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Leading during 'Business as Unusual': Covid-19 and audit leadership

Reviewing, adapting and communicating are some of the ways to effectively manage your goals



By Peeyush Joardar and Taher Singaporewala

Published: Sun 24 Jan 2021, 5:10 PM

Last updated: Sun 24 Jan 2021, 7:14 PM

Covid-19 has disrupted life, business and the workplace in unprecedented ways. Thanks to technology, business has adapted to these new circumstances and continued almost as usual. This technology-driven remote 'workstyle', or at least many of its elements to a lesser or greater degree, will likely outlast the pandemic to become a normal mode of working and doing business.

New challenges abound both in the short and long-term for audits and audit leaders.

The article highlights a few practical considerations for you as an audit leader on the execution of your audit plans in terms of workflow and team management.

Short-term

Communicate: Maintain clear and consistent lines of communication with your audit teams about the situation. Ask after their health and well-being; reminding them to protect themselves and their families. Manage their anxieties and prevent the spread of unfounded fears. Adhere to guidelines from public health agencies and the organisation.  

Review and adapt constantly: The pandemic has proved that neither audit plans nor ways of working are static. Constantly scrutinise and evaluate those plans and reprioritize any upcoming audits based on their importance, regulatory requirements and ease of execution in disrupted conditions. 

Long-term

Leading in a new world: In the long term, it is all about meeting both the challenges and the opportunities of a new, tech-driven business environment. Empower remote-working talent with the best cost-efficient technology resources while setting guidelines on their working conduct. Identify the operating model that works best for your team and evaluate what changes are necessary. Use rich data analysis and secure remote working tools to execute audits without site visits. Replace as many personal meetings with video conferencing as possible. Constantly review the audit plan and revisit the approach to the audit. Think of creative ways to gain risk coverage. Adapt and up your man management to the new realities. Challenge your team to think and work differently. Give them ownership of assignments and projects. Understand your team members' personal work from home challenges beyond the immediate work and provide appropriate support. Plan virtual team building and socialising activities. And above all, do not micromanage! Remember you lead a team of responsible professionals.  

These are long established leadership best practices and nothing new. However, they assume both new forms and new importance during times of disruption. And now even more than ever, it is incumbent upon you as an audit leader to keep your eye not only on the ball but also on the crystal ball and anticipate and prepare for the road ahead.   

For further questions or clarifications, contact MBG Corporate Services on uae@mbgcorp.com

Peeyush Joardar is partner and Taher Singaporewala is director - audit and assurance

 


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