Delegating can save managers time and money

By Jean Kruse / Guest Editorial

Have you ever had projects delegated to you in the workplace? Did receiving delegated work make you happy and excited or miserable and depressed? The first time I worked in public accounting, back in the 1960s, whenever one of the CPAs gave a project to me, I was thrilled, even though it was very low-level work. I wanted to be a CPA, and therefore I was motivated to learn whatever anyone was willing to teach me.

Did you ever realize that some of your work was so easy that it should be delegated to an employee, but you rationalized that you really liked that particular part of your job and, since you had always done it, you could do it very fast, so it did not make sense to have anyone else learn it?

Have you ever been worried that if you taught someone else in the business how to do your job that that person might take over and you would lose your job to that person? Or that you somehow would not be valuable to your employer if you gave up some of the projects that kept you very busy and therefore indispensable?

Have you ever said that you could not delegate any of your work because the work is complex and it would take too long to train someone — in the time it takes to explain the job to someone you could have the job done?

These are only a few of the concerns and reasons why you do not delegate some of your work to another person.

Last month, I discussed how disorganization debilitates your business and, specifically, how desk clutter should be handled. If part of your desk clutter is because of stacks of “to do” projects, you probably need to delegate some, or all, of them. If your desk clutter can be blamed on the fact that you simply have too much work — more work than any one person can possibly do— then you definitely must delegate.

If there is no one in your office to whom you can delegate your work, think about outsourcing. Payroll processing is a very time-consuming project and can easily and effectively be outsourced; the fees for this service are very reasonable and you would be freed up to do more important projects — efforts that would bring additional revenue to your business. In addition, there are many competent individuals who will do your monthly accounting, come to your office monthly and reconcile your bank accounts, receivables, payables and print your financial statements. You can hire human resource experts who will put together your employee handbook and even assist you in hiring and ensure that you are in compliance with employment and labor laws. You can hire a person whose business it is to help people get organized and to reduce the clutter in your home and in your business.

Of course, outsourcing does cost money, but probably not as much as hiring another person to do the work in house. You should think about adding the outsource expenses to your ongoing business plan. It may seem like wasted money because you are perfectly capable of doing all of it yourself. But, at what cost? Loss of money that you could be earning by more effectively selling your product or service and managing your business.

If there are others in your organization who might be able to take on some of your duties if you take the time to train them, you definitely should do that. There are guidelines, though, that you must follow. Don’t just hand the project to them with a “Do this for me and give it back to me when it is done” command. Take the time to explain why the project is important and what it is for, the goal. Explain in detail the result that you expect and how you usually do it, but if that person can think of a better and easier way to get the project finished, let them know that you are okay with that. Tell them when the project is due, that they can come to you with questions, and when you will check back with them to see if they need assistance. Then let the project go. You will be expanding the knowledge of another person — this is what managers do. This will also grow your managerial abilities, so delegating is good, not to be feared. Don’t forget to give credit to this person for being the person who accomplished the task. If they receive credit, they will be eager to take on other projects you can pass to them.

Each person learns differently. Many people do not want to be in management. They are very good at their jobs which they do from rote. A person with that kind of personality would want you to be very specific and would not feel good about doing a project unless they know that you will review it. You will hand down duties to that person differently than a person who has demonstrated a lot of self-confidence, drive and the ability to work independently. This kind of person will probably be better and more efficient at the project than you ever were — your supervisor will admire you for delegating to both of these types.

The bottom line: delegating is a great way to keep your desk clear so that you can work on all of those really important projects that will bring in the bucks.

Meanwhile, if you have other business questions or simply have a need to run an idea by someone, go to our SCORE website,, and request a mentor who can assist you in the concerns of your particular business organization. Mentoring by a SCORE volunteer is free and confidential.




Jean Kruse is a SCORE counselor and SCORE Iowa district president. She operated her own CPA firm for 13 years and in 1988, joined RSM McGladrey, a national firm, where she provided accounting and tax services to small businesses.