When I first entered the management system audit arena, it was common practice to measure auditor skills by the number of Non-Conformance reports they managed to raise. As an unwilling newcomer I found this a disturbing feature of a business I didn’t want to be in, but interestingly my efforts to extradite myself from the audit function led to a change in the responses I got from auditees. By auditing for confirmation of satisfactory outcomes, as opposed to auditing for failure identification, the results while not converting auditees into welcoming friends, did produce a change in attitude to a pending audit notification. Auditees came see audits as an opportunity to discuss their work free of fear that the discussion would be used against them to further the reputation of the auditor, and gained from the experience.
At that period, and unfortunately 30 years later, there is still a great deal wrong with the usual conduct of both internal and third party audits. My own assessment of the evidence is that audit managers, and this frequently means business quality managers, use the internal audit process to make a point that they have failed to make in the management forum of their employers business. Having generated a series of spurious deficiency reports and comments, they wonder why nobody takes their input seriously. Reports are still being put forth based on little else than the personal opinion of the auditor, and blended together to create what is presented as a pending disaster for everyone involved in the business processes. These auditors, have for the most part little if any understanding of business management, or even an appreciation of the business objectives of their employer.
Disruptive and potentially destructive auditing can never be local in its consequences. Those who experience such auditing leave it with a sense of injustice for themselves and contempt for the audit process, which impacts on other audits and auditors regardless of their own performance.
Destructive auditors impose their own views on organisations and their systems, believing they know better than their management. Destructive auditors report simple system errors without adequate investigation. Destructive auditors create non-conformances from assumptions and possibilities. Destructive auditors create conflict.
Positive auditors work on the basis of co-operation, and an interest in improving the management system in order to increase its value to the stakeholders of the business.
However, altering the attitudes and audit method of an established auditor or audit team is in my personal opinion a useless endeavour. Auditing is as much a social activity as it is a technical task, and changing social attitudes can take generations, primarily because of the earlier damage done by bad auditing practices. The way to change is a change of the audit team, and the present economic climate is supplying an opportunity for this kind of change.