Delegation tip for accountants: Learn to delegate authority not tasks

Do you know a firm where the staff never do what they are asked, or don't take responsibility and sit waiting for instructions all the time?  If you see a firm like that, it's probably because the owner is simply handing out tasks instead of handing over responsibilities.  This owner should learn to delegate! This is our number one delegation tip for accountants. Read on to find out how to delegate authority rather than tasks if you want your staff to properly take stuff off your desk.

Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.

Ronald Reagan

Delegation tip for accountants: Don't just dish out tasks

You might think it is easier to just list everything and then ask your team to tell you when it's done. Does that sound like delegation? Yes, sometimes it's the right thing, just not every day! It's probably like being a parent; at some point, you need to let go!

In an emergency, the manager dishing out tasks can be a good way to get things done. However, if you do it all the time, you become central to your firm and your team can't work without you.

Delegating is a waste of time

Have you ever thought " it's easier to do it myself"? This means that you haven't delegated any authority and so your staff are not motivated to do any "extra work". It is probably your fault!

Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too.

Robert Half

Delegate authority - do you dare?

Think about who in your team is responsible for certain things. Now think about how much they can do without referring back to you. You have now started to delegate authority and lose some control. A bit like a child learning to ride a bike; it takes a little while, but finally they become independent and you can get on with something else.

To let your team member own the role, you can help them decide how to get the task done and then let them learn.

Your role is to talk about WHAT, not HOW. "WHAT" is a leadership word that gets you thinking about roles, direction, rationale and purpose. "What" and "how" are two critical words to improve team performance.

Tip:- if you find yourself talking more about "how" than "what" or "why" - you're trying to keep too much control.

5 ways to delegate authority more effectively

  1. Control: You are delegating responsibility, but also want to remain in control. Therefore remember to:
    • discuss time lines and deadlines
    • agree constraints, budgets etc - up front.
    • agree milestones where you discuss progress and can make adjustments or make suggestions if needed. However, always review these milestones properly, don't just skip over them!
  2. Be inclusive: A good manager empowers her team to decide what is delegated to them and when. Consequently, staff will take authority for their own work from the beginning.
  3. Constraints: There will always be constraints and boundaries, things you don't want them to do or go beyond. Clearly identify these up front. If you delegate authority, you have to clearly define what that authority is.
  4. Support: Provide support and be available to answer questions. Success comes from ongoing communication and monitoring. Support is NOT "doing it yourself". You may need to answer queries or show the team that you have faith in their abilities. Don't let them delegate the task back up to you!
  5. Focus on results, not the method: Finally, don't worry how the work gets done (within reason!), but look for the results and you will soon see the benefits of delegating to your team.

Ready to kick-start the growth of your firm?