Four tips on how to get your boss to make a decision

leadership development consulting management

1. Who makes the decision?

The basic rule is: You need a decision. But who decides when?

You decide
Think about it, please: Does the decision belong to my area of responsibility? Yes? Then you take responsibility for the decision yourself. Decide 100 %.

Your boss has to make the decision.

Think about it. Do you need your supervisor? To make important decisions and achieve departmental or business goals, to implement innovative ideas, to define new goals or to initiate change?
Yes? Then you can’t and shouldn’t make decisions for your boss.
So if the decision does not belong to your area of responsibility, then you take on exactly “0” percent. Now the responsibility for the upcoming decision lies with your boss. And you should stay exactly there. Now it is your task to persuade your boss to make the decision!

First energy conservation law:

The law applies: Only make decisions that are within your area of responsibility.

To make this clearer for you, we will take an example from nature: Do you remember the first law of energy conservation? In a closed system (your department or your company the sum of all energies is constant.)
This also applies to responsibility: the sum of decision responsibility is 100 %.

You have a situation where your boss has to make the decision. If you now take on too much responsibility for the decision, we assume 80%. How much then remains for the boss? Exactly “only” 20% left. And if 20% of the decision responsibility lies with the boss, do you think that he will then become active? Especially in situations where he has to decide? Probably not.
Remember: “Put the responsibility where it belongs.”

With this motto or this physical basic law, the next tips can be implemented much more easily. Promised!

2. Understand motives, get rid of anger

Anyone who has to deal with superiors with weak decision-making skills is often very angry and has the feeling “The WILL doesn’t want to decide at all”. In fact, a closer look often reveals that he CAN’t. You might shake your head and think, “My boss can’t? What nonsense. He can always, after all he is the superior.

Pressure is no use

“I want him to make a decision,” and maybe you’ll even put pressure on him. If you’ve tried this way before, you’ll find most of the time: He still doesn’t make a decision, and maybe that’s why.

There are many reasons why someone doesn’t make decisions. Often there are the following mostly unconscious – 4 reasons:

Four reasons why the boss doesn’t make a decision:

Fear of decision
On the one hand, this can be a fundamental shy away from conflict. This occurs more frequently than you think, even at the highest levels.
What is behind it? Harmony in the team or in the relationship with the employee is extremely important to these managers. Many believe that they endanger this harmony if they make a decision that does not correspond to the employee’s opinion or wishes. Some are also afraid that they will hurt the employee if they decide to do so.
Out of this concern, they prefer not to make a decision or remain silent. The fact that in the long run this unfortunately leads to conflicts and crises is often forgotten in this situation.

Fear of wrong decision
It may just as well happen that the superior has to make a decision although he or she does not understand the subject, or at least does not understand it, in order to be able to make a concrete decision.

Want to make a good decision
In many cases, you also experience that superiors – no matter on which levels want to make BEST decisions. Usually you will find this with so-called “perfectionists”. These bosses don’t want to make mistakes, and they prefer not to make decisions out of fear of making mistakes.

Uncertainty prevents decision
Another reason is that the superior himself is in a tight spot, he is supposed to make decisions without having the exact background information or being able to calculate the effects. Perhaps he does not know the strategy of his own superior. Perhaps the clear direction does not yet exist.

Maybe there are more reasons, but these 4 are the ones I met most often in my management coaching sessions.

Don’t take them personally
Don’t take it personally if your boss doesn’t decide. You already have 4 possible reasons why your boss can’t or won’t make a decision. And all 4 reasons have nothing to do with you.

I hope that the anger you have accumulated can now smoke more easily. In the next step you can now proceed strategically cleverly.

3. See through the network of relationships

Regardless of this, you still need a decision! Like all of us, your boss is part of a network of relationships and it is worth taking a look at the general conditions he has in his position. In order to make these connections clear, I work as an executive coach with “Hire Your Talent”, which makes success strategies from nature usable for the economy.

The network of relationships in top management, for example, is comparable to an ecosystem that regulates and controls itself. In order to understand it and be able to use it for its advantages, one must understand the complex interaction of the people involved and act with political calculation.

In factual and pragmatic middle management, on the other hand, the clarity of the arguments scores points; it is all about content and results.

4. Act according to the management level

Those who have to force decisions should therefore argue according to the management level they are dealing with and thus put their superiors in a situation in which they can easily make a decision. Is your boss middle management or top management?

When talking to top management, it is a no-go to put pressure on the contact person. Here you can get further with open questions than with suggestions.
In contrast, you can put the boss in middle management under a much stronger objective constraint.

Published by Dave John

Decade of work experience in leadership consulting with strong focus on talent acquisition & assessment across different industries and geographies.

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