Delegating work to staff as a busy professional is a classic Catch-22. Delegating some tasks can free up time, but when you're already swamped, it's often faster and easier to just do the work than to try to teach someone else how. And of course, there's always the risk that the delegated work will be done incorrectly as soon as the financial adviser isn't there to guide it anymore. As a result, many advisers struggle to find a way to delegate effectively.
As someone who has struggled with delegation myself, I decided to write and share the tool I find that has made a huge difference in my ability to delegate: Screencast-O-Matic. As the name implies, this simple software allows you to record anything you're doing on your screen quickly and easily, and narrate it using your computer's microphone. (Note: Hat-tip to Bill Winterberg of FPPad for suggesting Screencast-O-Matic in particular as I was searching several months ago for various screencasting alternatives!)
The end result is that you can literally make “how-to” videos for your staff in the time it takes you to just do the task in the first place! It's just a click or two to turn on the screencasting feature, and then I simply record whatever task it is that I was already going to do, and talk through and explain what I'm doing as I go, so that it's all captured in a video. When I'm done, Screencast-O-Matic allows me to upload the video to my YouTube channel as a private video (since I don't want to share our internal staff how-to videos with the world!), and type in which staff members should have access. (Note: This does require you and other team members to have Google accounts to manage/access private YouTube videos. Alternatively, you can also “publish” to a video file and simple created a saved library of how-to video files on your server.)
The upside of using a tool like Screencast-O-Matic is that you don't have to take the time to sit down and try to write out a detailed step-by-step procedure manual. Nor do you have to worry about explaining the process and showing your staff how to do it once, and wonder whether they will remember accurately or take sufficient notes to avoid mistakes the first time you're not there to guide them. Instead, the Screencast video is permanently recorded to guide staff, who can refer back to it if they aren't sure how to do something. Because it's a video they can actually see how to do it.
Obviously, since screencasting only captures what's on your screen, this is primarily effective for teaching, training and delegating technology/software-related tasks. And while there are some fancier solutions, I've found Screencast-O-Matic very easy and simple to use even in its free form (for $15 per year, there's an upgrade with additional features), and the only other requirement to get up and running is a microphone for your computer (which is built in to most webcams now; if you don't have one, I suggest the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920).
The bottom line, though, is this: with easy screencasting tools, there's really no excuse not to show your staff how to do key software/technology tasks by recording it once, making it available to them as a how-to video, and then permanently delegating the task. Over time, you can even build a library of staff how-to videos that can be used to train future new employees, or that can be used to have someone on your staff write up a more formal procedures manual.
In the meantime, check out Screencast-O-Matic itself and take it for a spin. It costs nothing to get started.
Michael Kitces is a partner and the director of research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, and publisher of the financial planning industry blog Nerd's Eye View. You can follow him on Twitter at @MichaelKitces, or connect with him on Google+.