6 Lessons You Can Use to Help Internal Auditors Plan Their Careers

The future is bright for internal auditors. Demand for their skills is high, and internal auditors are playing larger roles within their organizations. That’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news: Career development programs are getting left behind. Only 25 percent of employers polled for Towers Watson’s Talent Management and Rewards Survey said they have defined career paths in place for managers and staff-level workers. Without career advice and planning support, employees can feel disconnected, demotivated and more likely to jump ship.

In a recent webinar called Show Them the Way: Using Employee Career Paths to Build, Improve and Retain Your Internal Audit Team, which we hosted with The Institute of Internal Auditors (The IIA), Paul McDonald, senior executive director with Robert Half, and Larry Harrington, senior vice chairman of The IIA and vice president of internal audit at Raytheon Company, shared ways internal audit leaders can put in place better career planning activities to motivate and keep top performers on board.

Here are six lessons learned from the experts:

1. Identify skills gaps. 

Examine the talent management landscape within your department to uncover the skills your team lacks and factors that might be preventing them from getting ahead. For example, your team may not be fully up-to-speed on recent regulatory compliance changes. Then, evaluate training needs, performance management and mentoring programs to help fill these gaps.

2. Connect with your team.

Internal auditors want a leader who cares about their career path and will help them succeed. Devote time to connecting with each of your employees through frequent check-ins, regular performance reviews and weekly meetings. 

3. Take alignment into consideration.


You can help build a more robust talent pipeline by promoting your own top performers and welcoming rising stars from elsewhere in the organization to join your ranks. This talent exchange strengthens idea generation and innovation and prevents stagnation.

4. Invest in training.


For many senior managers, “professional development” is akin to “dip in productivity.” This way of thinking is shortsighted. If you invest in training for your internal auditors, they’ll be increasingly productive, and your organization will reap the benefits of a more skilled and satisfied workforce. 

5. Respect generational differences.


Millennials will soon comprise a majority of the workforce, so it’s essential to take them into consideration when drafting career development initiatives. These younger workers are highly connected, increasingly mobile, hard working and driven by success. 

6. Pool resources.


Tap other chief audit executives, your HR department and members of your professional network for new staff management strategies. Also take advantage of external resources. To build their soft skills, for example, you might encourage your internal auditors to join public speaking groups. Most importantly, devote your own time to helping employees build and follow through on their individual career development plan.

Listen to a replay of the Show Them the Way webinar for additional tips you can use to help internal auditors plan their careers with your organization. And share your own strategies in the comments section below.

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