October 11, 2011

Practice Management Primer, Pt. 4: Give the Right Tasks to the Right People

 

In the last post in our seven-part blog series on practice management, we discussed the best ways to translate your goals into actionable tasks. If you followed the principles laid out in that last post (and the two preceding it), you now have an effective road map to make changes that will give your practice real, measurable results. However, the next step toward achieving your goals is one that can make or break your plan: ensuring that you are assigning tasks to people who have the will, skill, knowledge and time to perform them. 

The people who make up your practice are there for a reason—you’ve hand-selected them because they showed the potential to help you and your clients succeed. However, everyone has different strengths and workloads, so you need to take a good hard look at who is ready to take on each task that has to be completed. And, to put it simply, readiness is a combination of will, skill and time. 

In our extensive experience working with advisors, the most common reason that goals aren’t achieved is that tasks aren’t effectively executed. Assigning these jobs to capable employees who don’t have the readiness to see them through could set back your goals or even be their downfall. 

When you’re considering the distribution of tasks among your employees, you need to consider each person’s individual capabilities. You also need to make sure that they have the calendar space available to add new responsibilities to their existing duties. Keep in mind that will, skill and time in one area doesn’t necessarily translate to another. For example, a person might be great at preparing you for a client meeting, but could also have low readiness for taking on another task such as segmenting your client list. 

There are many skillsets within your practice. A great employee who is competent working “in” the business—the necessary day-to-day functions or keeping things going—might not be competent in working “on” the business, say, planning a marketing campaign, which requires a different skillset and mindset. 

It’s likely that you’ll find people in your organization who do have the appropriate level of readiness to take on the tasks you’ll be assigning. However, you might also find that some tasks just can’t be

completed by your existing staff. Rather than assigning them to people who don’t have the will, skill and time, it’s better to avoid mutual disappointment by considering outside sources for help. 

You’ll almost always find cost and time savings by assigning tasks to people with high levels of readiness, even if they are outside of your company. Bringing in a specialist for a task that no one in your organization is prepared to take on can fast-track your progress toward the business goals you’ve set. Remember that you’re not an island; reaching out is easy, and could be in your best interest in the short and long term. 

For many tasks that you outsource, you’ll want to find someone in your local area who can meet with you and work closely with your team. For example, planning and executing a marketing event is best done by someone local. Other tasks, however, can be outsourced to virtually anyone on the planet who has the ability to accomplish the task. For example, creating the paper and email invites for a marketing event can be done from virtually anywhere. Two great places to find freelance talent are www.elance.com and www.guru.com.  You can choose from experts in your community or anywhere in the world at an amazingly affordable rate. 

Once you’ve assigned your tasks, it’s an exciting time as you’ll be watching your plans being put into motion. But simply watching things happen isn’t enough. To make sure that you’re leveraging your resources and moving positively toward your goals, you need to put a plan in place to measure results. 

In the next blog, the fifth in this seven-part series on practice management, we’ll help you to set the framework for measuring results as tasks are being completed.

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