Having exhausted the simple physical tactics of decision-avoidance, no-decision managers turn to more devious psychological ones. The first in this series I call the ‘artificial agreement,’ where no-decision managers announce that they agree with the subordinate. It is artificial because it is a tactic to stop subordinates asking for a decision to be made. It gives them the impression that things are starting to move forward at last and that a decision will be made.
Agree with conditions
In the first variation of these artificial agreements no-decision managers ‘agree with conditions’ that something needs to be completed before the decision can be made. The no-decision manager might say: ‘I agree with your proposal but I need to talk to my boss’, or ‘I first need to talk to headquarters’.
They have no intention of speaking to the boss or headquarters, or with anyone else, concerning this potential decision. The objective here is to divert attention away from themselves to someone else, and while subordinates wait, no decision-making is required.
Subordinates move on from asking the boss ‘Have you decided?’ to asking, ‘Have you talked to your boss or headquarters?’ or ‘Have you had the time to talk to your boss yet?’ The no-decision manager can then forget to talk to the boss or promise to talk to him ‘next week’ or ‘next month’ or ‘next time I see him’ or whenever, and the waiting continues with no decision being made.
It is quite normal for managers to consult their boss or headquarters before an important decision is made, and once consulted they make the decision. No-decision managers use these statements as tactics to avoid decision-making, not as a help in deciding.
Effect on subordinates
These psychological tactics are the first time that no-decision managers accept a dialogue with their subordinates on decision-making. Up until now they have been avoiding or ignoring the subordinates who need decisions made. These new tactics often come as a surprise, because, for the first time, there is a positive dialogue concerning a decision, giving them hope that one will eventually be made. Hope that is unfounded.