Practice Sin 6 – Dreadful delegation

Delegation is one of the practice principal’s most important management skills and if done well, saves you time, develops your people, and is a motivator. In contrast, poor delegation causes frustration, demotivates and confuses staff, and fails to achieve the task or purpose itself. A simple delegation rule is the SMARTER acronym which is that delegated tasks must be: specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-bound, ethical and recorded.

The steps of successful delegation are:

  • Define the task. Confirm in your own mind that the task is suitable to be delegated. 
  • Select the individual or team. What are your reasons for delegating to this person or team? 
  • Assess ability and training needs.
  • Explain the reasons.
  • State required results.
  • Consider resources required.
  • Agree on deadlines.
  • Support and communicate feedback on results.

Delegation isn’t just a matter of telling a junior accountant what to do but giving them a certain amount of freedom about how they complete the required task. The more experienced and reliable the accountant is, and the less critical the task, then the more freedom you can give. Where your job or reputation depends upon getting a good result then you need to give less freedom and ensure you choose the correct person to delegate too.

The rate and extent of responsibility and freedom delegated to people is a fundamental driver of practice growth and effectiveness, the growth and well-being of your people, and of your own development and advancement. No big practice (or business) can be built or managed without effective delegation.