Delegation, authority, responsibility, expectation/investigation

Concepts that many of us, in all phases of life and employment, can struggle with

By Frank H. Stover, CPA/CFF/CGMA, CFE

Audit Manager at Atchley & Associates, LLP

DELEGATION is a necessary function of our lives (no one is an island) in our interaction with our families, others, and our employment.  To be able to effectively delegate we must be able to define what needs to be accomplished (goal/result, etc.) and when.  We must be able to define the task(s) associated with attaining the goal(s) or result(s) desired, then match the tasks to the available resource (family member, friend, or personnel), determine availability of that resource, and then clearly communicate (remembering that effective communication is a two way process) the task(s) to be performed and the time within which it is to be finished.  We must always be conscious of not turning our crisis into someone else’s underserved emergency.

Many of us might stop there.  HOWEVER, we must remember that accomplishment of task(s) by others on our behalf require us to also delegate AUTHORITY, we must provide the person(s) assisting us with the accomplishment of our goal(s) the relevant amount of authority in dealing with others, or sources of information, or regulatory authorities the “authority resource(s)” that is needed to accomplish the assignment given.  It is incumbent upon us to clearly define that authority, and if use of it involves reference being made to us, how that reference is to be framed by the user.

RESPONSIBILITY, this is the tough one.  While we can pass on authority to those assigned with accomplishing something on our behalf, we cannot pass on OUR responsibility.  Yes, we can ask those assisting us to be responsible to us, their acceptance of the task(s) does not provide us with an out for not meeting what we have committed to or that has been assigned to us.  We must always guard against taking out our frustrations associated with not accomplishing what we are responsible for on those who have assisted us (whether they did so well or not – this may lead to a teaching or learning opportunity for us but that is for a different blog).

EXPECTATION / INVESTIGATION, these go together, how?  A mantra that I remember from my earlier days in the Navy that was drummed into us was “do not expect what you do not inspect”!  We have a responsibility as a delegator to specifically and clearly communicate our expectations regarding the task(s) assigned and affirm that the communication has been clearly received and understood.  We also have a duty to those we have assigned task(s). We need to determine that they are performing work necessary to achieve the requested results, guide them as necessary, and to communicate to them their accomplishment of our targeted goal(s).  Those assisting us might view this as their “insurance”.

Just keeping a few thoughts like I have mentioned above in mind when making assignments of any type can help avoid confusion and disappointment, which should help YOU attain your assignments.

Please remember Atchley & Associates, LLP and our wonderful team, and many services, in mind when you need assistance, we will be happy for you to delegate to us matters which you need assistance with and we will be glad to be responsible to you in accomplishing your goal(s).

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