If no-decision managers do not make decisions, they must do something during their working day. The definition of ‘manager’ in the dictionaries does not give us any insight. There are too many action words used to describe what a manager is; words such as ‘organising’, ‘directing’, ‘controlling’ or ‘administering’. These words require an action preceded by a decision, so these decision-related words are not part of a no-decision manager’s activity.
The most obvious daily activity of no-decision managers is decision avoidance. Subordinates spend energy and time trying to get them to make decisions. No-decision managers must counter these actions intelligently and properly divert subordinates to prevent them from becoming permanently infuriated with their no-decision boss. For instance, just doing nothing, on its own as a decision avoidance tactic when presented with a decision to make is far too rudimentary for multiple requests to make a decision. I have identified fifteen separate tactics used by no-decision managers to avoid decision-making which are explained in the section ‘NO-DECISION MANAGERS’ in this blog.
The second obvious daily activity is survival which I have already discussed in previous articles. No-decision managers spend a substantial amount of time on their individual survival strategies which involve: 1) acquiring expertise, 2) gathering information, 3) building privileged relationships, and keeping the secret from their bosses that they never make decisions.
But some management activities do not require decision-making. All managers even no-decision ones, are the official representative, figurehead and spokesperson of the organisation or department of which they are in charge. These are ideal for no-decision managers for no other reason, than they never need to make decisions while spending time on them. Being the figurehead for instance, requires them to make speeches, attend outside meetings for the organisation, entertain clients, accompany official visitors around the organisation and many others. Being the figurehead or spokesperson is also an occasion to collect information for no-decision managers to improve their expertise and to accumulate new up to date information about their subordinates, their department or their organisation.
Normal managers also monitor and control their organisation or department. Control requires a decision so is not an activity of a no-decision manager. However monitoring is simply watching and does not involve decision-making. No-decision managers use this activity to monitor the emotional state of their subordinates in frustration or in conflict. These are the subordinates most likely to complain about their no-decision boss either to the Human Relations Department or to their hierarchy. It is important that no-decision managers know about complaints about them in advance, so that they can prepare an adequate response before being confronted. No-decision managers also monitor their organisation to ensure that their secret of being a no-decision manager is not revealed or, if it is, that they again have an adequate response.
Another activity of mangers is negotiation. No-decision managers spend endless hours discussing in negotiations, but in the end of course, never decide anything. While discussing, they do not have to make decisions, and because they never decide, the negotiations are inevitably broken off by the other party or just break down. This breakdown would be considered a failure by most normal managers, but not no-decision managers, because they have just gone through a process without having to make a decision.
Decision-making is such an important part of management that it would seem that no-decision managers do not have much to do. But to survive and keep their secret intact, they need to spend time on their decision avoidance tactics and survival strategies, which compensate for their lack of decision related activities.