Emerge began delivering the development programmes with the Internal Audit Department of BAE Systems in 2004. We started by focusing on the Internal Audit process induction programme, which we piloted with a small team. What we discovered was that the ‘real’ case study experience that the teams worked through was immensely useful in helping to embed the learning and it gave them a safe environment in which they could practise soft skills, think critically, debate in a safe environment and suggest creative ideas for improvement. The actual ‘process’ training had been designed by the internal L&D team and very effectively introduced the audit members to the formal process, but internal audit as a department recognised that there was a gap in developing stakeholder management skills.
We worked with the internal team to develop an integrated programme built around a case study, which would focus on real issues that the organisation had encountered. The following is an overview of how the case study was embedded within the programme and linked to the audit soft skills development requirement:
• Delegates were introduced to the internal audit process (in later years this was removed and delivered before they attended the programme to allow for more soft skills practice and focus on skills development).
• An external actor played the Head of Audit and delivered a brief from the sponsor, which the delegates were encouraged to interrogate.
• The delegates followed the process through in a logical order, writing a TOR for the audit, identifying what they needed to investigate
• Delegates were introduced to effective interviewing skills and taken to another level in active listening and questioning. Emerge scripted and created a video (with the direction and support of the Head of Audit) demonstrating different styles of poor interviewing skills, which was tailored for the group as ‘typical’ traps or poor habits that many had fallen into. They then prepared to undertake some interviews from their examination of the case study.
• The interviewees are played by ex-members of the Audit department who ensure they give the delegates a realistic element of challenge. The facilitators watch the interviews and give in depth feedback to the delegates. The interviews are also captured on camera so that they can review them later so that delegates can use for personal reflection.
• Following the interviews the delegates work together to sift the findings and complete a learning log and to agree the grading and recommendations.
• Following some input from the facilitator they also practice writing an executive summary with in depth critique from facilitators and other course members.
• The facilitator then introduces the concept of stakeholder management and techniques for managing conflict.
The key focus for the programme is around developing Emotional Intelligence. This is applied both to the Audit Team and Stakeholders – discussing techniques for kicking off an audit by identifying roles and working styles, and managing other difficult behaviour from stakeholders. The team learns how to deliver difficult news to the sponsor/client and identifies tools that ensure they are constantly nurturing and building relationships. We also cover where support can be gained from, how to manage responsible behaviour issues during the audit and have to work positively with high states of emotion and the need to manage our own state.
Finally the group prepare to deliver the findings formally to the sponsor by doing an informal run through with the Head of Audit, where challenges are made to the findings of the Audit Team. After finalising the interview, the delegates deliver formally to the sponsor who is again played an external person acting as an MD.
As well as the Internal Audit induction programme, we also deliver single Masterclasses covering:
• Report writing
• Advanced Interviewing Skills
• Report Writing Action Learning Sets
• Conflict Management
This programme has been improved upon year-on-year, as various different internal facilitators from BAE Systems have taken over and Gillian Jones-Williams (MD of Emerge Development Consultancy Ltd) has worked constantly on the redesign and continued evolution of the programme. To date, it has been delivered to delegates from the UK, Saudi Arabia, Australia and the US.
Emerge have also facilitated several of the Audit Annual Conferences, which has allowed us to understand more about how audit departments operate, what their biggest challenges are and what needs to be done to aim for practices that can be deemed world-class and industry leading.