Most of us in business are familiar with the idea (made famous by Stephen Covey) of organising and implementing around priorities, where priorities are determined by assessing both importance and urgency. (See more on this here.)
The degree of urgency typically relates to visibility while the degree of importance relates to results. We tend to react to urgent matters while important matters that are not urgent require more initiative, more proactivity. As a result, important matters often don’t get the attention they deserve.
In working with thousands of people Covey noted that they felt they struggled with using their time effectively due to:
- Inability to prioritise
- Inability or desire to organise around those priorities
- Lack of discipline to execute them, to stay with your priorities and organisation
I have a view that accounting firm owners typically spend up to 50% or more of their time doing tasks which they should not be doing. So if you are an accounting firm owner here is how believe you should spend your time:
- High value client projects
- Marketing and sales activities
- Leading and developing the team
- High level business management
Everything else gets done by someone else. That’s right – you delegate everything else. If you are not an accounting firm owner your list may look slightly different but not greatly.
What I see happening some firms is that early on in the business an owner will by necessity do many things hands on. All normal and expected. What I then see however, is as the business grows and more people come on board, the owner keeps doing things that could now be done by others in the business. Oops!
That you are doing stuff that you should not be doing and that there are others who can do it
To support tasks being done by others, to provide the guidance needed
To use the systems and develop the skills (and also for you to be able to delegate better)
To actually let go despite a bunch of reasons (most of which are not valid!) which provide justification for not letting go
I can tell you that when I worked in accounting firms I was not always using my time as wisely as I might have. No question, I had lapses. What helped was having a third party coach who helped me maintain my focus and develop the discipline and courage required to let stuff be done by others. When you get it right, not only is it empowering for you and your team, it also contributes to success in your business.
What is one task you will not do today that you might otherwise have done? Delegate it. I know you can!
Rob Pillans is an Accounting Firm Management Guru and Accounting Firm Coach, dedicated to helping accountants define their version of success, formulate the strategies and implement them. He provides hands on coaching, consulting, training, mentoring and facilitating all over Australia and New Zealand. He writes a monthly newsletter, which you can sign up for here.