Do you effectively monitor tasks you delegate to your employees?
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The idea of setting aside control and letting others take care of tasks can be a daunting one. Often, the difficulty of assigning tasks to employees and allowing them to work without interference becomes enough to avoid delegating work. However, the refusal to allow your team to work autonomously adds stress, overwork, and eventual burnout.
That’s why we at Gusto have partnered with CPA Academy to provide quality monitoring strategies for your firm. Our webinar, “How to Delegate Like a Boss,” covered the issues surrounding delegation under the guidance of Kristen Rampe.
Kristen is the founder and principal of Rampe Consulting in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She offers guidance to accountants through individual coaching, workshops, and retreats to improve their firms nationwide.
If you struggle with delegation or want to learn how to be more effective at monitoring your team, this post is for you. We will cover the best ways to delegate responsibility, the benefits of a delegating leadership style, and how to monitor employees effectively.
What is your monitoring style?
Most managers’ monitoring styles fall within two sides of a monitoring spectrum. Each firm is unique, so there isn’t a perfect answer for how you should manage, but working too far on either end of the scale could result in inadequate management of your team. Ultimately, your monitoring style stems from the trust you have in your group.
On one end of the spectrum, you have a manager who undermanages their team. They allow their employees to have free reign on a project but never follow up with them:
“It starts out with a manager who says, ‘Hey, can you do this project for me?’ And then weeks go by. Then they swing by, and they’re like, ‘Oh, you have finished the project? Good, I’ll take a look at it in a week or so.’ The reality is, sometimes it’s a month or even longer. … This [monitoring style] shows trust because it lets your team run with [the task], but it also offers little care and concern for what someone might need to be able to do their job well.”– Kristen Rampe
Managers on the other side of the spectrum tend to micromanage their employees. This monitoring style displays a lack of trust and keeps your team from working with autonomy.
“On the other end of the spectrum, it starts the same. ‘Hey, can you do this project for me?’ Then it’s followed up with, ‘Make sure you do these specific things and let me know when you make a decision.’ Then it’s, ‘Wait, let me just help you with this part of it.’ Which eventually turns to, ‘I’ll just do it. Thanks.’ … This [monitoring style] shows a lack of trust.”– Kristen Rampe
Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, there is always room to work on your monitoring style. Three things you can do to improve the way you monitor are: set up a time to review the project along the way, connect with your employees about their work process, and plan for rework.
Set up a time to review work
When you plan to delegate responsibility to your team, keep the individuality of your team members in mind. Some of your employees will require less review than others because of their experience and familiarity with the task. Be sure to balance your review strategies to maximize efficiency:
“If you have a person in mind for a project, that you’ve worked with a lot in the past, and you trust them. … You don’t need to set up as much time to review along the way. … But maybe on a different project, [your team members] do need a little more monitoring because it’s new to them. … Newness generally is a great time to add in more review along the way.”– Kristen Rampe
Keep the project’s duration in mind as you plan to review work while your team is working. Smaller tasks usually do not require as much review as large projects because of the depth of the work. As a project becomes increasingly more complex, the amount of review should also increase. Appropriately gauging the amount of review throughout a project will build your team’s confidence in your management.
When you build opportunities for reviews into the delegating process, the trust within your team will grow. Reviewing during the work process allows you to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands their responsibilities. While performing reviews, you also gain the ability to connect with your staff about their work process.
Connect with your employees
Connecting with your employees is crucial for effective delegation. Many times, it is easier to tell your team what to do rather than gaining insight into why they did something. However, taking the time to gain insight into your employee’s work process provides an effective way to fix mistakes and encourage good work:
“Rather than saying, ‘Well, you missed this thing. You didn’t do that. I told you this and you didn’t do it.’ It’s, ‘Walk me through what you’ve done here.’ When you do that, you get a lot more information, and things become really clear about why they did what they did. Going from there is a lot easier.”– Kristen Rampe
The knowledge you gain from connecting with your employees about their process becomes a vital tool for the monitoring process. Knowing the “why” behind your team’s process gives you the power to manage from a place of understanding. This understanding ultimately makes you a better delegator.
“When you take the time [to ask employees to walk you through their process] instead of telling them what they did wrong and how to fix it, [you’re] going to get a lot more from the conversation. You are going to be able to dive deeper into being a better delegator and working with the people you give work to.”– Kristen Rampe
Developing a connection with your employees about their work deepens the trust needed to become an effective monitor. You gain invaluable insight into how you need to correct missteps and improve workflow. The trust you build with your team provides you with the opportunity to transition into the rework process from a place of understanding.
Plan for rework
The final step in the monitoring process is rework. Instead of fixing mistakes for your team members, be sure to take the time for instruction on how to fix the problems. Instructing your team through their mistakes gives them a better understanding of how to avoid problems in the future:
“If you find that more often than not, you are fixing things [for your team]. It can be a real challenge in developing the team member you are trying to give more skills. … Taking time to get [projects] back, review them, and send them back [for rework] is important.”– Kristen Rampe
Taking the time for rework provides opportunities to attain new skills and refine existing skills. While planning rework on a project, don’t lose focus on why rework is essential. Be careful to provide a rework process that encourages growth and doesn’t focus on minor issues:
“You’re not sending things back because of a missing comma. … You’re sending it back and saying, ‘One of the things I need you to do is recheck the dates, or you need to proofread, or you need to learn how to do this section.’ Being able to have the time [for rework] built into your role as the delegator is important in the monitoring process.”– Kristen Rampe
After you spend the time reworking the task with your employee, the monitoring process ends, and it becomes time to review the project. Successfully working through the monitoring process makes it easier for you to review work and provide helpful feedback.
Learn more about the review process and quality monitoring
After you wrap up the monitoring process, the review phase begins. Review is simple when you properly work through the steps of delegation. The process gives you the ability to filter through the project and provide the best feedback possible:
“When you do the handoff and monitoring well, the review becomes easy. There are just a couple of nice and easy steps to take when you do the previous steps well. First, meet in person or by phone to review the project. The second step is similar to monitoring. Ask them why they did what they did. … Third is reminding them how their work connects to the bigger picture. … [Lastly], ask what you can do as the person delegating to make the process smoother.”– Kristen Rampe
Monitoring your employees’ progress may be difficult, but the benefits are worth it. Properly monitoring the tasks you delegate to your team gives your staff the potential to feel more empowered, knowledgeable, and trusting of your leadership. As a result, you open up the possibility to create a positive environment within your firm.
If you want to learn more about delegating tasks to your employees, check out the entire webinar here. Also, if you want to learn more about how to delegate effectively and the benefits of delegation, be sure to check out Part One and Part Two of this webinar article series.
Here at Gusto, we partner with firms to provide solutions for making your firm reach its full potential. Be sure to look into our People Advisory Program to learn how you can train your team to reach its potential. We also provide a partner blog full of resources for all your advising needs. Visit our Gusto for Accountants page for more information on utilizing people-based accounting within your firm.