Do you have a manager who drags their feet when it comes to making important decisions?
This can affect your entire team and your ability to get things done. Moreover, the impact of just one manager’s indecisiveness affects your entire business.
How do you handle this?
“It feels like things have come to a screeching halt,” said Maxine. “I have one department that consistently delivers late – and always has excuses. Help!”
The more Maxine and I talked, the greater the evidence became that the department’s poor performance was affecting other areas of the business.
“The latest debacle is this: Earl promised me reports by deadline, but once again, he was late.” Maxine continued. “He blames two of his employees for various things I won’t bore you with. The outcome is that I did not receive these reports I needed by our deadline. We actually lost business because of it.”
“So, this has actually affected the business’s ability to compete,” I responded. “And what is the problem?”
“Well, I used to think that Earl couldn’t hold his team accountable. He kept blaming them for performance issues. But lately, I’ve noticed that he really drags in his decision-making. And one of his employees told me she had been waiting on directives from him for three days – that she couldn’t move forward with her project until he made a decision on something.”
Maxine’s business was in jeopardy. After talking with Earl, I asked if I could talk with other managers, as well. My discovery showed that we actually needed to revisit a basic framework for decision-making with Maxine, and then to work with the managers to have a shared understanding.
Here are some of the comments from Maxine’s managers – and which may be reasons your own manager hesitates to make decisions:
- I don’t have the information I need. It’s hard to weigh the pros and cons when I don’t have the info I need and the larger picture.
- I’m not sure I have the authority. Does this decision fall to me, or does it need to be made by my leader?
- I don’t feel like I have the knowledge or experience. I’m new to this position and not sure I am equipped. What if my decision is wrong? I’m afraid to commit, not knowing what the outcome might be.
- My past experiences in making these kinds of decisions were poor. What will happen if I make a mistake?
- This decision is a tough one – how will I handle reactions? How do I get people on board?
Implied in each of these statements is a lack of clarity in parameters. If you sit with your managers, you may find that they hesitate in decision-making because of similar feelings. Discussions around this and identifying on what is needed to fill gaps in this area are crucial.
Encouraging them to reach out when they have questions is something you should expect. However, if this is not happening, you may want to have further conversations to explore reasons behind this. For more on this, see How Safe is it for Your Team to Make Decisions Together?
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.
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