There is evidence that organisations do not tolerate no-decision managers at all. It seems that as soon as management discovers that they have a manager in their organisation, that does not make decisions, they are rapidly dismissed. Fifty percent of no-decision managers, I worked with were fired, I suspect, because their bosses discovered they were managers who never made decisions, but I was never able to obtain official confirmation. Being a no-decision manager is clearly a dangerous profession.
In the long term
But no-decision managers can remain in organisations for long periods of time. The other fifty percent, I worked with, either retired as no-decision managers or are still in place working successfully as mangers that never make decisions. It must be that this fifty percent have strategies for survival which work effectively, that their secret of being no-decision managers is unknown by their hierarchy, that their concept of ‘hiding in excellence’ is helping their bosses, and that they have been able to control information rising up from subordinates to the hierarchy. They have successfully duped their management, who do not know that they have a no-decision manager in their origination. Management of course should know that they have such managers working for them. It is part of their job. No-decision managers are, after all, toxic and toxic managers harm their organisations.
I did however, find instances when management discovered no-decision managers in their organisations and left them in place in the full knowledge that they were toxic managers and never made decisions.
‘Too dear to dismiss’
The first is supposedly economic, coming from a concept which I call ‘too dear to dismiss’, with ‘dear’ as in costly or expensive. It arises when no-decision managers are discovered by top management late in their careers, when they are considered too expensive to be fired. Top management will compare the cost of the layoff with the total salary left to be paid before retirement. When the cost of layoff is greater than the combined salary left to pay before retirement, the no-decision manager will be left in place. In countries where the cost of dismissal is low, no-decision managers are generally not left in place, because the concept of ‘too dear to dismiss’ does not exist.
Successful survival strategies
Some no-decision managers have been in place for so long and their survival strategies and ‘hiding in excellence’ (see previous articles) are so effective that, whatever new boss they might have, they remain in their organisation. This occurs when the ‘special relationships’ of the no-decision managers go so high in the hierarchy that they become protected by them. Here no-decision managers have managed to adapt their survival strategies to do just that: survive in the long term. Some are so successful that they are considered to be excellent managers and continue to be promoted in the organisation.
No-decision managers, then, are invisible to top management who do not know that they have such managers in their organisation. The paradox is that management is not aware, whereas subordinates know quite well that their boss is a no-decision manager and many suffer from this toxicity.