No-decision managers realise that deploying tactics to avoid decision-making is not enough, so they have invented a process to find people in the organisation that are willing to step in and take decisions in their place. I call this ‘deviated delegation’. The most obvious person to make a decision in their place is their boss. This is ‘deviated upward delegation’ and is clearly the most convenient, elegant solution, because the boss automatically takes direct responsibility for the decision.
Each no-decision manager needs to find a process to persuade their boss to make as many decisions as possible in their place. They have to convince, manipulate, push and cajole them into deciding for them. And they do this, without the boss being aware of the process.
The easiest way is to give bosses as much information as possible on what is going on in the no-decision manager’s department and eventually they will give an opinion on the subject under discussion. If they are lucky the opinion could be a direct order to the no-decision manager to do something. If not the boss might give a favourable opinion on the subject which, for a no-decision manager, is a decision to go ahead. An unfavourable comment or opinion is equivalent to an order not to make this decision.
Even for normal managers, it is usual to discuss different alternatives with their bosses before making a decision. Many bosses help their subordinates make them and some may also decide important decisions instead of delegating. So, for no-decision managers, it is not so much the important decisions that are difficult, it is the simple ones that do not need the input of their boss.
Effect on subordinates
Deviated delegation is invisible to most subordinates. They see that their no-decision boss sometimes miraculously appears to decide, but over time they realise that these decisions do not come from their no-decision boss, but from someone else. However, they do not care, they are just glad that a decision has been made and they can, at last, move forward.