidden until the consequences of repeated auditing begin to affect the financial and emotional security of the auditor and his or her company. Problem auditing is not easily detected. The person with an auditing problem often will go to great lengths to maintain a normal appearance, while covering up the consequences of their auditing.

Some of the indicators that a person may be suffering from an auditing problem include:

  • Losing time from school, friends, or family due to auditing.
  • Repeated failed attempts to stop or control the auditing.
  • Borrowing worksheets to complete audit work.
  • Auditing to escape worry or trouble.
  • Neglecting the care of one’s self or social skills in order to audit (the latter being particularly hard to discern).
  • Lying about the amount of time and computer space used on auditing
  • Auditing more risks in an attempt to make up for previously missed risks (chasing).
  • Selling or pawning personal possessions to get more office supplies for audits.
  • Feelings of independence, objectivity, or superiority as a result of auditing.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the fear, frustration, or anger caused by an auditing problem, you are not alone. By reaching out to people who understand, you can find the help you need — without fear of judgment or pain or expression of an opinion. The Auditors HelpLine is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions and offer confidential assistance. Just remember that it is up to you to want to change, because we do not do original work.

Posted on Mar 16, 2011 by Mike Jacka

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