A Strategy for Success: Delegating in Your Financial Services Firm

Posted by Angela Sarver

August 25, 2015 at 10:00 AM

delegating in your financial services firmIf you've ever remodeled your home, you've no doubt experienced the joy and the pain of the construction process. It might begin with a small job, one that you can tackle yourself. But as the projects become more complex and more numerous, you may decide to call in extra help, either because you don't have the expertise for a particular task or because completing the work yourself isn't the best use of your time. The same goes for remodeling your business. Faced with growing responsibilities, when is the right time to start delegating in your financial services firm?

For some advisors, delegation becomes vital as they move from being solo practitioners to managers of expanding organizations. As demand for their services increases, they add staff to handle administrative and operational responsibilities. The most successful advisors recognize the benefits of allowing others to participate in growing the firm. They revamp their business approach, transitioning from a practice mentality, where they handle every daily task themselves, to a firm mentality, where they readily delegate responsibilities to their highly trained and efficient staff.

So, are you ready to embrace a firm mentality and reap the benefits of delegating? Here, I'll outline a few simple steps you can take to effectively delegate in your financial services firm.

Why Delegate?

To successfully bring others into your firm, you must first master the art of effective delegation. The Gallup Organization's 12 dimensions of great workplaces stress the importance of providing employees with opportunities to grow; delegation is an excellent way to achieve this. Plus, the more expertly you delegate, the more time you'll have to focus on the things you do best.

Just Do It

Given the benefits of delegation, why do some advisors hesitate to actually do it? Here are a few common reasons for not delegating—and why you shouldn't let them hold you back:

  • You don't want to spend time planning. Do you think it's easier to do everything yourself instead of determining the tasks that should be delegated and training employees to do them? Although it's true that you may need to invest a few hours in planning and training at the outset, delegation will save you a lot of time in the long run.
  • You don't want to give up control. Do you fear losing control of the work or having less-than-acceptable outcomes? If so, keep in mind that delegating doesn't mean you aren't involved in the job. You still must communicate your expectations to the employee, monitor his or her progress, and discuss the outcomes. A final product that doesn't meet your standards can become a learning opportunity for both you and the employee.
  • You lack confidence in your employees' ability to perform critical tasks. Are you uncertain how well employees will complete certain projects? If so, consider giving assignments to them in increments. If they lack the necessary knowledge or skill, set aside a block of time to help them develop it.
  • You derive personal gratification from completing a task. If you enjoy a task, doesn't it mean you should do it yourself? In fact, delegating does mean you'll give up some of the tasks you take pleasure in doing. But by doing so, you can tie your own reward to performing higher-level work, like meeting with clients and prospects.

9 Delegation Essentials

Once you've decided that delegating is right for your practice, what's the best way to go about it? Of course, every manager will develop his or her own delegation style, but the nine steps below are a great starting point:

1) Define the task. Is the task suitable for delegating? Does your employee have more experience than you do in handling this particular task?

2) Assess ability and training needs. Does the employee have the skills required to be successful? Can he or she understand what needs to be done?

3) Explain why. Explain the task or responsibility and the reason you are delegating it. Talk about why you are giving the employee this task and where it fits in the organization.

4) State required results. What must be accomplished and when? What does success look like, and how will it be measured? Be sure that the employee understands your expectations before he or she begins the task.

5) Identify resources. Determine if additional resources will be required to complete the task, and discuss the options available with the employee.

6) Establish a schedule. Create a plan that includes review dates and dashboards for measuring progress. By establishing a schedule ahead of time, you'll take the guesswork out of the process.

7) Communicate. If you become aware of something that will affect the progress of the task, communicate this information to the employee so that he or she can make the appropriate adjustments.

8) Provide feedback on results. It's important to recognize your employee's successes. On the other hand, when there is need for improvement, brainstorm possible solutions with the employee so that he or she retains ownership of the task.

9) Repeat the process. The more you delegate, the more comfortable you'll become with the process. As you build trust in your employees' skills and abilities, you will gradually be able to transition higher-level tasks to them.

A Cycle of Success

Delegation reaps rewards beyond just completing a particular task. Done correctly, it drives a cycle of success for you, your employees, and your business. Each time you delegate, you build your employees' skills and knowledge, engaging them and encouraging their professional development. The more effectively you delegate, the more time you'll have to do the things you do best—build the firm and its reputation.

What other steps do you take when delegating in your financial services firm? Have you seen the benefits of delegating? Please share your thoughts with us below.

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