Are Your Audits a Masquerade Ball?

I once witnessed the following exchange:

Registrar auditor:  "Can this calibration database run a list of all overdue instruments?"

Calibration technician:  "Yes."  (And proceeds, without being prompted, to print a list of dozens of overdue items.)

It was the kind of exchange that encourages management to “train” employees how to be audited.  Too many employees are coached to answer exactly what the auditor asks. No more. No less. (In other words, do not volunteer a list of inspection equipment overdue for calibration.)

But is that really the best approach? No company wants to ratchet up their number of nonconformities.  But what is gained when employees are asked to withhold information from the auditor? The auditor’s job is to gather evidence, evaluate it objectively, and determine the extent to which the criteria (e.g., ISO 9001) is fulfilled.  The auditor's assessment will be more accurate when it is based on more information.

Drop the masquerade.

What would happen if your company dropped the masquerade and tried transparency instead?

A good auditor should be able to provide an audit report and list of nonconformities that provide value to the company. You are paying for these audits anyway; why not get some value from them?  If you trust your auditor and your quality management system, try transparency

What if you have a lousy auditor? Well, in that case, silence is golden (and duct tape is silver).