Young and inexperienced no-decision managers work many months just with three tactics to avoid decision-making and these are common to all no-decision managers without exception.
The third tactic which I call ‘judicious absence’ is simply being out of the office with no access to mails and often switching off the mobile phone. They just leave the office. While absent, no-decision mangers decree that they cannot make decisions, and this way they put themselves in a position not to be available for decision-making.
But absence alone is not enough. It also has to be judicious; the no-decision manager selects the appropriate timing and duration. Timing in its simple form is the choice of the most suitable moment to be absent. Absence too soon is a waste. Absence too late means pressure for a decision will be increased by subordinates, so other tactics will have to be used. Duration means as long as credibly possible in the circumstances.
OK you might say, any manager can be absent without informing their subordinates. It is none of their business what the boss decides to do. But normal managers are absent for legitimate business reasons and can usually be contacted for consultation where necessary. Nobody knows what no-decision managers do when they are absent and they can never be contacted while they are away. Their objective is always to avoid decision-making.
Effect on subordinates
Subordinates eventually realise that their no-decision boss is absent at important moments. A presentation, for instance, is planned at headquarters and the boss will suddenly become sick leaving the subordinates to make it, or the boss’s boss is visiting and the no-decision boss does not turn up. For subordinates who accept to take initiatives this is not a problem, but many subordinates consider this behaviour shows that their no-decision boss does not accept their responsibility as the boss.
Young inexperienced no-decision managers can use these three tactics for several months by just alternating them when subordinates ask for a decision: first, say nothing – ‘permanent procrastination,’ then ask for more information – ‘imposing incremental information,’ and finally being absent – ‘judicious absence.’ While they are doing all this, they do not make decisions.
This gives them time to invent other decision avoidance tactics from a number of simple ones to more sophisticated ones as they gain experience.