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5D Delegation

One of the things that you discover as you become a leader is that you can’t do everything and you need to hand some things over to others. There can be benefits to this as you hand on things that you are not so strong at to those who are good at it. The flip side of the coin though is that it might mean that they don’t do it the same way as you or the outcome might not be exactly the same as what you would produce. Delegation is an area many people struggle with. Sometimes it is because it means handing over control. Sometimes it is because some people have not done the thing right for them in the past and it now puts people off delegation in the future. So, what makes delegation easier and successful? Let me introduce you to the 5D’s of delegation. Detail; Discipling; Deadlines; Development time; Double Check


Clarity provides security for everyone. For the person doing the job, they know what they need to do to be successful. This provides a sense of safety as they know what needs to be done to please their leader. Clarity comes when we explain

  • What needs to be done

  • When it needs to be done by

  • What it needs to look like

  • If there are any required processes that must be followed

This ensures quality standards and ensures people complete jobs and don’t impact negatively on their colleagues either.

For those of you who are somewhat particular about how things are done, then ‘detail’ helps you feel more confident about handing over things. It allows you to specify particular processes and be really clear on the end product. It is helpful to show the person an example.


If you really struggle with delegating, then you may find it helpful to add ‘discipling’ or apprenticing someone initially. It goes through these steps:

I do. You watch

I do. You help.

You do. I help.

You do. I watch.

You do.

This structured model enables them to grow in confidence and clarity and you to grow in confidence to hand it over. They also really understand the detail you expect. It is important you to then let them lead that area and not to fall into the trap of micro-managing someone.


One of the mistakes people fall into is they just give a deadline that something needs to go out or be completed for the customer. The problem with this is that if the person runs behind or forgets the item, you only find out about it very last minute. So, the trick is to set several deadlines.

  • Interim – by this date we will check in and I expect you to be at X point. You may have several of these depending on the project.

  • Their deadline – I would like it delivered to me by this date

  • Final deadline – The time it is going out to the customer

This simple approach allows you check progress against the timeline. If it is dropping below the trajectory, you can either encourage focus, support the delivery of it with extra resource or people if the unforeseen is happening or ultimately step in if it is going disastrously wrong. It allows you to support or interject with time on your side, rather than not having interim time and having to respond at the midnight hour.

Development time

Development time, is giving space between the deadline you have given them and the final delivery time for the customer or project. I often describe this as ‘buffer time’. It is creating a bit of space for final touch ups or in the worst-case scenario for rapid response if something has suddenly gone very wrong, despite the interim checks.

Double Check

Recently, I went to collect something which we were told was ready for collection. On arrival there were some faults with it. As we pointed them out, it was obvious that the sales person had not done a final double check. If he had, he would have spotted the faults. When you delegate something to someone, but you are the person interacting with the customer or overall responsible, then before it goes out, give the project or item one last once over. Even if you did this earlier at the delegated person’s deadline, do the final check. You may also find it helpful for someone not involved in the project at all to take a look. They will look with fresh eyes and not be blind to things.

The ‘5D’ conclusion

Right at the heart of good delegation is clarity. Getting really clear on what you expect by when. It helps you and it helps them deliver on time and to a good standard.

Can we help you?

We hope this blog has been helpful and if you would like some more targeted support to explore ensuring you grow in confidence and practice at delegation, then Everyday Leader is here to help you. Our clients find their coaching empowering, as we help them gain a full perspective and find a way forward. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.


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