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Initial reactions

A friendly boss

The first encounter with a no-decision boss is usually a pleasant one. No-decision managers are generally friendly, approachable and invariably intelligent.

“My new boss seems friendly and knows the industry very well”.

“He seems to know what he wants to do in his new job”.

“He appears to be good-humoured and courteous”.

“My first impressions are good; she comes across as knowledgeable and approachable”.

These might be the some of the first reactions at initial meetings with the new no decision boss.

First decision

These favourable reactions will continue up to the first decision that needs to be taken and the inevitable tactic the new no decision boss will use to avoid making it. This will usually be ‘permanent procrastination’ but it could be any of other the tactics available to the no decision boss.

“Ok so the new boss is slow in making decisions. Let’s give him (or her) the benefit of the doubt and wait”.


By the second or third decision that should be made but is not, the subordinate’s classic emotional experience will start. It goes through several phases.

The first emotion is just simple surprise. Surprise that no decisions are being made.

“He is the boss after all and is there to take decisions. Yet he is not taking any”.

“That’s four simple decisions that are waiting to be taken, and we have reminded her. Why is she waiting?”

The subordinates will start talking amongst themselves to confirm that they all consider that decision-making seems to have come to an end. They wonder when the boss will make his decisions. They wonder why he has not taken them. They begin to wonder what will be the consequences for them and their department from the delay in making these decisions.


Individually this initial surprise will eventually shift towards insecurity especially, when the boss starts to use other more sophisticated decision avoidance tactics. The subordinate will first assume that he or she is at fault and has not provided sufficient quality information to enable the new boss to make the decision.

“Is it my work that is not good enough?”

“Is it my fault that the boss cannot make these decisions?”

After a time the subordinate will discover that he or she is never able to produce enough valid information to get a decision made, and that the volume of information requested for such a simple decision is far in excess of what is needed.


This insecurity will soon vanish to be replaced by frustration. Subordinates will discover the multiple levels of frustration that they will have to endure. The first is mild frustration which results in exasperation. Exasperation then leads to moderate frustration which brings on judgement of the no decision manager. Judgement on its own does not last long. It evolves into severe frustration which in turn can become contempt.

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