Delegating Responsibility for Accountants
Delegation may be the best time-management tool and is key to a successful organization. As you've probably noticed by now, YOU can't do everything. Your goal should be to delegate projects down into your organization and profit from the staffers underneath you. If you're a business owner, this can be hard a first. You've worked hard to grow your business to where it is, and the thought of giving someone else control can be difficult at first. But, if you want to continue to grow and thrive you'll need to trust staff to take over certain responsibilities.
Sharing responsibilities also keeps other members of your firm interested and motivated about their contribution. It also contributes to learning and job enrichment. Instinctively, most accountants are reluctant to delegate because you want to make sure the job is done right (e.g., your way). However, failure to delegate can make staff members of your firm feel unimportant, apathetic and lower firm productivity.
Management of any organization really comes down to the ability to get things done through other people. Effective team leaders learn to effectively delegate and build strong organizations that are productive and motivated underneath them. Junior staff members enjoy challenges and job enrichment....and generally rise to meet your expectations. When they step up to the plate and succeed, don't forget to praise and reward them. This process makes them more valuable to you and the firm.
In sports, we've all seen examples of head coaches that delegate responsibility and their system creates many successful future head coaches. Coaches like Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, and Bill Parcells are perfect examples.
Financially, delegation is a wonderful thing as well. Your time is worth more to your organization than staffers underneath you. If you can push work down into the organization from your hourly rate to someone making a fraction of your hourly rate, you've lowered your cost of service and can now spend time on higher end tasks.
The best time to delegate responsibility down is when there is a lot of work to be done, like tax season, and there are junior staffers that can benefit from additional responsibility. YOU benefit from delegation by not spreading yourself too thin, gaining satisfaction from seeing junior staffers grow and develop, and allowing yourself time to bring in more business throughout tax season.
Before delegating, be strategic about how you organize who takes on what additional work, where the responsibility lies, and provide an explanation to your team. You do not want to position this change as a "dumping" exercise.
Below are some guidelines for effective delegation:
- Choose the appropriate person
- Explain why the person was chosen for this task.
- Delegate segments or portions that make sense. Not bits and pieces.
- Discuss the task at hand. Invest the time upfront. Accept that it may take them more time initially but in the long-run, their proficiency will improve.
- Clearly define expectations and responsibilities.
- Give accurate and honest feedback. Allow for mistakes. Praise and encourage.
- Support your staffers by sharing resources, knowledge and plans.
- Really delegate. Cut the strings. Don't look over their shoulder constantly.
- Post-evaluation. After tax season, evaluate things; make changes to improve productivity even further. Provide financial rewards for a job well done.
- Delegate more of your responsibilities before you are too busy.
Push yourself to delegate more of the work on your plate and create a learning environment within your firm. Use the extra time to bring in more business and transition into a "coaching" role like Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick or Bill Walsh.