For someone who has started a business up from scratch and fulfilled every role required to get their company off the ground, delegation can be difficult.
Whether you are running an accountancy practice or a design agency, learning how to delegate successfully will make a huge difference to how you run your business. It’s not easy; there is a huge amount of planning and hard work involved for most people, but once your fledging venture finds some medium of success you have a choice to make – do I keep my business at a comfortable size, or do I try and build it up to its full potential?
For many people, striving to take your business further is the obvious choice, but you usually need the help of others. This is where some smaller accountant practitioners – and small business owners – have a problem. At this point you realise that it is impossible to do more on your own, but you have to trust others with your company’s best interests. You may believe that no one will care as much as you (which is true) and that no one else will carry out tasks to your own high standards (which isn’t true). You have to trust staff or subcontractors to take work off you so that you are utilising them properly and making the most of the resources you have at your disposal. And here’s a revelation – they might actually be better at some tasks than you. Recognising which areas where your skills might be weaker means that you can pass this on to people who have more expertise, so that you can concentrate on the things that you are good at.
So how can you learn to delegate effectively?
Identify what needs to be delegated
There are only so many hours in the day, and you don’t want to take on an overly punishing workload that will inevitably lead to burnout. Draw up a list of every task or project that needs to be done to either keep your company ticking over or growing. From here you can decide which ones can be delegated. Do you want to offload the more menial work that could be done by an admin assistant, or earmark more specialist projects for external experts? Tracking how long different tasks take you is also useful when deciding to delegate as you can get rid of the more time consuming tasks in favour of billable time that actually makes a difference to your profit line of your practice. It’s also worth looking at what you actually enjoy doing, and it makes sense to keep this work for yourself. For example, if you find marketing to be a necessary evil, why not get someone else to do it instead?
Draw up a brief
Now that you have decided what you want to be done by someone else, make sure you give them very clear and detailed instructions on how you want the work to be carried out, and what you expect the final result to be. Make sure that you are available to the employee or contractor if they have any queries whilst they are carrying out their task. Try and be open to any suggestions they might have for you if this can make a process more efficient or bring costs down. By being flexible with your brief and discussing it beforehand with the person you are delegating to can allow for some fresh ideas to be incorporated into the project.
Track their progress
The last thing you want to be doing is looking over someone’s shoulder, and it is something they certainly won’t appreciate either. Schedule regular meetings – ideally face to face – but video conferencing calls might be a good alternative if this isn’t practical. If you have a timetable for a project, it will help to ensure that everything is running on track. It will give both of you peace of mind that things are going well, and if you come across any glitches, it’s always a problem halved! Always back up your team even if things go slightly wrong, and this show of support will keep morale and confidence high. When you have established a certain level of trust you will probably find it much easier to let go, and you might be able to spread out meetings a bit more. It’s always good to keep an eye on things, but at some point you should be able to get to a stage where you can hand a project over completely and just let people get on with it.
Remember your manners!
Yes, you might have paid someone to do some work for you, but always make sure you thank them. If everything has gone well, you might want to delegate more responsible tasks to them and develop their skills further. Making them feel appreciated will mean they are keen to maintain high standards, meaning that you have more faith in their capabilities. This will then free you up to focus more on the work you find more enjoyable and let you take your company to the next level.
Accountants can find more useful business resources for themselves and their clients here at Sage Exchange.