What is the biggest challenge of delegation at your firm?
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The idea of setting aside control and letting others take care of tasks can be a daunting one. Often, the fear of delegation outweighs the desire to remove responsibilities from your shoulders. The refusal to delegate appropriately will result in added stress, overwork, and eventual burnout.
That’s why we at Gusto have partnered with CPA Academy to provide effective delegation strategies for your firm. Our webinar, “How to Delegate Like a Boss,” covered issues surrounding delegation under the guidance of Kristen Rampe.
Kristen Rampe 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 a more effective delegator, read on. This post will cover the fear of delegation, why you should delegate, and the importance of delegating to your team.
Why do managers fear delegation?
For many people in a position of authority, delegation seems unattainable. Many factors may cause you to hesitate when handing a job to someone else, but they all stem from a lack of trust.
One of the most common thoughts is that it is faster and easier for managers to do the work on their own. In the short term, this may be true, but it can keep your team from achieving its potential. If you take the time to delegate work to your team and trust them with those tasks, they will generate efficiency over time.
“Managers need to see themselves more as catalysts for problem-solving than as problem solvers themselves. This goes to those of you who feel like it’s faster to do it [yourself]. That might be true, but your real value-add is being able to manage other people to do the work, and not being the one where it has to come back to you.”– Kristen Rampe
A second fear is not knowing if a task will be done properly by someone else. Even though it is difficult to watch someone make mistakes, this part of the learning process is necessary. When your team can learn from a difficult task, they will develop the accuracy needed to prevent them from making that mistake in the future.
The fear that team members do not have the proper training also makes managers hesitant to delegate. If that is something your firm struggles with, look for options to assist you with training. Taking the time to have a properly trained staff will encourage you to build trust in them.
Though it seems counter-intuitive, delegating tasks throughout your firm is the best way to overcome your fears. By giving your team something to accomplish, you can build the trust that will eliminate your worries.
Why delegate work?
There are many reasons you may hold on to work, but refusing to delegate keeps you from working to your full capability. When you delegate correctly, you gain the ability to leverage your time for specialized work instead of menial tasks. Delegating tasks opens up opportunities to promote strength and growth within your firm:
“It can make your job easier. It might seem harder upfront. If you delegate often and delegate well, it can actually benefit you and the work that you do.”– Kristen Rampe
Assessing a task’s difficulty is a great way to determine whether you should delegate work. Pairing the proper team member with an appropriate skill creates the best opportunity for success. There are four skill-level categories that you should consider when delegating work—basic skills, basic accounting skills, advanced skills, and even higher-value work.
Basic skills consist of day-to-day tasks that require little training. Work requiring basic skills can be handled by someone who doesn’t have specialized training in your firm.
Work that falls under basic accounting skills requires someone who is just beginning their accounting career. Tasks requiring basic accounting skills need someone with conceptual knowledge of the profession who can apply that knowledge to their work:
“[They] have some sort of education in accounting. It could be as early as just graduating, so [they] know some concepts. … [They] can do some actual accounting work.”– Kristen Rampe
Advanced skills require a higher depth of knowledge than basic accounting skills. The tasks within this category require someone who has a deep understanding of accounting. Many times you want to delegate this level of work to someone who specializes in the area:
“[Advanced skills] are when [accountants] can do more complicated processes, work products, returns, [or] whatever it is [they’re] working on within accounting.”– Kristen Rampe
Finally, even higher value work looks at the bigger picture of accounting. People who deal in higher work tend to be business owners. They focus on executive decision-making and generating revenue for the firm.
Breaking down tasks into these four categories allows you to better understand who should be working on them. If the tasks you are trying to accomplish do not reflect your skill level, it is an excellent time to consider delegating tasks:
“When you think on a day-to-day basis [about] where you’re working compared with your experience level … you get more power out of leveraging [your time] when you’re working at the highest level you are capable.”– Kristen Rampe
By delegating the proper tasks to the skill levels of your team, your firm can reap the rewards of delegation. It is important to delegate work to your team to keep your firm running at its maximum potential.
Why is delegation important?
The benefits to delegation are abundant even though it may be hard to hand over responsibility. Delegating work provides an opportunity for your team members to assume more responsibility and lighten your workload. As a result, your firm will run more efficiently and perform at its highest level.
Spreading duties around your team also allows you to set aside menial tasks and focus on higher-level skills. Effective delegation allows you to push yourself to achieve more and relieves you from performing tasks that are not suited to your skill level:
“If you have ten or fifteen years of experience, you’ve learned a lot of things beyond your degree in accounting. … The more time you spend in the basic skills area, typically, you’re doing something that others could do. In other words, things that you can delegate allow you to spend time on higher-value skills. … If you’re spending a whole lot of time doing things that someone else could do … that’s an opportunity to identify where you could be delegating something.”– Kristen Rampe
When you delegate well, you provide learning opportunities for your staff. These opportunities allow your team members to become more confident in their work. The confidence they gain benefits your firm by creating autonomy:
“When you delegate well, it provides a sense of accomplishment in team development. The people that you’re working for feel empowered [because] they were able to try something new, feel challenged, and get better at it.”– Kristen Rampe
The knowledge your staff gains from the responsibility you give them is invaluable. By delegating to your team, they gain skills from real-world experience. This experience will help them grow individually and master skills previously unattained. A side effect of this process is the development of trust:
“[Delegation] develops trust with your team. You are able to show them you’re willing to give them something new to do and trust them with the work. Trust that if it doesn’t come out perfectly, we’re going to resolve it and find a new way to move forward with better skills in the future.”– Kristen Rampe
Incorporating a delegating leadership style into your firm will remove menial tasks from your shoulders, allow you to focus on higher-level skills, and open your firm to grow.
Learn more about the importance of delegation
Delegating work throughout your firm may be difficult, but the benefits are worth it. Your staff gains the potential to feel more empowered, knowledgeable, and trusting when you delegate efficiently. As a result, you begin to look for opportunities to give jobs to your staff instead of keeping them for yourself. These opportunities open up the possibility to turn your firm into a better place for you and your staff.
If you want to learn more about overcoming the fear surrounding delegation and why you should delegate tasks to your team, check out the entire webinar here. Also, if you want to learn more about how to hand off jobs to your firm, be sure to check out Part Two and Part Three 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.