As an accounting firm coach, consultant and mentor I get to see inside many accounting firms. One thing I observe is a high proportion of senior people, partner/director and manager level in particular, doing work that could and should be done by someone at a lower pay rate. Anecdotally I estimate that 50% of the work being done by these people could be delegated. Why is this so? I reckon it can only be because accountants have not fully grasped the benefits of delegation and how to overcome some of the barriers to it that they face.
In the Manager Development Program, which I run at least twice per year, one of the modules is called “The art of delegation”. Although I call it an art, delegation is skill that can be learned. I ask participants to identify the benefits of delegation and they come up with quite a few. That list includes benefits for the person being delegated to, the person delegating and the firm. Done well delegation really is a win/win/win!
Some benefits of delegation
There are many and here are a few for you to consider:
For the delegator
- You stop doing tasks that are not good use of you time – it allows time for higher value activities
- As a director/manager your role is less about personal achievement and more about team achievement through empowerment and effective delegation is a great way to empower
For the delegatee
- Provides an opportunity to learn, develop and shine
- Exposed to a greater variety of work
For the firm
- Broadens the skill base and makes the firm less dependent on any one person
- Support efficiency – tasks being done by the least expensive resource that can complete it and the right time with the right quality
Some barriers to delegation and how to overcome them
I also ask participants in the Manager Development Program to identify barriers to delegation and they always come up with a big list! In the end we get to over 20 barriers and here a few of them and how you can overcome them:
|Barrier||How to overcome it|
|It takes more time to explain than to do the job myself
|This is possibly true but you are missing the point. For tasks that are going to be done multiple times you typically only need to invest time for the first few times and from then on you are ahead. This can provide massive leverage.|
|The person won’t do it the way I do or to the same high standard
|If you have systemised, standardised, documented ways of doing things in your firm the chances are it will be done to a high standard. Accept that there will be other ways to achieve a result and acknowledge the opportunity to find better ways that can come from delegation.|
|No one to delegate to
|There will be instances where this is genuinely the case but in many firms I find that people take a narrow view of who is suitable to delegate to, often because of one or more of the other barriers.|
My experience is that it is a mindset shift that is often needed to overcome apparent barriers to delegation and unlock the huge benefits it offers.
If you’d like to learn more about delegation including the five step framework for effective delegation, I’ve put together an online self-paced workshop which you can find here.
Or I can run a workshop at your firm if you have six or more people who would benefit from it. Contact me on [email protected] if you’d like to chat about this and/or other training needs.