If no-decision managers do not make decisions, they must do something during their working day. Their first daily activity is decision-avoidance. Subordinates spend energy and time trying to force them to make decisions. No-decision managers must counter these actions intelligently and properly divert subordinates to prevent them from becoming permanently infuriated. I have identified fifteen tactics they use to avoid decision-making, from the simple used by inexperienced no-decision managers to the complicated used by senior and long serving ones.
There are two tactics, for instance, that all the no-decision managers I worked with used. I believe these two come automatically to them, similar to their natural inborn inability never to make decisions. The first is a simple non-action: doing nothing. When presented with the request for a decision, no-decision managers say nothing and do nothing. They just wait. This of course infuriates subordinates. The second is simply to ask for more information. But they cannot work with just these two, so they have developed others which I will explain in later newsletters.
The second daily activity is survival which I have already discussed in a previous newsletter How do no-decision managers survive. They have to spend a substantial amount of time on their individual survival strategies which involve: acquiring expertise, gathering information, building privileged relationships, and keeping the secret from their bosses that they never make decisions.
Some management activities do not require decision-making. All managers are the official representative, figurehead and spokesperson of the organisation or department of which they are in charge. These situations are ideal for no-decision managers for no other reason that 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 survival and to improve their expertise.
Normal managers monitor and control their teams. 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 states 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 they know about complaints in advance, so they can prepare an adequate response, before being confronted.
Another surprising activity of no-decision mangers is negotiation. They like this activity because while discussing, they do not have to make decisions, and because they never decide, negotiations are inevitably broken off by the other party and break down. This breakdown would be considered a failure by most normal managers, but not by no-decision managers. They have just spent quality time not having to make a decision. Decision-making is such an important part of management, it seems no-decision managers have not much to do. But they are busy and make sure they are seen to be busy. Being busy is yet another tactic not to be available for decision-making.