One area of CPA firm management that does not get enough attention is delegation of work to junior team members, which can otherwise invariably improve work efficiency. All levels are guilty of not delegating the tasks at hand, especially senior management and partners. This is precisely because there exists a natural tendency to not delegate the work with common thoughts being, ” I can do it faster myself than I can teach or explain it to someone else”.
Also, many people enjoy doing easy work, ones that do not require much thinking. They also sometimes lack the will to break free from routine work, which can give them a chance to solve complex problems and develop leadership skills.
This kind of thinking is detrimental to the profitability of a CPA firm. It either results in write-downs of chargeable time or inflated billings to clients. Proper delegation pushes work down to the lowest level of competency and the lowest billing level.
So, remember that if it takes a junior accountant twice as long as it would take you to do a task, the charge to the client could still be less than if you did the task twice as fast.
For example, if your billing rate is $300 per hour, and you charge for that one hour, the charge to the client is $300. If a junior accountant’s billing rate is $100 per hour and they perform the task in 2 hours, $200 is charged to the client. There is a potential $100 write-down if, at the time of billing, it is determined that the task was not worth $300. If you bill on the hourly rate, the client gets a benefit. If you fix the price on an engagement or value bill, the firm can potentially earn a higher fee and profit, but we will discuss this in another article.
Here are 5 delegating points that will help in the professional development of your employees provided by Lisa Holden Rovers, MSc, CPHR, PCC, the Founder of Workplace Matters, in an article I found online: “Think about a time when you delegated a task to someone, and it did not go as planned. Got that picture in mind? As you review each of the five steps below, ask yourself two questions: What did I, as the leader, do well? What could I do differently next time? ”
Effective delegation requires you to clearly define the task and efficiently distribute the workload management. It also involves an appropriate level of autonomy and support, as well as a plan in place to monitor and review the assigned task. In all this, your leadership skills play a crucial role that should not be overlooked.
However, before you can do any of this, you need to have a task analysis to determine what can be delegated, to what extent, and to whom. Thus, the starting point of delegation requires you to examine your own work first to see what tasks can be delegated later.
Step 1: Analyze Your Tasks
This step will help you to assess whether you are working on your most important priorities while developing others. In other words, this step is about task prioritization, which is necessary for the steady growth of your firm. What tasks no longer need to be done and therefore can be dumped? What tasks can you partially or fully delegate? What can only be done by you?
Step 2: Select the Delegate
To ensure you are deciding on the best person to delegate a task to, assess their abilities, interests, and needs. What are their strengths and development needs or interests? What new responsibilities are they motivated to take on? Are they under or over capacity? Who on your team is, therefore, best suited to do this task?
After all, leadership delegation is a cornerstone for achieving the best results and satisfying your clients by all means.
Step 3: Define the Task
If the task objective is not clear in your mind, chances are it won’t be clear to the delegate. Create a desired outcome for the task, such as “complete the report with 100% accuracy by Friday at noon.” This will enable them to understand the importance of time management, helping them to complete the task within the stipulated time with greater efficiency.
Determine what is non-negotiable and what decision-making authority the delegate will have. What milestones need to be met? What progress updates are required?
When you do the task well, it will be carried out by the delegate in a better way, leading to client satisfaction in the long run.
Step 4: Provide Support
The delegate will likely need more support when completing a new and unfamiliar task. What information, knowledge, skills, or resources does the delegate need from you or someone else to be successful? How will these be provided?
By knowing this, you’ll be able to promote team productivity in your organization.
Step 5: Monitor and Review
Despite your best planning, any delegated task can meet its share of obstacles. How will you ensure the agreed-upon progress reporting occurs so that you are aware of obstacles early on? How will you provide coaching support so that obstacles can be resolved? How will you hold yourself and the delegate accountable for this?
To know it all, it is essential to conduct a performance evaluation, so that everyone is clear about where they stand and whether they are carrying out the task rightly.
Follow these five steps, and you will have a stronger chance of the delegated tasks staying on track and finishing as planned. And this, my friend, will help you zap any excuses to not delegate!
Your Leadership Challenge: For one week, list all your tasks – anything you touch, write it down. Then, identify which tasks you can either wholly or partially delegate (Step 1) and which you must retain. Select one task you can delegate – not your most complex – and apply Steps 2-5 in the process. Assess what you learned from your experience. What did you do well? What will you do differently next time?