There was tension in the air, the kind you could easily cut into with a knife. No one was prepared for it and no one saw it coming. It was another boring day at the office until the middle aged man in stripped three-piece suit and alligator shoes walked through the doors in the company of two ladies immaculately dressed in black suits, white shirts and daunting Gucci briefcases. He spoke briefly with the security at the door who stiffened and walked towards the manager’s office a little smarter and more brusquely than usual. The man surveyed the office environment like a principal would a dormitory during Saturday inspection, looking over the rim of his glasses and then through it, as if comparing the difference between the two visions. The manager appeared moments later obviously very upset and desperately trying to hide it. He shook hands with the stranger in suit, his plastic smile wider than it should be. Snatches of their conversation floated to the people around them, causing a change in the atmosphere like a really bad fart smell moving through a sealed room “headquarters didn’t tell me…, it’s a full scale auditing…, every arm is involved…, it would last a week…,. Like a bad nightmare, the office where everyone had gone through the morning routine and settled to perform the auto pilot duties while secretly waiting for close of work, turned into a bee hive of activities. Headquarters had come unannounced to audit the firm, and no stone is to be left unturned, unfortunately, no one was prepared. cor. When you are audited and discrepancies are found, the hammer comes down; you are arrested even jailed or worse.
Just like in business, in life we get audited; it is that judgment that comes on our actions like meat put on a scale. We are either found wanting or we measure up. The tricky thing about audits is;
- They are not done every day. In standardised organisation, it’s once a year, in others it’s as the need arises
- It is usually not announced when an audit will take place; it comes as a thief, hence, the general hatred for the external auditor.
- No excuses are good enough since it is meant to check efficiency and effectiveness.
Like as an office, life usually allows everything go uninterrupted until audit day when without warning, we are caught in a trap of something that used to be normal activity. You have seen people who got audited by life; you come across them every day. The thief who had been causing mayhem for years gets caught on a routine robbery, guy who is so used to fast and reckless driving since his youth days gets involved in a ghastly accident, a teenager who had been having sex at home with the neighbour gets caught by her dad, a student who had been cheating in exam from first year gets caught in the last exam of final year and the list goes on and on. The common denominator is that these people would pay for something they had gotten so used to getting away with.
Before you cast that first stone let’s take a good look at your life as the good book asks. Just because others got audited does not mean that you are better than they are. Many of us are worse than these people; the only difference is that they got caught while we escaped. The lady dancing down the aisle in a white flowing wedding dress is no better than the girl who had to do a church blessing because she was pregnant before marriage if the two of them practiced premarital sex. The guy on the board of directors determining whether to fire or suspend the chairman who embezzled funds stole more money from the organisation but has not been caught, the James Bond driver who hails himself every time he narrowly misses a crash is not necessarily a better driver than the one who just got crushed on the steering.
Being audited may not be avoided, but being found wanting could be managed if we reduced the amount of risks we expose ourselves to. The driver may not avoid a crash, but he can reduce his chances drastically by avoiding reckless manoeuvers. The corporate executive may not avoid a business crisis, but he can reduce his chances of litigation by having a clear and honest accounting system. You know the areas of your life where you have been living on the edge, the places where you could be audited any day and wouldn’t last the round. If you consistently keep making bad lifestyle choices, you increase your chances of being audited or judged. Let us consciously begin to reduce our risk factors because someday it may be our turn to answer to the man in stripped suit and alligator shoes.