Over recent months, I have talked with clients about their expectations regarding audits and assessments, from their initial thoughts about these processes, through to the onsite and post-audit detail.  Most people have commented about the important role of trust: in the auditor as well as trust in the certification body overseeing the audit process.  Trust in what the front line staff do to reassure people about the onsite process is incredibly important and this approach commences even before the first phone call is made or email is sent.  Quite often, clients talk about trusting the opinion of other colleagues and friends and acting on their recommendations to make that first contact before fully stepping into the auditing world.

The focus on trust made me think about the important people who are in my life now and the way I trust them, over many years and through many of life’s challenges, joys, sorrows and successes.  Trust is not a one-sided aspect to life: I hope that as much as I trust those other people, they also trust me.  Trust is also a pretty important factor when I think about the role that other people have in the life of my disabled daughter.  In order for my daughter to enjoy life to the fullest, I had to ‘let go of the apron strings’ when she was a teenager, which meant stepping back and letting other people support her, make mistakes, and also do the most incredible things for her that I 100% most definitely could not do.  My daughter has successfully lived independently with support since her early 20s and she has done so many things with her life that I could not have ever foreseen.  All of these other people have been critically important to, and for her: she trusts them to have her best interests at heart.  Trust is also an important factor for me right now as I prepare to transition from my service provider role and responsibility to one where other people will take over that role.  While initially daunting – the letting-go side of things – I realised that I needed to have trust in these people as well as the process.  After all, I have instinctively managed the trust process for many years and I expect that whatever is ahead will be manageable, so long as trust remains in the mix.

Thinking about my role as an auditor / assessor, trust is a critically important factor in successful audits and assessments.  Reflecting on some recent experiences, the way people have greeted me and listened intently to what I have said, particularly in the early phase of establishing what we have to do together for the time that I am with them, have been instrumental in developing trust.  Along the way, staff as well as clients, often ask great questions and there are opportunities to talk about the many positive aspects of what the organisation provides.  Stories are shared, and I am often left wanting to know more.  And hopefully this trust is reciprocated, through my genuine interest in deeply understanding and appreciating what they are doing, why they are doing what they do, and how their actions make a difference in the life of their clients (whether internal or external).  I have trust in the process – and I certainly aim for people to have trust in what I am doing there as well.

To me, trust means having confidence, faith or hope in someone or something.  I know that it’s important to have the ability and strength to do what I say I am going to do, and to be truthful about what I can and can’t do.  I strive to be truthful and accurate with what I am saying and doing – because my body language is also a key factor in the trust equation.  What I know to be true is that trust needs to be built and it can just as easily be destroyed – by both the client as well as the auditor.  Does everyone always consider this in an audit or assessment situation?  I don’t know for sure, but being mindful about trustworthiness is an important step along the way.

Thinking ahead:

  1. How does trust factor into your preparations for audit?
  2. Do you see your auditor as trustworthy? What does it feel like when you know this to be true? What can be done when the auditor is not trustworthy?
  3. Do your staff have a sense of trust that their work is valued and respected by the auditor? If not, what can be done to address this?