The delights of delegation
Having a capable staff is one thing. Making the most of it can be a very different matter. If you aren’t delegating tasks appropriately, you’re probably frustrating your employees, putting yourself on a path to burnout, and possibly even short-changing your clients.
“Knowing when and how to delegate is not instinctive; sub-optimal delegation is a very common problem among advisors, particularly those who are building up their own businesses,” according to Dawn Drewitz, a CFP and a senior business consultant of HD Vest Financial Services. “But when you master the art of delegating, you lay the foundation for profitable growth, satisfied clients and a harmonious work environment,” she added.
It’s difficult to delegate effectively before you have a clear idea of how you are spending your own time, however. The small investment of your time required to do a thorough job will pay off. You can create your own system, or use an existing grid-based system on Excel that outlines all of the possible ways you can spend your time.
For example, you can divide tasks into categories such as sales and marketing, meeting preparation, client service, operations, compliance, HR/staffing, business planning, accounting/tax, and miscellaneous (e.g., training, travel). After you have tracked how you spend your time over the course of at least two weeks (the longer the better), you’ll have a fairly accurate picture.
Next, do the math: Based on your fee schedule, determine how much you would net by devoting, for example, 20 percent more hours to the most valuable tasks and delegating the 20 percent that are least valuable. Note: You’ll need to factor in the possible delayed impact of doing so, if one of the key tasks you’ll be spending more time on is prospecting for new clients, since the payoff isn’t immediate.
Of course, you can’t simply pass off duties until you have a clear idea of how your staff are spending their time. While employees might insist they are fully occupied even when they aren’t, others — particularly the most valuable employees — will be honest with you if they are being under-utilized, and seek opportunities to add value to their jobs.
Even if an employee is eager take on more work, that doesn’t mean you can simply pass off any tasks you have determined you no longer need to handle. “We encourage advisors to take advantage of skill and personality profiling services that can make sure you are delegating appropriately,” Drewitz said. “A good receptionist doesn’t necessarily make a good office manager.”
Delegating tasks, like supervising employees on an ongoing basis, requires these three steps:
Give clear instructions. Don’t expect people to just figure it out. A task that you have performed for years might seem simple to you, but won’t necessarily be to someone taking it on for the first time.
Check in, but don’t micromanage. During the initial stages, see whether the employee needs any guidance or assistance. Employees may resist asking for help when they need it if you appear to assume they should be able to handle the job without help.
Provide feedback and recognition. Without feedback, an employee can conclude that the job is being done perfectly but, chances are, in the beginning it won’t be. Also, all employees appreciate positive feedback.
SPREADING THE NEWS
When you’re delegating (either to a current or new employee) administrative or “back room” sorts of functions, it will be invisible to clients. But what about tasks that involve contact with clients? It’s a natural concern that they might be put off by dealing with a more junior person from time to time.
When that’s the path you are embarking upon — with full confidence in the person who will be stepping up to the role — be sure to give clients a heads up about the change in procedure. “I recommend promoting the addition of the team in the client newsletter, having a client event to introduce clients to the new team member, and always talk about the team with clients, and how you all work together for the betterment of the client,” Drewitz said.
“For many clients, it’s actually reassuring to know that other people are involved and can provide some back-up,” she added. The days of the “star performer” business are over, being replaced by the concept of the “ensemble practice.”
Not only does this reassure clients, but for advisors thinking ahead to an exit strategy, building an ensemble practice makes a business more marketable, since buyers will have greater confidence that clients will be retained after you leave.
For more information about HD Vest Financial Services and how they can help you transfer a client’s wealth, visit hdvest.com/join or contact a Business Development Consultant at (800) 742-7950.
HD Vest Financial Services® and its affiliates (collectively, “H.D. Vest, Inc.”) do not provide tax or accounting services. You should consult your tax professional regarding the tax implications of any investments.
The views and opinions presented in this article are those of Dawn Drewitz and not of HD Vest Financial Services or its subsidiaries.
HD Vest Financial Services® is the holding company for the group of companies providing financial services under the HD Vest name.
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