Most subordinates working for a no-decision manager either resign or go into one of three negative working relationships with their no-decision boss: ‘fundamental frustration’, ‘reticent resignation’ or ‘constant conflict,’ as described in previous articles. A few, however, make a conscious decision to leave negative emotions behind, and to work positively with their no-decision manager, accepting that they never make decisions.
I have found two ways that subordinates decide to work positively with no-decision managers. The first is in a passive mode, which I call ‘peaceful patience’ and the second in an active mode, which I call, quite ludicrously, ‘aphonic acknowledgement.’
Working in peaceful patience with a no-decision manager involves accepting that the boss will never decide and is simply patience minus the frustration, resignation or conflict that comes with working for a no-decision boss. Subordinates must surrender to the reality and accept, with no aggressiveness, that their boss will never make decisions.
Their no-decision bosses continue not to take any decisions, but in return they never give subordinates orders, never set deadlines, never monitor or comment on the work they do or don’t do, and suddenly become friendly towards them. There are no constraints. It is a state where subordinates can enjoy the show and watch the no-decision tactics deployed on others with detachment. They carry out their tasks, as best as they can, without decisions being made, and no longer need to pressure their boss to make decisions.
The second way to work positively with is in aphonic acknowledgement, which is peaceful patience with an added feature, where subordinates decide to take decisions in place of their no-decision boss. They accept the concept of ‘deviated downward delegation’, explained in previous articles, without ever having heard of it before. Subordinates make a sort of silent pact with their no-decision boss to make decisions in their place.
For subordinates this takes a bit of courage. Taking decisions in the place of the boss, after all, is unusual in organisations, is not taught anywhere, is not written about in management literature and in theory does not exist. The secret is to start carefully with a minor decision normally taken by the boss and see what happens. If the boss is a true no-decision manager, nothing will happen. The silent pact stays silent, even after decisions are made.
Once subordinates have decided to make the decisions of their boss, they have a number of other decisions to make themselves on how they are going to work in this new, unknown environment.
Enjoy the freedom
The first action subordinates usually take is to enjoy their sudden freedom and autonomy. No-decision bosses do not manage their subordinates. They simply leave them alone to do what they want. But how far should subordinates go with this freedom? Some just profit from a working environment without management control, with few constraints and no pressure. Some choose not to do any work at all. The possibilities are endless but subordinates can do what they want.